The screenwriter behind Zoolander 2 has defended the film against criticism for a cameo by Benedict Cumberbatch accused of being transphobic.

Justin Theroux told Sky News that those criticising Cumberbatch’s gender non-conforming supermodel character in the film will see it is “much ado about nothing”.

A petition was launched last year after a clip was released showing the Sherlock star as All, a new supermodel whose gender is unclear, referencing the trend of androgynous models in high fashion.


The character was described as “cartoonish” “offensive” and “harmful” by critics, and the petition has now been signed by nearly 25,000 people.

Theroux insisted, however, that the film’s protagonists, played by Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson, were actually on the receiving end of the joke.

“When you see the film you see it’s much ado about nothing but I am of course sympathetic to people who are wary of that character,” Theroux said.

He continued: “But the joke, I think we’re very clear, is on two ageing, middle-aged models. Those are the idiots, you know.

“Benedict’s part is a very empowered part, someone who’s the most powerful fashion model in the industry and a very strong character.

“So I think once it’s seen, it will hopefully assuage anyone’s worries.”

The film, still the subject of a proposed boycott, is set for a 12 February release in the UK.