Cheat Sheet: Benedict Cumberbatch


Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch

Date of Birth:

19th July 1976

Place of birth:

London, UK

Special moves:

Acting, deducing, looking like a sexy bicycle

Films include:

Atonement, The Other Boleyn Girl, Sherlock, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, War Horse

What you probably already know:

It would be very easy to fill this section with fan-boy slobbering about Sherlock, so that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Arrogantly striding onto the BBC back in July of last year, his portrayal of modern-day, sociopathic Sherlock Holmes won him fans all across the UK as well as a second season and a dangerously passionate following (see anything we’ve ever written, ever). His laconic, petulant, razor-cheeked and dizzyingly dapper consulting detective shoved Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic hero into the 21st century, and even hard-core Holmes fans couldn’t help but be utterly charmed. Part of Cumberbatch’s intrigue is his ability to imbue his deeply flawed Holmes with an innate likeability -and it’s this ability to tread the line between hero and villain that makes Cumberbatch such an interesting performer.

If you have a think about it, he’s not exactly known for shying away from difficult or spiky roles – you’ll probably also know him as the horrible child-molester from Atonement, that weedy little twerp in The Other Boleyn Girl as well as, of course, Dr Frankenstein/Monster in Danny Boyle’s recent National Theatre production of Mary Shelley’s gothic masterpiece. Probably his highest profile role to date is the professionally-torn Peter Guillam in last year’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy – one of the biggest films of 2011, not to mention (as Cumberbatch put it) “a call sheet I’m going to frame and keep for ever”. Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, Colin Firth, Mark Strong; not bad company for a man who, less than five years ago was playing ‘smarmy ginger git’ in Starter For Ten. He’s now set to play Smaug in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, and we’ve no doubt he’ll be strangely, ethereally marvellous at that and all. Will he ever just calm down and play Some Bloke Down The Pub?

What You Probably Don’t Know

Benedict Cumberbatch is 35, you know. As old as a 35 year old hill. Much as that tightly tucked-in face would bely it, he’s been on the acting scene for years and years – he was nominated for a BAFTA in 2004 for god’s sake. Admittedly it was for TV role and therefore literally no-one gave a shit, but he played STEVEN HAWKING and it was (apparently) REALLY REALLY GOOD. Here, you’ve nothing better to do:

When he first stepped into the acting world after graduating from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), he took the name Benedict Carlton, thinking that Cumberbatch was a bit wordy. After getting no work for six months he changed agents and – taking the advice that Cumberbatch was a much more interesting calling card – reinstated his old name. The rest is poly-syllabled history.

He’s been slowly taking over the UK television scene for years, with quietly brilliant performances in Tipping The Velvet, Spooks, Silent Witness and starring in a mini-series adaptation of William Golding’s To The Ends of the Earth. With his evident love of roles that challenge him, it is perhaps little wonder that its taken so much time for Cumberbatch to break through to mainstream celebrity – he also turned down the chance to audition for the part of Dr Who because he thought he’d be too similar to David Tennant. Still, why be in a hurry when you’re as talented as Cumberbatch evidently is – he’s already been nominated for an Olivier award for his supporting role in Hedda Gabler (performed at London’s Almeida Theatre in 2005), as well as that BAFTA we mentioned (the telly one.. we know it still counts, Benedict, we know that.) He also spent his gap year teaching English to Tibetan monks. That’s basically all we’ve got on that, but hell, what more do you need?

Benedict Cumberbatch quote:

“Cumberbatch – it sounds like a fart in a bath, doesn’t it? What a fluffy old name. I can never say it on a Monday morning. When I became an actor, Mum wasn’t keen on me keeping it.”

What To Say At A Dinner Party

“Isn’t it interesting that an actor who carves out a respectable niche doing roles that are just the opposite of a traditional young leading man can find himself years later beset with exactly those roles, the type of which he never would have been offered had he tried for them in the first place?”

What Not To Say At A Dinner Party:

“Sounds like a fart in the bath to me.”

Final Thought:

Feast your eyes upon our pointy prince now before the sweaty grip of Hollywood casts him far away from our tender reach. The glow of last Sunday’s Sherlock has yet to fade, but I think we can say with full journalistic integrity that Benedict Cumberbatch is probably the greatest man who has ever lived. He also does a mean Alan Rickman impression.

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