Versatile and adventurous would both be appropriate adjectives as applied to Benedict Cumberbatch, but those qualities apply to a great many in the entertainment field, so it’s necessary to elaborate a bit on the subject. A fellow who is equally and entirely believable as Sherlock the detective and Smaug the Dagon is a fellow to be reckoned with.
Cumberbatch at the age of 37 has become one of the most in-demand actors in British filmdom, with a repertoire and resume that range from the ridiculous to the sublime, sometimes both at once. His fan base has spread far beyond Britain, but the British definitely claim him as their own even if he did attend Harrow and suffers the perceived drawback of being ‘posh’.
Born in London and educated at boarding schools (including Harrow), Benedict has a lot of dramatic work under his belt. Beginning at the age of 12 as Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (for which he has since taken a fair amount of flack from talk shows hosts) he went on to the professional stage in a series of productions that included ‘Hedda Gabler’, which won him a nomination for the Olivier Award as best supporting actor (2005).
Since then Cumberbatch has performed extensively at the Royal National Theater and the Old Vic, rumor has it that he may be returning to the West End as Hamlet sometime this year. In the past ten years he’s been busy racking up plaudits from his television and film roles, with that of Sherlock Holmes tipping him from relative obscurity to stardom almost overnight, at least in the UK.
The way Benedict himself put it, he was the actor who got “. . . big parts in small films and small parts in big films”, but as of 2010, the same year ‘Sherlock’ was first aired in the UK and the U.S., the parts and the films got bigger. He had starring roles in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Warhorse, Star Trek Into Darkness and The Fifth Estate, in which he played the WikiLeaks hero/antihero Julian Assange.
He played both Frankenstein and his monster creation, alternating the roles with Jonny Lee Miller, in Danny Boyle’s adaptation of Frankenstein at the National Theatre in 2011, and both actors received the Olivier Award for their performances. That was before he came to international prominence, but Benedict says all that experience has gone into what he’s doing and hopes to do in future. He told a Guardian interviewer that maybe he’s being asked to do more because people have seen that he can.
If anything was needed to cement the name Benedict Cumberbatch in the minds of Oscar-watchers, the 2014 Academy Awards presentation in Hollywood this past weekend should do it. The British actor, up to now still best known to many as Sherlock Holmes, performed in four of the Oscar-nominated films from 2013.
He had notable roles 12 Years a Slave (which won Best Picture) August: Osage County, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (as Smaug and the Necromancer) and Star Trek Into Darkness, as the villain Khan. However, if you look for his picture amongst the celebrities, the first one you’re likely to see is completely disconnected from any film role – it’s all Benedict.
When the Irish rock band U2 lined up for a photo op, Cumberbatch performed what’s already being called a ‘Cumberbomb’ as he leapt into the air behind them with his arms raised and a trademark Cumberbatch “grinace” (that’s something between a grin and a grimace) on his face.
That shot will not soon be forgotten, but after all it’s just Cumberbatch having fun. When he gets serious, which he does to an amazing extent for all his exceedingly varied roles; there is seemingly no limit to his talents. He’s already signed on for at least two new movies, and so far his abilities and his energies show no sign of fading; they seem to grow along with his burgeoning career, and that’s the way he wants it to be.
Star Trek Scene