Before “Sherlock” and “Star Trek” and the silver jaguar, Cumberbatch, who trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, toiled in the trenches of film, TV, theater and radio playing slump-shouldered losers (“Fortysomething”) and germphobic neurotics (“The Last Enemy”).
“He was always a weirdo elder brother or the rapist,” says “Sherlock” co-creator Steven Moffat, who knew the minute that he met Cumberbatch that he’d found his dashing oddball of a leading man. “[Benedict] will go on and do lots of magnificent things but people will always remember ‘Sherlock Holmes.’ It’s a glorious bit of casting, one of those great moments — like when Connery played Bond. This is his hero role. It’s the part that made him sexy.”
When asked about his sex appeal, Cumberbatch gets a nervous look on his face. “I look at photographs, the ones that people ask me to sign sometimes, and think, ‘What are people seeing?’ I have had this face for 35 years. I’m never going to change it. But I wouldn’t desire me. I can see beauty in other men. Ryan Gosling? F- – k. George Clooney? Wow. But you can see the enigma in those kind of faces. But I can’t see it in myself at all.”
If you asked his actor parents — Timothy Carlton (nee Cumberbatch) and Wanda Ventham — they’d probably tell you that their only child’s road to unconventional stardom began at age 3 when he headlined as Joseph in a nursery school Christmas play.
“Mary was taking a hell of a long time with her lines so I pushed her out of the way,” says Cumberbatch. “All the parents were laughing but Mum and Dad were mortified.”
Hollywood has noticed his high cheekbones, distinctively feline eyes and dramatic versatility. Last year, Cumberbatch excelled with small but memorable parts in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and “War Horse.” Director Peter Jackson cast Cumberbatch in two high-profile parts in his fantasy epic, “The Hobbit: There and Back Again”: he’s the voice of the necromancer and a talking dragon.