Benedict Cumberbatch on NPR: “Sherlock”, Smaug And Spying

Information that could ruin the British monarchy locked in a smartphone. A crime scene surveyed through the video camera of a laptop. A blogging Dr. Watson.

This is the world Sherlock Holmes inhabits in the BBC series Sherlock, a modern spin on the classic tales by Arthur Conan Doyle that reached American audiences in the fall of 2010. That’s also when a lot of us were introduced to Benedict Cumberbatch, the actor who plays Sherlock — and the purveyor of many an intense stare and quick calculation in that role.

Now he’s back: Sherlock’s second season begins Sunday on Masterpiece Mystery on PBS. Cumberbatch, who has since made appearances in the Oscar-nominated films War Horse and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, says that for a time, acting wasn’t his intended career path.

“My mum and dad had worked incredibly hard to afford me an education,” Cumberbatch tells NPR’s David Greene. “I had the privilege of being able to choose, or at least have the opportunity to work at, being anything but an actor.”

Cumberbatch says his parents, actors themselves, were living proof of the vagaries of the profession, and while they made a living, that’s not the case for many. Cumberbatch initially was on a path to be a lawyer.

“As I was learning to be a barrister,” Cumberbatch says, “and choosing my levels around potentially doing Oxbridge and … all the rest of it, I just encountered loads of other people on the same course who said it’s so much down to chance and luck. And I thought, ‘Well, why am I giving up on my primary dream to work doubly hard to do something as an alternative to what I really still want to do?’ “

Read the full article & listen to the interview at NPR