Dailynews – Benedict Cumberbatch has played Stephen Hawking, William Pitt, Vincent Van Gogh, Julian Assange, “Star Trek’s” Khan and he just won an Emmy Award for portraying Sherlock Holmes.
Guess being brilliant comes naturally.
“I’m incredibly smart,” the 38-year-old English actor jokes. “I’ve been a math and physics major; I mean, I’m down at MIT when I’m not working!
“No, look, these may be characters that stand out, but I’ve played very normal people, played comedic roles, played romantic roles. The slightly more extraordinary stick out because it’s that thing: They’re different, and that’s what people gravitate toward. But I’m sad to say I don’t share the brilliance that my characters do.”
Cumberbatch plays another real-life genius, Alan Turing, in “The Imitation Game” (Nov. 21). A mathematical savant who spearheaded Britain’s war effort to break the Nazis’ Enigma encryption code — and in the process, essentially invented the computer — this towering figure was virtually destroyed by the U.K.’s anti-homosexuality laws a decade later.
“I don’t remember Alan being part of the syllabus at school in any kind of history lesson about the war,” Cumberbatch says. “He might well have been touched upon, but it wasn’t something as memorable as it should be. Not only is he the father of computing, he’s also a gay icon and a war hero. I mean, for the amount that he achieved in his short life, for how he was treated, for the reasons why he committed suicide, I think he’s comparatively unknown. It would be great if this film got his story to a broader audience.”
Cumberbatch gives full measure to Turing’s prickliness, insecurity and, yes, genius.
But he’s quick to point out that he’ll also be voicing a talking wolf in “Penguins of Madagascar” and motion-capture acting a dragon in “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” this season.
“For no other reason than if just to keep myself amused, why I love my job is just to do different things and face different challenges,” he says.
But speaking of genius, did Cumberbatch’s close friend Eddie Redmayne — who portrays Hawking in this fall’s competing brilliant Englishman biopic “The Theory of Everything” — ask for pointers?
“No,” says Cumberbatch, who played the sclerosis-stricken physicist in a 2004 TV movie. “Eddie’s very sweet, and we’re both very aware of how weird it is that good friends end up playing the same role. But he’s just brilliant. I know he’ll do a great job and I can’t wait to see it.”