Fans of Benedict Cumberbatch call themselves “Cumberbitches,” though Cumberbatch prefers “Cumberbabes.”
Cumberbatch, who is receiving the Variety Award at the BIFA ceremony Dec. 7, is referenced in Tumblr’s guidelines, which note that users may “marvel at the alien beauty” of the actor, but “can’t actually pretend to be Benedict Cumberbatch.”
Ah, but so many want to do both. “The Imitation Game” star is a force to be reckoned with. Not just thanks to his fearsome talent — but also because of his fans. By embracing his “alien beauty” and oh-so-British mouthful of a name, fans have helped him transform from cult favorite/social media darling into one of Hollywood’s more unusual bright lights.
It didn’t happen overnight; Cumberbatch has worked his way through theater, TV and film for more than 12 years. He only began to register internationally after the BBC gave Sherlock Holmes a new modern life in 2010 with “Sherlock,” a hit that also aired on PBS in the U.S.
But once (female) audiences tuned into the curly-haired, imperious, deductive genius, all bets were off.
“Fans are not as interested in the Central Casting hunk as entertainment executives want to believe,” says Danielle Strle, director of product, content and community for Tumblr, which gets hundreds of thousands of blogs and reblogs about Cumberbatch each month. “He’s got this really approachable look, and he feels like he could be your friend.”
“He’s on a unique journey,” says Eric Deggans, TV critic for NPR. “Before, the concern was that audiences might be put off by the name, the accent, the nontraditional look — but guys like Cumberbatch prove this is not the case.”
Starring in a series whose creators (Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat) come from a different genre reboot (“Doctor Who”) that also has a rabid fanbase likely helped as well. The WhoLocks — a “Doctor Who”-“Sherlock” mashup — are even a thing.
“It may be easier for this kind of stardom to develop among sci-fi fans, where the love may take a while to go mainstream but is very rooted in a devoted populace,” says Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, author of “The Totally Sweet ’90s.”
Yet Cumberbatch’s wide appeal isn’t defined simply by traditional success indicators of critical acclaim and box office.
He’s been embraced by vocal fans on the Internet who create animated GIFs of his gestures, promote interview clips of his charming moments (such as pronouncing “penguin” as “pen-gwing”) and pair him up with images of otters who have similar facial expressions.
Such fervent attention from fans is nearly impossible to manufacture, which makes it all the more appealing.
Cumberbatch now joins a tiny group of young actors (like Jennifer Lawrence) who inspire their fans to post and blog and tweet year-round. But he gives his fans a lot to work with: he’ll be seen in “Imitation Game,” and heard in “Penguins of Madagascar” and “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” as Smaug. “Hobbit” co-stars Martin Freeman, who also teams with Cumberbatch on “Sherlock.” It’s like a British actor Mobius strip.
Without talent none of this would have worked, but absent Cumber-mania it’s easy to imagine the actor as yet another of dozens of well-regarded British character actors who never threaded the Hollywood needle. Cumberbatch is what stardom in the new millennium looks like: International acclaim plus devoted, plugged-in fans.
Meanwhile, Strle is already anticipating Cumberbatch’s future in acting. “I can’t wait to see how great he looks when he’s old. He’s going to be such a wonderful, stately old man.”
Benedict Cumberbatch attended the World Premiere for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies earlier today, here are photos:
Benedict attended the 60th London Evening Standard Theatre Awards earlier this sunday, here are photos:
Benedict Cumberbatch is featured on the December issue of Vogue Magazine, here are scans, and the article:
His Oscar-tipped performance in The Imitation Game is just the latest of Benedict Cumberbatch’s brilliant, versatile roles to win him an ecstatic following.
“I really, really love my job,” says Benedict Cumberbatch in the lush baritone that is one of his trademarks. “I love sets. I love crews. I love theaters. I love audiences.”
On this cool, oyster-gray London afternoon, the 38-year-old actor is a ray of sunshine. It’s a rare day off from his starring role as Richard III in the BBC’s Shakespeare series The Hollow Crown. He has already taken a robust morning run through Hampstead Heath (“I just love the look of the trees and the smell of the wood smoke”), and now, relaxed in a gray knit sweater and claret-hued jeans, he’s indulging himself with a lunchtime Bloody Mary and, though he’s been telling himself to avoid cholesterol, a main course of salt-and-pepper pork belly.
He has every reason to give himself a treat. After all, this is his time—the Cumberbatch Moment. Not only is his new film, The Imitation Game, a front-runner for the Academy Award (it won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, a traditional bellwether), but he himself is a surefire Best Actor nominee for his touching, slyly funny performance as Alan Turing, a real-life genius who helped save England during World War II only to die alone and forgotten, a prophet without honor in his own land.
These days, everyone seems to want Benedict Cumberbatch. He stars opposite Johnny Depp in the upcoming crime drama Black Mass, is shooting a new season of Sherlock in 2015, and next summer will headline a production of Hamlet at the Barbican that is already the fastest-selling show in London history—it sold out 100,000 tickets in minutes. This is actually no surprise. Thanks to the Sherlock juggernaut, Cumberbatch has become a whole new kind of international heartthrob, one whose sexiness is defined by his intelligence. When The Imitation Game premiered in Toronto and London, his appearance was greeted by hundreds of screaming girls and women bearing posters they’d painted of him. “I haven’t seen that kind of female adulation since Orlando Bloom,” marvels Cumberbatch’s friend and costar Keira Knightley. “I didn’t expect that level of hysteria, but it’s wonderful.” Continue reading
— BBC One (@BBCOne) November 25, 2014
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are very busy actors these days. But worry not, Sherlock fans, the duo will be back to play Detective Holmes and his trusty sidekick, Dr. Watson. How do we know? Well, the BBC said “#notkidding,” and would they lie to you via hashtag? They wouldn’t dare. Eschewing their modernized coats and famous scarves, Freeman and Cumberbatch are kitted out in the traditional threads worn by Watson and Holmes in the original Sidney Paget drawings that accompanied Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books. Well, at least Watson is. We see Sherlock still isn’t a fan of the deerstalker. Mary Watson is free to disagree, but I think John looks fetching in that mustache. I wouldn’t mind if he kept the bowler either.
Sherlock will return (#notkidding), but not until Christmas of 2015. Maybe this photo can tide you over until then?
Behind the scenes of TIME’s latest cover shoot with Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch’s face doesn’t have a good side or a bad side — he’s very symmetrical, says photographer Dan Winters, who shot him for this week’s TIME cover.
“I’m not as concerned as I would normally have to be about where I’m positioning him, where I’m lighting from,” says Winters. “A lot of actors are pretty asymmetrical, and you have to work around that.”
In the cover image, Cumberbatch is seated behind a table, framed by both real and recreated World War II items: a rare vintage Enigma machine, a bomb wheel made by Winters, and more. The setup was meant to capture Cumberbatch as an actor with a nod to his upcoming film, The Imitation Game, says Winters.
“He showed up with a cool and modern retro version of what he wore in the film — something, he told me, he thought Turing would have worn if alive today,” Winters told TIME LightBox. “He had done his work and we used that in the shoot.”
The resulting mood of the photo was “quiet, a little pensive, sort of contemplative.” And yes, Cumberbatch looks great in it.
[su_note note_color=”#ff8066″]Warning: This story contains major spoilers from The Imitation Game.[/su_note]
“I’m gonna keep this brief,” Benedict Cumberbatch charmingly promised the audience at New York City’s 92Y on Sunday night, when explaining the specifics of Alan Turing’s technological innovations shown in The Imitation Game. “I am quite simple — trust me! … It’s a very daunting thing when you look at what his mind gave the world.”
After tracing how the discoveries of Turing’s World War II decoding machine led to the modern computer, Cumberbatch clarified that the Morten Tyldum-directed film “is not a period drama” but is “utterly relevant” now because of its discussion of Joan Clarke’s (Keira Knightley) plight in a male-dominated workplace, as well as Turing’s secret homosexual status, for which he was punished by the British government and eventually triggered his suicide. “Everything that he experienced influenced his mind, which, again, amplifies the volume of the tragedy of his death,” he told Annette Insdorf, as part of 92Y’s Reel Pieces series, of the math genius he portrays. “He’s become a gay icon because he was true to his identity.”
Cumberbatch also repeated in response to an audience question that Turing’s posthumous pardon in 2013 is “still too little, too late” and added of Lord McNally, who shot down the petition in 2012, “He’s still a homophobe — he’s the one who needs to reconcile his attitude, not me. … [Turing] is the only person who has the power to forgive, and he can’t because we destroyed him.”
Such a scene was left on the cutting-room floor, “a scene where the policeman comes into the house and discovers his body — the death scene, the suicide scene, and the solution of cyanide that’s been drunken, some of the residue left on the bitten apple on the nightstand.” Cumberbatch recalled that it “didn’t feel right” during production, and Tyldum ultimately agreed during the editing process. Instead, the film’s final scene sees Turing with “someone telling him something he never had told to him in his life: that he did matter — the fact that he was regarded as different and not normal was hugely important to the world and to everybody around him. No one had told him that in his life. So to end it on that note, with someone explaining, was our way of thanking him in the structure of the film, our eulogy to him.”
Though the suicide is not shown, Cumberbatch added that it’s alluded to, with subtlety, in the movie’s last moments. “He walks in the doorframe and looks at the machine, which is the embodiment of the love of his life, Christopher. He smiles, and in my mind, what I was saying was, ‘I’m coming to see you now.’ He turns off the light, walks into the darkness, and that’s it. That’s what you see. I thought [Tyldum] was spot-on in his judgment of that.”
Cumberbatch first heard about Graham Moore’s Imitation Game script while shooting Star Trek Into Darkness, when he “was playing Khan and in a very different head space,” he said with a laugh. He loved “how uncompromising it was — there was no vanity about the character. Graham was not trying to make you like him. He was introducing this extraordinarily difficult, diffident and different man with great humor. And that was a real relief because the minute you’re playing clever for the sake of being clever, or just demonstrating intelligence, it’s very dent as drama or anything that can engage you to further investigation or interest, I personally feel.”
Hoping to “serve his legacy to a broader audience,” Cumberbatch then persistently pursued the Turing role while it was attached to another actor. “I was not onboard, but I was onboard with the idea of being onboard. In my head, I was already onboard!”
The actor was also asked about portraying another genius, Stephen Hawking, in the BBC’s 2004 film, Hawking, which covered only two pivotal years of the scientist’s life (as opposed to the decades shown in The Theory of Everything, starring Eddie Redmayne). After Cumberbatch noted that Hawking and Turing are very different in personality and academic discipline, he admitted, “This is such a weird conversation — Eddie’s a really good friend of mine. … I can’t wait to see it. Everything he touches is so investigative and realized.”
The Imitation Game hits limited theaters Nov. 28.
New York Magazine has a great article on Benedict, here are some parts and 2 photos:
The ones nearest the front have been camped out for hours, bodies wedged against barricades—a scrum of people ten rows deep, jockeying for position, climbing lampposts for better views, and rendering blocks of King Street, Toronto’s main downtown drag, impassable. “Denzel must be coming,” a middle-aged male passerby surmises, since this is a Toronto International Film Festival premiere. But no, it’s Benedict Cumberbatch, a movie star without a hit movie to his name and a made-for-meme, extreme-Brit sex symbol who plays his most notable roles (Sherlock Holmes, Julian Assange, Star Trek Into Darkness’s Khan) with a powerful whiff of sexlessness.
But neither logic nor common sense seems to apply to the seismic force of female hysteria that follows Cumberbatch wherever he goes. It happened at TIFF last year, too, when he was promoting his Assange movie, The Fifth Estate, which went on to become the biggest wide-release flop of 2013. And it’s certainly happening now, at the Toronto premiere of The Imitation Game, which is very much not a blockbuster but a World War II period piece about the antisocial British cryptographer (and gay martyr) Alan Turing. By festival’s end, it will have won TIFF’s People’s Choice Award, which has previously gone to The King’s Speech and 12 Years a Slave—a strong predictor that the math movie and its hot-nerd lead actor stand a good chance at the Oscars.
A black SUV approaches, and the shrieking begins. The crowd jostles forward, hundreds of arms with cell phones raised aloft, pointing through the cloud of homemade collages of Cumberbatch’s face. “He’s so dishy!” titters one frazzled redhead carrying crude drawings of Cumberbatch in the BBC’s Sherlock, with long curls and a trench coat, collar turned up. “I love his squinty eyes and just his face. My grandmother is in love with him, too, and she’s 75!” gasps a 20-something in a peacoat. Without warning, a tiny Japanese girl hurdles, impressively, from the back of the pack to the front, kicking a few heads on the way. The car door opens. The shrieking grows deafening. “Ben-e-dict! Ben-e-dict! Ben-e-dict!”
“I’ve known Ben for 15 years,” his Imitation Game co-star Matthew Goode will tell me the next day, “and yesterday was the first time I realized that he’s like a Beatle.”
No sooner has Cumberbatch sat down on the 31st floor of Toronto’s Trump Hotel and announced that he’d “fancy a pisco sour” than our preternaturally attentive waiter appears: “Two pisco sours, I hear?”
“Please!” shouts Cumberbatch.
“Singles or doubles? What kind of day was it today?”
“Doubles, motherfuckah!” says Cumberbatch, grinning and doing a seated dance. “Gotta be. Al-ways!”
He got hooked on pisco sours, he says, because he likes whiskey sours, and a friend who’d visited South America demanded he try one. He says he likes tequila, too, which starts a debate about whether pisco is made from cactus or grapes (it’s a brandy, so grapes), which prompts a discussion about Googling and books and Kindles and how nobody ever just knows anything or retains information anymore.
“Somebody probably told me when I was born what all of my life was for, but I kind of tend to forget information until it becomes immediately relevant,” Cumberbatch says. “Otherwise my head would spin off in a thousand directions, and it wouldn’t be pretty.” The highlight of his trip, he says, has been meeting Naomi Watts (“Man, I have such a crush on her. She’s just gorgeous. I know she’s married, and I’m very happy as well, but she—I think it’s her talent”). He’s been so slammed that he hasn’t seen any movies at the festival and is “desperate” to hear my review of all of them, particularly The Riot Club, a social satire about an elitist society of young wankers at Oxford that he’s familiar with from when it was a play called Posh, directed by Lyndsey Turner, who’s directing him as Hamlet at the Barbican next year. You might assume that Cumberbatch is an Oxford wanker, too, what with that ridiculously British name, that estimable vocabulary, that affinity for saying whilst, that silky posh accent, those piercing blue eyes, that chiseled face, that translucent skin suggesting overcast skies and manor-house libraries—all of which allows
him somehow to exude eroticism while resembling a 19th-century gentleman caller drained of blood and unfrozen by aliens. Or just an alien. Or perhaps a small amphibious mammal. He’s joked that his “weird face” might be indicative of inbreeding and “is something between an otter and something that people find vaguely attractive, or just an otter, which is vaguely attractive.”
(…) “I’m pretend clever. I’m not actually clever.” Phantogram is playing over the sound system, Cumberbatch pauses to notice. “Great band.”
How are our pisco sours, the waiter asks. “Pisssssco!” says Cumberbatch. “Good to drink in company when you’re getting pissed. It’s really nice, isn’t it?” We order another round.
I tell him that sometimes when I drink pisco, my face gets weird and tingly. “Okay, we’ll sort that out,” Cumberbatch says reassuringly. “Throw ice on you or something. It’ll be all right.” Then as soon as the waiter leaves, he jumps up. “Listen, I’m embarrassed, but I need the loo.”
“The Internet’s Boyfriend” is both an accurate descriptor of Cumberbatch’s current place in popular culture and the name of one of many Tumblrs dedicated to him, another of which is a name generator spitting out even more hilarious British-sounding names, like Tiddleywomp Vegemite and Wellington Comblyclomp. Members of his rabid thinking-women’s fan base call themselves the Cumberbitches, though some prefer Cumberbunnies or Benaddicts or Cumbercookies. (The object of their affection has said he thinks “Cumberbabes” is more feminist, or “the Cumbercollective.”) A survey of audience members at Cumberbatch’s Graham Norton Show appearance last year revealed fans who’d flown in from Japan or Hong Kong (he’s just as huge in Asia) or took a 20-hour bus ride from Germany. Since April 2013, an Indonesian baker named Vereen Tjoeng has been making elaborate Cumbercupcakes in his likeness. There’s also the hashtag #cumberwatch, which tracks his physical whereabouts; at The Imitation Game’s premiere, I overheard a group of girls who used it to locate the after-party and were planning to stalk him there.
You can read the full article over at Vulture