Benedict Cumberbatch Biography

Benedict Cumberbatch was destined for acting as the son of the television and theatre actors Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham. Cumberbatch’s great-grandfather, Henry Arnold Cumberbatch CMG, was Queen Victoria’s Consul General in Turkey, and his grandfather, Henry Carlton Cumberbatch, was a decorated submarine officer in both World War I and World War II, as well as a fixture of London’s high society. He has one older half-sister, Tracy Tabernacle.

Cumberbatch had a well-rounded and full education before entering the professional world of acting. He attended the prestigious Brambletye School, Harrow School, where he developed an interest in acting, the University of Manchester, where he studied drama, and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, where he continued his training as an actor. Before attending the University of Manchester, however, he took a year off from his studies to teach English in a Tibetan monastery.

Cumberbatch made his acting debut in 2000 in a one-episode stint on the television program Heartbeat. Throughout the 2000s, he appeared in many small TV roles, including on the programs Spooks and Dunkirk. Toward the end of the decade, he began appearing in documentaries and TV films, including South Pacific and Small Island.

Benedict Cumberbatch On ‘Sherlock’

Though he had been acting for 10 years before winning the role, Cumberbatch became well-known after he began playing the titular role on the BBC’s Sherlock alongside Martin Freeman, who plays John Watson. The show was created in 2010 by Doctor Who’s head writer Steven Moffat. Cumberbatch’s role as the modern-day Sherlock Holmes arguably brought him to his present fame — he joked to The Guardian that he had preferred to play “big parts in small films, and small parts in big films.” Since then, he has taken on more significant roles.

Benedict Cumberbatch ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’

In 2011, Cumberbatch appeared in the film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy along with Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and John Hurt. Cumberbatch spoke with Uinterview exclusively about preparing for the film, including how he developed his character, Peter Guillam. “The book was hugely helpful, especially for backstory. In the film there’s this extraordinary blind trust [of Smiley] he displays,” Cumberbatch told Uinterview exclusively. “Mainly it was [John] le Carré and the book and this fantastic script. Which I guess is a different cut from the same animal — it’s a different piece of the same body of work, but with a very, very, very different sort of outlook.” He also told Uinterview that he didn’t watch the 1979 TV movie version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy to prepare.

When asked about the gay undertones of Guillam, he told Uinterview that a lot of what the audience saw was a front that got stripped down. “Guillam on the front of it is very at ease with who he is, his visual look is very sort of dandified,” Cumberbatch told Uinterview exclusively. “You learn that an awful lot of it is a front for him and there’s a crisis both in his heart and his home life and in his mind by the time he goes through what he has to go through for Smiley that alters that perspective we see of him in the beginning being a bit of a Bond-esque glamor boy in this otherwise very Durer and sort of rainy spy world.”

Benedict Cumberbatch ‘The Fifth Estate,’ ‘Star Trek,’ Other Film Work

2013 was a big year for Cumberbatch in terms of film roles. He was an early favorite to play Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange in the film The Fifth Estate, which premiered at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival. He took the role despite Assange asking him not to. Though the film was not well-received overall, his performance has earned him high praise.

In 2013, Cumberbatch also played superhuman villain Khan Noonien Singh in Star Trek Into Darkness and joined his Sherlock costar Freeman in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Additionally, Cumberbatch acted in two films that are considered Oscar favorites — August: Osage County as “Little” Charles Aiken and in 12 Years A Slave as slave owner William Ford.

Cumberbatch played Stephen Strange in the 2016 Marvel Studios film Doctor Strange. He reprised the role in the 2022 film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and appeared in other Marvel films Spider-Man: No Way Home and Avengers: Infinity War. He has been featured in a number of hit movies such as The Imitation Game, The Courier and the 2018 adaptation of The Grinch.

Benedict Cumberbatch Theater, Radio Work

In addition to TV and film, Cumberbatch has also acted in live theater. He performed in many plays at the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park, including Love’s Labour’s Lost and As You Like It. He also perfomed at the Royal Court Theatre, appearing in The Arsonists and After The Dance, among other plays.

Cumberbatch, long praised for his voice, has also done radio and audiobook work. He spoke the role of Young Rumpole when BBC Radio 4 broadcast an adaptation of Rumpole and the Penge Bungalow Murders in 2009. Through the years, BBC Radio 4 aired continuations of the story — including Rumpole and the Eternal Triangle, Rumpole and the Explosive Evidence, and Rumpole and the Expert Witness — and Cumberbatch has reprised his role. He has also narrated many audiobooks, including The Tempest and Sherlock Holmes: The Rediscovered Railway Mysteries and Other Stories.

Benedict Cumberbatch Awards

Cumberbatch won an Olivier Award in 2012 for his role as Victor Frankenstein/The Creature in Danny Boyle‘s stage production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. He has been nominated for a number of awards as well, including two BAFTAs – one for his role as Stephen Hawking in Hawking, and the other for his performance in the TV adaptation of Small Island – and two Emmys – one for his role in Sherlock and the other for Parade’s End. In September 2013, BAFTA Los Angeles honored Cumberbatch with a Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year.

In 2014, Cumberbatch won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries Or A Movie for his role as Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock: His Last Vow.

Benedict Cumberbatch Dating History, Personal Life

Cumberbatch has dated a number of women while in the public eye. He dated Olivia Poulet for 12 years, from 1999-2011 after they met at the University of Manchester. After their breakup, Cumberbatch dated Anna Jones, Katia Elizarova and Charlotte Asprey. He married theatre director Sophie Hunter in 2015.

Cumberbatch is involved greatly with charity and activism. He is an ambassador of The Prince’s Trust, which is a charity founded by Prince Charles of Wales. He also supports Dramatic Need – a charity that advocates for using creative expression as an outlet for conflict resolution and social development – and Teenage Cancer Trust. Cumberbatch has also been known to donate drawings and sketches for fundraisers.

In terms of activism, Cumberbatch became a member of the Stop The War Coalition in 2003, spoke at a mass rally for the Trade Union Congress in 2010, and protested against the U.K. government in 2013 regarding violations in civil liberties.

Cumberbatch considers himself a Buddhist, philosophically.

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