- Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch
July 19, 1976 (age 44)
- Olivia Poulet
- Timothy Carlton, Wanda Ventham
Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch (born 19 July 1976) is an English actor and film producer who has performed in film, television, theatre and radio. The son of actors Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham, he graduated from the University of Manchester and continued his classical acting training at the the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He first performed at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park in productions such as Love's Labour's Lost (2001), A Midsummer Night's Dream (2001), and Romeo and Juliet (2002). He also portrayed George Tesman in Richard Eyre's revival of Hedda Gabler in 2005 and since then has starred in the Royal National Theatre productions After the Dance (2010) and Frankenstein (2011).
Cumberbatch's television work includes appearances in Heartbeat (2000), Silent Witness (2002) and Fortysomething (2003) before starring as the title character in Hawking in 2004. He has played Sherlock Holmes in the series Sherlock since 2010. He has also starred in Tom Stoppard's adaptation of Parade's End (2012), as well as providing the voices of the British Prime Minister and Severus Snape on the animated series The Simpsons (2013).
His first film appearance was in To Kill a King (2003) and he went on to play William Pitt the Younger in Amazing Grace in 2006 and has since appeared in the films Atonement (2007), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011), War Horse (2011), Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), and 12 Years a Slave (2013). From 2012 to 2014, through voice and motion capture, he played the characters of Smaug and the Necromancer in The Hobbit film series.
Cumberbatch received two Olivier Award nominations, winning the Best Actor in a Play for Frankenstein, and has also received four BAFTA nominations, three Emmy Award nominations, winning Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for Sherlock, two SAG Award nominations and a Golden Globe nomination among others. In 2013, he was honoured by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts with a Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year for his "masterful performances in television, film and theatre." In 2014, Time magazine included him in its annual Time 100 as one of the "Most Influential People in the World".
Cumberbatch was born on 19 July 1976 at Queen Charlotte's Hospital in Hammersmith, London, to actors Timothy Carlton (real name Timothy Carlton Congdon Cumberbatch) and Wanda Ventham. He grew up in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. His great-grandfather, Henry Arnold Cumberbatch CMG, was the consul general of Queen Victoria in Turkey. His grandfather, Henry Carlton Cumberbatch, was a decorated submarine officer of both World Wars, and a prominent figure of London high society.
Cumberbatch attended boarding schools from the age of eight, was educated at Brambletye School in West Sussex, and was an arts scholar at Harrow School. He was a member of The Rattigan Society, Harrow's principal club for the dramatic arts which was named after Old Harrovian and playwright Terence Rattigan. He was involved in numerous Shakespearean works at school and made his acting debut as Titania, Queen of the Fairies, in A Midsummer Night's Dream when he was 12. Cumberbatch's drama teacher, Martin Tyrell, called him "the best schoolboy actor" he had ever worked with. He was also part of the rugby team, and painted in oil while at Harrow.
After leaving Harrow, Cumberbatch took a gap year to volunteer as an English teacher at a Tibetan monastery in Darjeeling, India. He then attended the University of Manchester, where he studied Drama. He continued his training as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art graduating with an MA in Classical Acting.
Since 2001, Cumberbatch has had major roles in a dozen classic plays at the Regent's Park Open Air, Almeida,Royal Court and Royal National Theatres. He was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role for his performance as George Tesman in Hedda Gabler, a role he performed at the Almeida Theatre on 16 March 2005, as well as at the Duke of York's Theatre when it transferred to the West End on 19 May 2005. This transfer marked his first West End appearance.
In June 2010, he led the revival of Terence Rattigan's After the Dance directed by Thea Sharrock at the Royal National Theatre. He played 1920s aristocrat David Scott-Fowler to commercial and critical success. The play eventually won four Olivier Awards including Best Revival.
Cumberbatch's earliest television roles include two separate guest roles in Heartbeat (2000, 2004), Freddy in Tipping the Velvet (2002), Edward Hand in Cambridge Spies (2003) and Rory in the ITV comedy drama series Fortysomething (2003). He also featured in Spooks and Silent Witness. In 2004, he landed his first main part in television as Stephen Hawking in Hawking. He was nominated for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor and won the Golden Nymph for Television Films – Best Performance by an Actor.
In 2010, Cumberbatch portrayed Vincent van Gogh in Van Gogh: Painted with Words. The Telegraph called his performance "[a] treat ... vividly bringing Van Gogh to impassioned, blue-eyed life." In the same year, Cumberbatch began playing Sherlock Holmes in the first series of the joint BBC/PBS television series Sherlock, to critical acclaim. A second three-part series began on New Years Day 2012 in the United Kingdom and was broadcast on PBS in the United States in May 2012. The third series aired in the United States on PBS over a period of three weeks, airing late January to early February of 2014. Cumberbatch won an Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for the third episode of the third series of the show entitled His Last Vow.
In 2006, Cumberbatch played William Pitt the Younger in Amazing Grace. The role garnered Cumberbatch a nomination for the London Film Critics Circle "British Breakthrough Acting Award". Cumberbatch subsequently appeared in supporting roles in Atonement (2007) and The Other Boleyn Girl (2008). In 2009, he appeared in the Darwin biographical film Creation as Darwin's friend Joseph Hooker. In 2010, he appeared in The Whistleblower. He played Peter Guillam, George Smiley's right-hand man, in the 2011 adaptation of the John le Carré novel Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. The film was directed by Tomas Alfredson and featured Gary Oldman and Colin Firth. Cumberbatch played Major Jamie Stewart in Steven Spielberg's War Horse in 2011.
In 2013, Cumberbatch also appeared in J. J. Abrams's sequel Star Trek Into Darkness as Khan, the antagonist of the film. Three of the four films he featured in during the second half of 2013 premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival: The Fifth Estate, in which he played WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, 12 Years a Slave, in which he played William Prince Ford, a slave owner, and August: Osage County, in which he played Charles Aiken. For the official soundtrack of the latter film, he recorded a song titled "Can't Keep it Inside".
In the media
Cumberbatch did not achieve international recognition until the first series of Sherlock in 2010. He has since been called "The Thinking Woman's Crumpet" and has been a mainstay in numerous "Sexiest Man Alive" lists including that of Empire and People. He has also been repeatedly described by the UK press as a "National Treasure."
Tatler listed Cumberbatch in the "Most Eligible Bachelors in the United Kingdom" in 2012. In the same year, Cumberbatch described a cyberstalking incident in which he discovered that someone had been live-tweeting his movements in his London home. Coming to terms with it, he said, it is "an ongoing process. To think that somebody knew everything I'd done in a day and told the rest of the world in real time!" His photograph taken at the Garrick Club by Derry Moore, 12th Earl of Drogheda was the cover of Moore's 2012 book An English Room.
In 2013, he ranked in fifth place in the "Most Fascinating People in Britain" list of Tatler, higher than the Duchess of Cambridge and just below Queen Elizabeth II. Entertainment Weekly identified Cumberbatch as one of the "50 Coolest and Most Creative Entertainers" in Hollywood. He has also appeared on the covers of GQ, Time and The Hollywood Reporter's "New A-list" issue.
In 2014, Cumberbatch was included in The Sunday Times "100 Makers of the 21st Century", cited as this generation's Sir Laurence Olivier." In addition, GQ identified him as one of the "100 Most Connected Men" in the UK. In the same year, Country Life magazine labeled him as one of its "Gentlemen of the Year". In April 2014, Time magazine included Cumberbatch in its annual TIME 100 as one of the "Most Influential People in the World". Film critic Roger Friedman stated that "Cumberbatch may be the closest thing to a real descendant of Sir Laurence Olivier."
In 1999, Cumberbatch began dating actress Olivia Poulet, whom he met at university. They amicably broke up after 12 years together. After Poulet, he dated London-based artist Anna James in late 2011 but the couple separated in 2012.
On 5 November 2014, Cumberbatch's engagement to theatre and opera director Sophie Hunter was announced in The Times. They met on the set of the film Burlesque Fairytales in 2009, but did not start dating until early 2014.
While in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, in 2005, Cumberbatch and two friends were abducted overnight and held at gunpoint by a group of locals. In the end, their abductors drove them into unsettled territory and set them free without explanation. Cumberbatch said of the incident: "It taught me that you come into this world as you leave it, on your own. It's made me want to live a life less ordinary."
Cumberbatch subscribes to Buddhist philosophy and has expressed affinity for meditation and mindfulness.