Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sherlock, his crippling insecurities and the mystery of why Benedict Cumberbatch can't find a wife despite being Britain's latest superstar

Benedict Cumberbatch and a mysterious woman as they leave Cirque Le Soir Night club at 3am in the morning

PUBLISHED: 16:59 EST, 2 August 2013 | UPDATED: 03:18 EST, 3 August 2013

He’s a mass of insecurities — defensive about his schooling, constantly seeking approval, afraid to turn work down and filled with self-reproach over his failure to find a wife and have children.
Yet at 37, Benedict Cumberbatch is Britain’s newest global star, a sex symbol who can command multi-million dollar fees from the world’s top film-makers.

So why, with the world at his feet, is the Sherlock actor so desperately unsure of himself? And is his debilitating self-doubt in danger of derailing his progress to career superstardom — and his own personal happiness? Could it be that, in the past, his emotional intensity and his urgent yearning to become a father have scuppered relationships? 

Women — especially the independent, career-minded women he finds attractive — seem to be
 scared off by him.

His see-sawing temperament is enough to deter any woman from marriage. To make matters worse, he’s highly cautious, even paranoid, about money.

Now he is hotly tipped for an Oscar in a movie no one has even seen yet, playing Wikileaks mastermind Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate.

In recent weeks he has sent the gossip columns into overdrive, after being photographed with two glamorous and very different women, leaving nightclubs in the small hours, officiating at a gay wedding and camping it up wildly as he revealed his crush on Hollywood A-lister Matt Damon. ‘Do you have Matt’s number?’ he demanded to a baffled interviewer for a web fansite. ‘My biggest wish is to hang out with him .

He is a high-intensity boyfriend. He once cited his father’s tradition of presenting his mother with a red rose every Monday morning as the epitome of romance. But what might be endearing for a long-married couple is apt to come across as needy, even creepy, in a new relationship.

He is also ferociously chivalrous, old-fashioned even. After BBC radio’s film reviewer Mark Kermode poked fun at Keira Knightley, Cumberbatch — her co-star in Atonement — punched the critic when they appeared together on air. Kermode was amazed, though he later insisted it was ‘a light tap on the arm’ and ‘playful’.

More recently, Cumberbatch has dated furniture designer Anna Jones, before apparently rekindling an old friendship with Russian model and actress Katia Elizarova. 

Benedict Cumberbatch on holiday with Russian model, Katia Elizarova

Last month, the pair were photographed snuggling on a sun-lounger beside a pool at Ibiza’s Hotel Hacienda. She is wearing next to nothing, and he strokes her arm as she nuzzles his face with her blonde hair.

But Katia was apparently as surprised as anyone when Cumberbatch was snapped days later leaving his birthday party at the saucy London nightclub Cirque du Soir, which features fire-eaters and topless dancers, with red-haired actress Charlotte Asprey on his arm. She is another friend from theatre school days.

He once auditioned for a PlayStation version of James Bond, in a bow tie and tuxedo, but was rejected.

The stress made him ill. He tried to stay fit with Bikram yoga and a daily spoonful of organic honey, but succumbed first to glandular fever, then pneumonia. 

It didn’t help that he was smoking heavily. On a bad day, it took half a dozen cigarettes and a drink before he could even face talking to an interviewer.

Then, at 33 he scooped a part in a National Theatre production, playing ‘a rich, alcoholic monster’ in Terence Rattigan’s After The Dance. His performance won sparkling reviews, but it was his parents’ approval that he craved.

After the first night, his father was in tears. Irrationally anxious that Tim was weeping because he had been a disappointment, Benedict simply held onto him like a child. 

At last, his father said through his tears: ‘You stupid boy. I’m crying because you were so wonderful.’ This uncertainty about the emotions of the people closest to him is at the heart of all Cumberbatch’s insecurities. He doesn’t trust himself to read the people around him, or to say the right thing.

And if he doesn’t trust himself, he can’t trust anyone at all.

In 2010, his career took off when Sherlock caused a national TV sensation. But his mood was bitter.

He dismissed praise with sour soundbites: ‘I’ve been the next big thing for ten years,’ he said. 

He turned on friends and colleagues in a series of vicious interviews.  He accused Bond actor Daniel Craig of spouting ‘bull****’ for claiming that he did his own stunts. And he lashed out at family friend Lord Fellowes, calling Downton Abbey ‘sentimental’, ‘cliched’ and ‘f***ing atrocious’.

Later, he apologised profusely. He had no filter, no ‘off’ switch, he said. ‘I am a PR disaster because I talk too much.’

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