By: Robert Paisley
Published: Sun, November 16, 2014
The rise and rise of Benedict Cumberbatch has taken him from Harrow School via a Tibetan monastery to Baker Street and Hollywood. Now the next stop may be the Oscars thanks to his role in new movie The Imitation Game.
"It's been a lovely sort of slow build and this is just a great time," says the newly-engaged star, who says what surprises him most about his ascent is his sex symbol status.
"I am not a typical beauty," says Benedict, 38. "Mine is a weird face; a cross between that of an otter and something people find vaguely attractive. I've got a long face and a long neck which, for an actor, is useful in period roles. So my approach has been to wear high collars in period dramas and to turn my collar up in 21st-century dramas, like Sherlock."
His acting abilities are far more extensive and first bloomed 25 years ago when he played Titania, Queen of the Fairies, at his all-boys boarding school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Benedict was a leading light of Harrow's Rattigan Society, the drama club named after old Harrovian and playwright Terence Rattigan, but before continuing his acting studies at Manchester University he spent a gap year in Darjeeling, India, teaching English in a Tibetan-run monastery.
"It was such a different environment from what I had left and I learnt far more than I taught during that year," he says.
Benedict emerged with a Zen-like calm that has served him well in showbusiness, and having actors as parents has helped him cope with career fluctuations.
"I had two parents who had lived with all the perils. I knew what the negatives were so when they hit I was prepared for them and just grafted on," says Benedict of Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton. They also played his parents in Sherlock.
Benedict made his mark playing classic roles in small theatres before graduating to leading parts at the prestigious Royal Court, Almeida and National Theatre.
He returns to the London stage for 12 weeks next summer, in what he describes as "a little play called Hamlet at the Barbican". Tickets for his return to Shakespeare sold even faster than concerts by One Direction and Beyonce.
His television career began with guest spots in Heartbeat and Spooks and then leading roles as Stephen Hawking, Guy Burgess and Vincent Van Gogh before his mercurial magic as Sherlock in 2010, but Benedict almost turned down the role.
"It was such an iconic character, the most filmed one in all of fiction, so I knew it would be a very exposing role with a lot of focus on it and I wondered if I really wanted to take that step into the limelight.
"It was such good material, though, that I took it and I'm glad I did as it is great fun to play the number one consulting detective and high functioning sociopath.
"I was amazed at how vocal and immediate the response was from the TV audience. All that tweeting and blogging was a new experience for me and overwhelming."
With Sherlock an instant hit, suddenly Benedict was in demand for movies. After smaller roles in British films Starter For Ten and Atonement he suddenly had Steven Spielberg casting him in War Horse, joined the all star cast of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and then Danny Boyle recruited him for the National Theatre's Frankenstein.
"It might seem like that whole momentum came from one particular role but Steven Spielberg had not actually seen me in Sherlock at that time, neither had Danny Boyle nor Tinker Tailor director Tomas Alfredson. What these people do with their spare time I don't know!" Playing Peter Guillam in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was a special thrill for Benedict because he had long wanted to be a spy, on screen or in reality.
READ MORE HERE:http://www.express.co.uk/news/showbiz/535985/Rise-of-actor-Benedict-Cumberbatch