Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch Biography

(1976–)
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Award-winning British actor Benedict Cumberbatch is known for playing the titular detective of the BBC's 'Sherlock' and the sorcerer Doctor Strange in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Who Is Benedict Cumberbatch?

Benedict Cumberbatch rose to fame as the star of the BBC's Sherlock. He went on to appear in Hollywood films such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, War Horse, Star Trek: Into Darkness and The Hobbit trilogy. Along with winning several stage and screen awards, Cumberbatch received Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for his role in the acclaimed 2014 Alan Turing biopic, The Imitation Game. He joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2016 as the titular sorcerer of Doctor Strange, later reprising the role for blockbusters like Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War.

Early Life and Parents

Hailing from London, Cumberbatch was born with theater in his blood. His parents, Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham, were well-known television actors when they had their son on July 19, 1976. Despite their success, they tried to steer young Benedict away from the stage and sent him to Harrow public school, where he had been awarded an arts scholarship.

At Harrow, he displayed an interest in rugby and painting, but it was theater that captured his imagination. Under the mentorship of Martin Tyrrell, Cumberbatch's first role was as Titania, Queen of the Faeries, in William Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream.

Cumberbatch went on to teach English in Tibet, before returning to England to study drama at the University of Manchester. After graduation, he spent a year at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

Movies, TV and Theater Roles

Cumberbatch began his career with roles in classic plays and small television shows. In 2004 he portrayed a young Stephen Hawking coping with the early stages of motor neuron disease, a performance that earned him a BAFTA nomination. His first film was the 2006 college comedy Starter for 10. A year later, he appeared in the film Atonement and starred opposite Tom Hardy in the TV movie Stuart: A Life Backwards.

'Sherlock'

In 2010 the BBC aired a modern adaptation of the story of Sherlock Holmes. The production won widespread praise and granted stardom to Cumberbatch for his take on the famed detective, alongside Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson. In 2014 Cumberbatch won his first Emmy after three nominations for his lead role in the popular show.

'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,' Olivier Award for 'Frankenstein'

By 2011 Cumberbatch seemed locked in a Hollywood trajectory with roles in the Cold War thriller Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Steven Spielberg's World War I drama, War Horse. But he continued to appear on the London stage, this time in Danny Boyle's Frankenstein. The gig required him to alternate between Victor Frankenstein and his monster on opposite nights, ultimately earning him an Olivier Award for Best Actor jointly with his co-star, Jonny Lee Miller.

'The Hobbit,' 'Star Trek: Into Darkness'

Up for a new challenge, Cumberbatch supplied voice work and motion-capture movements for the Necromancer and Smaug characters in The Hobbit trilogy: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Desolation of Smaug (2013) and The Battle of the Five Armies (2014). He also took on another villainous role during this time, portraying the sinister Khan in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013).

'12 Years a Slave,' 'The Fifth Estate,' 'The Imitation Game'

Also in 2013 Cumberbatch appeared in Steve McQueen's true-life drama 12 Years a Slave and starred in The Fifth Estate, as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. The following year he enjoyed a voice role in Penguins of Madagascar and portrayed trailblazing mathematician Alan Turing in the WWII drama The Imitation Game, for which he garnered Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations.

'Doctor Strange' and Marvel Sequels

After returning to the stage for a 2015 production of Hamlet, Cumberbatch became the latest acclaimed actor to don a superhero costume for Doctor Strange (2016), alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton and Rachel McAdams. He reprised the role of the surgeon-turned-sorcerer for the Marvel blockbusters Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019).

'The Current War,' 'Patrick Melrose,' 'The Grinch'

Remaining busy away from his Marvel commitments, Cumberbatch portrayed Thomas Edison in the 2017 film The Current War and starred in the 2018 Showtime miniseries Patrick Melrose, based on the books of Edward St Aubyn. That year the actor also voiced the infamous Christmas-hating creature of the Dr. Seuss-inspired The Grinch and revisited motion-capture work for Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle. In 2020 he starred in the Cold War drama The Courier as Greville Wynne, a British businessman recruited by MI6. 

Personal Life

Cumberbatch dated Olivia Poulet on and off for many years before calling it quits for good in 2011. The pair had met at the University of Manchester. 

In November 2014 Cumberbatch became engaged to director Sophie Hunter. The under-the-radar and understated announcement ran in England’s Times newspaper. The couple tied the knot on February 14, 2015, on the Isle of Wight and welcomed their first child, son Christopher Carlton, that June. Two years later they welcomed the birth of their second son, Hal Auden.

In 2015 the actor was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

In June 2018 reports surfaced of an incident from the previous fall in which Cumberbatch leaped from a cab to defend a bicycle deliveryman from four muggers. Ironically, the Sherlock Holmes star found himself fighting crime near the location of the fictional detective's home on London's Baker Street.

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