December 31, 2011


Benedict Cumberbatch: the ideal Holmes: The BBC's 'Sherlock' took Benedict Cumberbatch from rising star to pin-up. Now returning as the sleuth, and with parts in Spielberg's 'War Horse' and Peter Jackson's 'The Hobbit', global fame looks certain. He talks to Olly Grant. (Olly Grant, 30 Dec 2011, The Telegraph)

[I]t is Cumberbatch's mesmerising performance as a speed-talking brainiac, so lacking in human empathy he appears to be somewhere on the autistic spectrum, that has been the key focus of all the attention. [...]

Post-Sherlock, he has metamorphosed into something bigger and odder - a pin-up. Odder, that is, because Cumberbatch, with his long face, blanched skin and very pale blue eyes, is not a conventional heart-throb. You can see why he was as much at ease playing the monster as his creator in the National's recent adaptation of Frankenstein. And yet the swooning web interest in Cumberbatch is legion, from the "Cumberbitches" - a Twitter collective devoted to his daily appreciation - to endless blogs and forums. [...]

War Horse debuts on January 13, by which time Cumberbatch will be preparing for an even bigger role. He's off to New Zealand to voice and "physicalise" the dragon in The Hobbit, in which Sherlock's Martin Freeman stars as Bilbo Baggins, and Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf.

McKellen said Cumberbatch's Smaug screen-test was amazing, I tell him. Cumberbatch splutters. "Has... has he seen it?" Actually, McKellen's words were "electrifying - vocally and facially". He looks ecstatic. "Wow! I'm very flattered." He seems entirely sincere when he says this. He comes across, in general, as earnest - with a searching intelligence.

So how did Cumberbatch do the audition? "I went a little reptile on it," he says, enigmatically. With filming approaching, he is now "starting to look at animations, and Komodo dragons at London Zoo. They have some amazing ones. Snakes, too. So I've been going there to see how the skeleton moves differently, what the head movements are like." He says it's all in the posture, and he crouches forward, swivelling his eyes snakily, to demonstrate.

Cumberbatch's initial reference point for Smaug, interestingly, was his father, the actor Timothy Carlton. "The Hobbit was the first book I remember reading at bedtime, and he characterised the whole thing," he explains. "It was the first imaginary landscape I had in my head, so it's very close to me."

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Posted by at December 31, 2011 9:50 AM

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