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Huh. We have a Martin Freeman writeup, but not a Benedict Cumberbatch one. Only on e2, I guess.

Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch is a stage, radio, television and film actor. He comes from an acting family and studied dramatic arts at the University of Manchester and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

He was in Atonement and The Other Boleyn Girl and plenty of respectable television before 2010, but really burst onto the international stage with 2010’s Sherlock. This BBC miniseries put Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in a setting somewhat resembling present-day London.1 The show used Cumberbatch’s unusual looks to full effect; quite consciously, I think. To provide contrast and delay, the first five minutes of Episode 1 (“A Study in Pink”) focus exclusively on Watson and his difficulty readjusting to civilian life after being invalided home from Afghanistan. Finally, as Watson arrives at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital: we cut to a view from a body bag being unzipped2 over which looms (upside-down) a long, thin face of matte pallor; with longish but small grey3 eyes, curiously full but pale lips, caricature-ready cheekbones, and dark waves of hair. That’s Sherlock.

Result: Cumberbatch’s striking appearance, combined with the fact that he played the role with almost unbelievable brio, made him an instant star. The show got great reviews, despite rather droopy second episodes in both of its three-episode seasons; and both it and Cumberbatch quickly garnered an internet following4 that maintained impressive levels of activity during the show’s long hiatus. You probably agree that he’s been inescapable on Tumblr and Buzzfeed for what feels like the past century.

So anyway, Cumberbatch is in everything now. He got nice supporting roles in classy blockbusters like War Horse and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and then all of a sudden: He’s Khan!5 He’s Smaug!6 He’s Julian Assange7 and he’s going to be Alan Turing!8 He’s definitely having a moment, in short, and many people think he deserves it, because he actually can act. He can be subtle (like in TTSS) and he can chew scenery without making it a campfest (like in Star Trek Into Darkness). He’s no Geoffrey Rush or Ben Kingsley, but he’s not bad.9 I think he’ll probably get even better when the hype simmers down and he starts returning to more interesting films and/or roles.10

1.   Although differing in that renting a flat, computer hacking, sciencey things, and international crime syndicates all work in conspicuously helpful ways, from
      a storyteller’s point of view.
2.   As in, the viewer is given the visual perspective of the enclosed cadaver.
3.   Green? Blue? I think they’re grey.
4.   Largely young and female; self-styled either the “Cumberbitches” or the “Cumbercollective”.
5.   Even though he’s white!
6.   Even though he’s a human!
7.   Despite being MUCH better looking than Assange.
8.   Despite being MUCH worse looking than Turing.
9.   Benedict Cumberbatch is to Daniel Day-Lewis as Cronuts are to croissants.
10. That’s what happened with Leonardo DiCaprio.

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