Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
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Being able to fall into a role is something that every actor wishes they could do, but not many have the talent that Benedict Cumberbatch has had. From playing a sorcerer that’s fought against the universe’s biggest supervillain to becoming a famous detective, Cumberbatch seems like he’s done it all and has nailed it with every role. Now, in his early 40s, he’s one of the world’s favorite film and TV actors.
Cumberbatch was born in London, England on July 19, 1976, and he remained in the city throughout much of his childhood. Growing up, Cumberbatch was a bright student that also excelled in acting. Cumberbatch wasn’t yet 10 years old when he was acting on stage, learning how to perform Shakespeare plays.
“I was never obsessive about anything I watched when I was a kid,” Cumberbatch said of his upbringing. “Except maybe ‘The A-Team’ and ‘Airwolf’…and I loved ‘Knight Rider’ and then later ‘Baywatch’. Cumberbatch’s mother also had a role in acting. “Mum did a lot of commercial theater and farces in the 1980s and 90s to make sure the school bills were paid,” he said. “My mum and dad had worked incredibly hard to afford me an education.”
When he finished high school, Cumberbatch ended up at the University of Manchester where he continued his acting classes, earning his degree in the field and taking on roles on stage before heading to more high profile work.
2002 was when Cumberbatch began his on-screen acting career, appearing on television in the shows “Tipping the Velvet” and “Silent Witness”, while also having his first film with “Hills Like White Elephants”. The following year, Cumberbatch had a recurring role in the series “Fortysomething”, as well as more guest appearances. For the rest of the decade, Cumberbatch had several television movies such as “Stuart: A Life Backwards” and “Small Island”, focusing more on films such as “Atonement” and “Creation”.
In 2010, though, Cumberbatch took on the role of Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock”, which has had just over a dozen episodes since it debuted. “‘Sherlock’ fans are, by and large, an intelligent breed,” Cumberbatch said. “So they’ve gone through my back catalog and got what I’ve done, why and how I’ve done it. There is some obsessive behavior, but I worry for them rather than me…I was thrilled with how the first series of ‘Sherlock’ was received. It was such great fun to film, which makes it so rewarding when something you enjoy is so well received.”
For the most part, Cumberbatch has had cameo appearances on television, adding in movies with “The Child in Time” and “Brexit: The Uncivil War”. His most recent TV appearance was in the 2019 series “Good Omens”.
The early part of the 2010s saw Cumberbatch in major films such as “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and “War Horse”. Cumberbatch then lent his voice to the dragon Smaug in the film adaptation of “The Hobbit” series. Cumberbatch also became part of the “Star Trek” series with “Into Darkness” and was also in “12 Years a Slave” and “The Fifth Estate”, playing Julian Assange.
After more memorable roles in films like “The Imitation Game” and “Black Mass”, Cumberbatch joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He took on the role of Dr. Stephen Strange, a sorcerer that’s able to bend time and space to his will. Cumberbatch received a lot of praise for his role, and Dr. Strange returned for more movies with “Thor: Ragnarok” in a cameo appearance, while playing a major part in both “Infinity War” and “Endgame”, summoning all of the Avengers together for their final battle with Thanos.
Other recent films for Cumberbatch include a lot of voice work in movies such as “The Grinch” and “Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle”. He’s also been in “The Current War” and “1917” recently, and will reprise his role as Dr. Strange in “The Multiverse of Madness”, which is said to be the first horror movie in thar Marvel series.
Not many people have the same type of passion that Cumberbatch does. “Every job is incredibly different, and I love it,” Cumberbatch said. “Because you’re picking up skill sets and experiences. It’s the university of life.” Cumberbatch does add, however, that “One of the fears of having too much work is not having time to observe. And once you get recognized, there is nowhere for you to look anymore. You can’t sit on a night bus and watch it all happen.”
Strangely enough, Cumberbatch almost didn’t use his own name as he felt that it wouldn’t be something that would catch on. “My first agent dissuaded me from calling myself ‘Cumberbatch,’” he said. “I had six months of not very productive time with her, so I changed agents. The new one said, ‘Why aren’t you using your family name? It’s a real attention grabber.’ I worried, ‘How much is it going to cost to put my name in lights?’ But then I decided that’s not my problem.”
During his career, Cumberbatch has received a lot of recognition, earning himself nominations for multiple Golden Globes and Emmys, and he had an Oscar nomination for “The Imitation Game”. To Cumberbatch, though, it’s not important to take home the hardware. “Do awards change careers?” he asked. “Well, I haven’t heard of many stories where that’s the case. It’s a fun excuse to meet colleagues and celebrate people who’ve done well that year in certain people’s eyes, and it’s nothing more than that.”