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Benedict Cumberbatch –

Cumberbatch in THE IMITATION GAME.

About Benedict Cumberbatch (1976 – )

Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch was born on July 19, 1976, in London, England, to actors Timothy Carlton (née Timothy Carlton Congdon Cumberbatch) and Wanda Ventham. He grew up in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. He has a half-sister, Tracy Peacock, from his mother's first marriage.

He was a student in boarding schools from the time he was eight years old, attended Brambletye School in West Sussex, and was an arts scholar at Harrow School. He participated in many Shakespearean works at school and made his acting debut as Titania, Queen of the Fairies, in A Midsummer Night's Dream at the age of 12. His drama teacher called him "the best schoolboy actor" he'd ever encountered.

After Harrow, Cumberbatch first became a volunteer English teacher at a Tibetan monastery in Darjeeling, India, then matriculated with the University of Manchester and studied drama. He continued his training as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, earning a Masters in Classical Acting.

His first film appearance came in 2003 with To Kill a King. His cinematic breakthrough came a year later when he depicted Stephen Hawking in the TV movie Hawking (he would later provide Hawking's voice in the series Curiosity). He became a household name as Sherlock Holmes in the British television series Sherlock (2010).

Cumberbatch's early TV roles included separate guest appearances in Heartbeat (2000, 2004), the role of Freddy in Tipping the Velvet (2002), Edward Hand in Cambridge Spies (2003) and Rory in Fortysomething (2003). He also appeared in Spooks, Silent Witness, and the BBC miniseries Dunkirk.

In 2005, Cumberbatch starred as Edmund Talbot in the miniseries To the Ends of the Earth. The experience proved most memorable for Cumberbatch for an incident that occurred off-camera, when he was abducted by carjackers (they released him unharmed after several hours).

In 2008, Cumberbatch played the lead in the BBC miniseries drama The Last Enemy. A year later he appeared as Luke Fitzwilliam in Marple: Murder Is Easy. He followed that up by playing Bernard in the TV adaptation of Small Island, earning a BAFTA acting nomination in the process.

Cumberbatch was featured in Michael Dobbs' play The Turning Point, one of a series of plays broadcast on Sky Arts live. It depicted a meeting, in October 1938, between Soviet spy Guy Burgess (played by Cumberbatch), then a young BBC employee, and Winston Churchill.

In 2010 Cumberbatch played two famous western artistic figures, one true to life (Vincent van Gogh, in Van Gogh: Painted with Words), the other fictional (Sherlock Holmes, in a joint BBC/PBS production).

In 2012, Cumberbatch headed up the miniseries Parade's End with Rebecca Hall, an adaptation of author Ford Madox Ford's tetralogy.

In 2006, Cumberbatch played William Pitt the Younger in Amazing Grace, then moved on to supporting roles in Atonement and The Other Boleyn Girl. In 2009, he played Charles Darwin's friend Joseph Hooker in the Darwin biographical film Creation. In 2010, he appeared in The Whistleblower portraying Peter Guillam, George Smiley's right-hand man, in an adaptation of John le Carré's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Cumberbatch followed that up starring as Major Jamie Stewart in Steven Spielberg's film War Horse.

In 2012, Cumberbatch provided his voice and physique for the motion-capture work in Smaug the Dragon and the Necromancer in An Unexpected Journey, the first installment of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit series. He reprised both roles for The Desolation of Smaug (2013) and The Battle of the Five Armies (2014). For the motion-capture work in the films, he wore a form-fitting suit and facial markers to highlight the dragon's expressions and movements.

In 2013, Cumberbatch made a memorable appearance in J. J. Abrams's Star Trek Into Darkness playing Khan, the film's Nitszchean antagonist.

Late in 2014 Cumberbatch had a voice role in DreamWorks Animation's feature film Penguins of Madagascar. He starred in the historical drama The Imitation Game as the psychological tortured British cryptographer Alan Turing, to much critical acclaim.

Benedict Cumberbatch's movie credits include...

Year Movie Role
2002 Hills Like White Elephants The Man
2003 To Kill a King Royalist
2006 Starter for 10 Patrick Watts
2006 Amazing Grace William Pitt
2007 Inseparable Joe/Charlie
2007 Atonement Paul Marshall
2007 Stuart: A Life Backwards Alexander Masters
2008 The Other Boleyn Girl William Carey
2009 Creation Joseph Hooker
2009 Burlesque Fairytales Henry Clark
2010 Four Lions Negotiator
2010 Van Gogh: Painted with Words Vincent van Gogh
2010 Third Star James
2010 The Whistleblower Nick Kaufman
2011 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy Peter Guillam
2011 War Horse Major Jamie Stewart
2011 Wreckers David
2012 The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey The Necromancer
2012 Girlfriend in a Coma Dante Alighieri
2013 Star Trek Into Darkness Khan Noonien Singh
2013 Little Favour Wallace
2013 12 Years a Slave William Prince Ford
2013 The Fifth Estate Julian Assange
2013 The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Smaug / The Necromancer
2013 August: Osage County Little Charles Aiken
2014 Penguins of Madagascar Classified
2014 The Imitation Game Alan Turing
2014 The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies Smaug / The Necromancer
2015 Magik Lewis
2015 Black Mass "William "Billy" Bulger
2015 Hamlet Hamlet - Prince of Denmark
2016 Zoolander 2 All
2016 Doctor Strange Dr. Stephen Strange

Benedict Cumberbatch's television credits include...

Year Show/Series Role
1998–2004 Heartbeat Charles / Party Guest / Toby Fisher
2002 Tipping the Velvet Freddy
2002 Silent Witness Warren Reid
2003 Cambridge Spies Edward Hand
2003 Spooks Jim North
2003 Fortysomething Rory Slippery
2004 Dunkirk Lt. Jimmy Langley
2004 Hawking Stephen Hawking
2005 Nathan Barley Robin
2005 To the Ends of the Earth Edmund Talbot
2005 Broken News Will Parker
2008 The Last Enemy Stephen Ezard
2009 Small Island Bernard
2009 Marple: Murder Is Easy Luke Fitzwilliam
2010 The Turning Point Guy Burgess
2010 The Rattigan Enigma Presenter
2010–2017 Sherlock Sherlock Holmes
2012 Parade's End Christopher Tietjens
2013 The Simpsons British Prime Minister / Severus Snape (voice)
2014 The Colbert Report Smaug (voice)
2016 The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses Richard III

Memorable Quotes

“"Cumberbatch" - it sounds like a fart in a bath, doesn't it? What a fluffy old name. I can never say it on a Monday morning. When I became an actor, Mum wasn't keen on me keeping it.”

“I've seen and swam and climbed and lived and driven and filmed. Should it all end tomorrow, I can definitely say there would be no regrets. I am very lucky, and I know it. I really have lived 5,000 times over.”

[on being abducted in South Africa in 2005] “It taught me that you come into this world as you leave it, on your own. It's made me want to live a life slightly less ordinary.”

“People forget about books. They're always just turning on the television, but reading a good book is the most nourishing thing you can do.”

Did You Know

Benedict Cumberbatch met Professor Stephen Hawking twice before filming Hawking (2004) to prepare for the role. Subsequently he provided the voice of the physicist in Into the Universe with Stephen Hawking in 2010 and Stephen Hawking's Grand Design in 2012.

He received his Master's degree in Classical Acting for the Professional Theatre at London's prestigious Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), which is the UK's oldest drama school.

Benedict's grandfather, Henry Carlton Cumberbatch, was a decorated submarine officer of both World Wars, and a prominent figure of London high society.

Cumberbatch has appeared in four films that were nominated for Best Picture: Atonement (2007), War Horse (2011), 12 Years a Slave (2013) and The Imitation Game (2014). Of these, 12 Years a Slave (2013) is a winner in the category.

Cumberbatch and Alan Turing, whom he portrays in The Imitation Game (2014) are, interestingly, related in real-life. According to the family history site Ancestry, the two men are 17th cousins, with family relations traceable back to the 14th century.


Benedict Cumberbatch in War Horse (2011).


Cumberbatch, with Karl Urban, in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013).