Benedict Cumberbatch will play a villain in the upcoming Star Trek movie set to be released in 2013. That seems appropriate to me. Why? Because he looks the part – he looks villainous. He has the kind of face that, were you to pass him on the street, might make you look twice and then clutch your purse a little tighter. I’m sure that in real life he’s a very nice man, but he has the eyes of a
I’m not saying the man is evil. He just has the face of an evil mastermind. It’s in set of his lips and the depths of his cool, blue eyes. I’m sure when he was born his parents (actors Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham) did not look at him and think they had birthed a future Damien. I’m certain his classmates didn’t fear for their lives when they passed him in the corridor (or think much of that Rottweiler following him around all the time). And, I can almost state for a fact that the monks at the Tibetan monastery where he taught English for a year, could meet his penetrating stare without wetting themselves during his lessons. (Seriously, he spent a year teaching at a Tibetan monastery!)
He is a highly-regarded and talented English actor of screen and stage, after all. Performing in at least a dozen stage productions since 2001, he’s done Ibsen, Shakespeare and Gilbert and Sullivan. Most recently, he performed as both Dr. Frankenstein and Frankenstein’s monster in the same play (performing the characters on alternate nights opposite Jonny Lee Miller). That takes some acting chops. He received wonderful reviews and awards for his ability to convey both the monster’s yearning and the doctor’s deep and troubling flaws.
On the small screen, he has done some lighter fare having been cast as Hugh Laurie’s son in the British comedy Fortysomething back in 2003. For the most part though, his career has been firmly anchored on the dramatic side. In 2004, he garnered critical acclaim (and a BAFTA nomination) for portraying theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking in the BBC production of Hawking. In 2006, he played William Pitt opposite Ioan Gruffud’s William Wilberforce in Amazing Grace. More recently, American audiences have been him in Atonement, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and the Steven Spielberg-directed War Horse.
Arguably, the role for which he is best known for on these shores is Sherlock. We do love Sherlock Holmes in all of his incarnations. This Sherlock, set in modern London, is a bit of a psychopath, er, excuse me, high-functioning sociopath. He keeps a head in his refrigerator and hanged mannequins in his sitting room. When he’s bored he fires a pistol. When he’s really, really bored he plays psychotic games with James Moriarty. Nothing good can come from that. Ever. His Sherlock abhors social niceties, but can pretend to be charming when the situation warrants it.
My favorite scene from the first season involved Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and Martin Freeman’s Watson. Watson said he had just met one of Sherlock’s “friends”. Sherlock was dumbfounded. You could see written plainly on his face that he had no clue to whom Watson was referring and was puzzled by the reference to a “friend” altogether. As soon as Watson told him that it was really an enemy, his expression immediately cleared and he wanted to know “which one”. The whole scene took all of fifteen seconds, but it summed up Sherlock and his life quite nicely.
Cumberbatch and Freeman have reunited for the big screen adaptation of the highly-anticipated Peter Jackson-directed The Hobbit: There and Back Again. Cumberbatch will be doing voice work for both the Necromancer and voicing/motion-capturing the dragon Smaug.
I hope Smaug has his eyes.
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