Cumberbatch began his career on the stage, appearing in, amongst other things, Hedda Gabler at the Almeida Theatre in 2005. His performance as Tesman brought him an Olivier Award nomination for Best Performance in a Supporting Role. A year earlier, Cumberbatch had garnered a BAFTA TV Award nomination for Best Actor for his role as Stephen Hawking in Hawking.
That same year, whilst filimig To The Ends of the Earth, Cumberbatch, along with co-stars Denise Black and Theo Landey, were carjacked in South Africa when they were stopped at the side of the road with a flat tyre. Six men appeared, held the trio up against the car and tied their hands with their own shoelaces. During the car-jacking, which lasted two and a half hours, Cumberbatch was held in the boot of the car.
Cumberbatch subsequently appeared in major roles in Atonement (2007) and The Other Boleyn Girl (2008). In 2009, he appeared in Darwin bio-pic Creation, as Darwin’s friend Joseph Hooker.
Speaking to the Guardian about his roles, Cumberbatch said that people think “I just play neurotic, fey people who would have died with a cold compress to their head. But I do work on the variety. I do try.”
And he’s succeeded – he is scheduled to appear in The Whistleblower (2010) and Steven Spielberg’s War Horse (2011). Cumberbatch will also play Peter Guillam in the 2012 adaptation of the John le Carré novel Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, directed by Tomas Alfredson, also starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy. Begining in February, Cumberbatch returns to the stage in Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle’s version of Frankenstein, in which Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller will swap the roles of monster and doctor on alternate nights.
For now, we’ll watch Cumberbatch in PBS’ Masterpiece Mystery! as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic detective Sherlock Holmes. Speaking about the role, Cumberbatch said: “It is the most-played literary, fictional character. It’s in the Guinness Book of World Records for it. I follow in the footsteps of about 230-odd people, in many different languages, at different ages and different times. For any actor to play an iconic character, there’s a huge pressure that’s associated with delivering something that everyone knows culturally, especially in our country. So, it was quite nerve-wracking, but there is an element of a blank canvas because of this brilliant re-invention and re-invigoration of him being a 21st century hero. While it maintains the integrity of Conan Doyle’s original, much to the enjoyment of die-hard fans of the books, hopefully it will turn new people onto the books, which will be a good thing.”