Benedict Cumberbatch is having one of those moments that actors dream of, where they are suddenly not only acclaimed for their work, but given opportunity to play a wide range of roles in material that they genuinely love. “Sherlock” may have been the thing that finally made him wildly in-demand, but he’s been building towards this moment for a little while now, and he seems to be cherishing it now that it’s arrived.
I don’t remember him from “Fortysomething” or “Nathan Barley,” but I must have seen him in them. Same with “Starter For 10” or “Amazing Grace.” It was “Atonement” when I finally remember seeing him and taking note of his work. Then came “Sherlock,” and he was suddenly launched into the awareness of filmmakers and audiences alike. I remember reading how Stephen Moffat was casting both “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock” at the same time, and he really debated what to do with Matt Smith and Cumberbatch and the two roles because he could see merit in both versions of the casting.
Can you imagine what would have happened if he’d just had them switch when it was time to regenerate the Doctor? Smith takes over as Sherlock, Cumberbatch takes over as the Doctor, and the Internet breaks. Right?
That would never actually happen, of course. For one thing, Cumberbatch is too busy now. It feels like he’s on his way to becoming ubiquitous. Think of all the good work he’s done the last few yeas. “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” “War Horse.” “12 Years A Slave.” And this summer, he was The Most Controversial Plot Twist Of 2013 as Khan in “Star Trek Into Darkness,” a role that may have introduced him to a much larger audience than ever before.
When I sat down to talk to him, it was early in the day, and I think both of us were still just waking up. It was early on Monday, and as I sat down, they were resetting something on one of the cameras. I told him how upset my kids were that they couldn’t come with me because he’s become a big star in their eyes.
“Really? What have they seen?” he asked. I told him how much they’d enjoyed Smaug in “The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug” and how much they were rattled by the Necromancer in both of the “Hobbit” films so far. I told him how much they both like him as Khan as well. He seemed taken aback at the idea of them seeing the film. “My kids wouldn’t see it,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to have to explain to them who Daddy is killing and why.” He asked if my kids had seen him anything else.
“They’re big ‘August: Osage County” fans, I said, and as he laughed, we got started.
“The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug” will be in theaters on December 13.