A Celebration of all things Cumberbatch with Katie McCann
I’ve always been a fan of Benedict Cumberbatch since I saw him slither onto the screen in Joe Wright’s Atonement. Yes, it was a small role but a hugely memorable one for the simple fact that he was unapologetically horrible as the character. While most actors starting out in Hollywood would seek to play more traditional leading man roles, Cumberbatch has carved out an A-list career by picking oddballs, outsiders and misfits who grab our attention and on occasion our hearts. A lot of the parts he has played are
ugly, complex and terribly human which is what makes him one of my favourite actors. If you’ve been living under a rock for the last ten years and have never encountered his work then here is a handy little ‘Top 5 Performances’ list to introduce you to him and to turn you into a self-declared Cumberbitch just like me!
5. The Imitation Game – This biopic of Alan Turing earned Cumberbatch his first Oscar nomination. His performance is a beautiful look at the life of the ill-fated mathematician who invented the Enigma Machine that cracked the Nazi’s secret WW2 code, saving
countless lives. A lot of this film is a paint by numbers biopic but what sets it apart is the raw sensitivity Cumberbatch brings to the character in the parts of the film set after the war. He highlights just how cruel the end of Turing’s life was and how massively
under-appreciated he was in his own time, a fact that has thankfully been rectified in recent years.
4. National Theatre Live: Frankenstein – If you missed this outstanding stage production directed by Trainspotting’s Danny Boyle back in 2011 fear not as it is now available on Amazon Prime. Thanks to the National Theatre’s NT Live you can now watch Cumberbatch’s Oliver Award-winning performance as both Frankenstein and his Creature. He shared both roles and alternated each night with Johnny Lee Miller so you essentially get two shows for the price of one! My advice is to watch the version where Cumberbatch plays the Creature first as it really is something else and shows just how extraordinary his range is.
3. Patrick Melrose – Be warned this mini-series from HBO is a tough watch but well worth it. Based on the book by Edward St. Aubyn, it tracks the traumatic childhood of Patrick through to his drug-addicted twenties and beyond into recovery. It is a stirring
portrayal of trauma and recovery and once again earned Cumberbatch numerous awards and accolades.
2. The Power of the Dog – After 11 years without making a film it was always going to be a big deal when Jane Campion came back on the scene but not only did she deliver with this film, she has excelled. Cumberbatch plays rancher Phil Burbank with a raw intensity and rage that slithers off the screen into your soul. In a career already marked with outstanding performances, this is really something special. It’s a raw and unflinching look at toxic masculinity plus an insight into what can happen to a person
when they are forced to deny who they truly are.
1. Sherlock – This was the series that shot Cumberbatch into the spotlight back in 2010 and set him up as an expected but very welcomed sex symbol. This reimagining and modernising of Sherlock Holms by Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat is a brilliantly fun
watch regardless of whether or not you know the original books. Cumberbatch captures both the obnoxious and charming elements of Sherlock’s character and the writing is hugely engaging. Binge-worthy TV at its best.