Benedict Cumberbatch needs little introduction. He is a prolific actor celebrated for his versatile performances on stage, on TV, and across his go-to medium, film.

The actor first gained attention with his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in the television film Hawking (2004), earning his first BAFTA nomination. Yet his role as the enigmatic detective in BBC's Sherlock catapulted him to global stardom.

Known for his deep, resonant voice and his ability to inhabit characters fully, Cumberbatch's nuanced performances have earned him a reputation as a master of his craft.

Over the years, the now-47-year-old has taken on various roles, from the mathematician Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, for which he received an Academy Award nomination, to the Marvel universe's Doctor Strange.

His acting style is characterised by his intense preparation and deep commitment to every role, often displaying an impressive physical and psychological transformation.

Outside of his career, Cumberbatch's personal life has also garnered attention. He married theatre director Sophie Hunter in 2015, and they have several children together. Beyond the limelight, Cumberbatch is known for his philanthropy and activism, lending his voice to charitable causes and social issues.

STRIPLV: You like to watch your performance unlike some other actors... Why do you think some do and some don't?
CUMBERBATCH: Observing one's performance can be enlightening, but it's not universally beneficial for every actor. Sometimes, watching yourself doesn't necessarily bring new insights. Every scene has its unique context, and, at times, what I intended to convey might not align with the overall mood or another character's rhythm. However, when it does align, it's satisfying as an actor to say: "That was the exact emotion I wanted to express." I don't want all of my performances, but I do find it useful to see what others see. As much as such a thing is possible.
STRIPLV: One of your performances you scrutinised in some detail was the 2021 piece The Power of the Dog, directed by Jane Campion. Why did you single that one out?
CUMBERBATCH: I think because some films impact you in ways that others don't. I always have a constant concern about whether a director has chosen the best take or if certain nuances were overlooked in favor of other elements, and it is something that I like to know. With that particular film, my experience was different. The synergy between Jane and me during the film's creation was extraordinary. We shared an intense commitment to moulding the character, understanding the intricate layers of his psyche and the pain concealed beneath his actions. It felt more like a collaborative journey rather than a directorial guidance, and I really wanted to see whether my interpretation was matched by reality in terms of how the final cut came about. And I was, subsequently, really blown away with it.
STRIPLV: Is that unusual for you to do that with a director? Would you usually build or structure the role by yourself?
CUMBERBATCH: I think when it's done right, that's what matters. In this instance, our shared endeavours, from learning the character's external skills to diving deep into psychological introspection, set the foundation of our work. This philosophical alliance, coupled with the luxury of time, allowed for a more immersive exploration of the character. It's a rarity in my often-hectic career where I sometimes feel like I'm assembling my performance on the fly. In essence, some actors watch themselves to witness the fruition of such collective efforts, while others might abstain to maintain a certain mystique or avoid self-critique. Everyone has their method and that's what makes them who they are.
STRIPLV: Would you say that he's one of your favourite characters that you've portrayed?
CUMBERBATCH: Well, I was certainly drawn to his forthrightness and his command over his environment. What truly stood out was how he seamlessly merged the indoors with the beauty of nature. He was deeply engrossed in every nuance, intricacy and facet of his profession, which revolved around men, animals and terrains. For someone like me, who often seeks approval and is naturally apologetic, adopting the mindset of someone liberated from such constraints was invigorating and something which certainly didn't come naturally, but that's what acting is, getting out of your comfort zone and stepping into a different world.
STRIPLV: You chose to work with the luminary filmmaker Wes Anderson on The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar. Does it make it harder to play characters who are further from yourself?
CUMBERBATCH: That's acting, I suppose. Although, without that trying to sound patronizing, I'll add a bit of depth to that. The allure of portraying someone whose life is seemingly worlds apart from my own is undeniably tempting. The real struggle, perhaps, is when I catch myself thinking, "This feels eerily close to home."
STRIPLV: Do you like that challenge as an actor, though?
Yes, it's what lures me into to accepting a part and regardless of what the situation is – well, in most cases – I do enjoy unwrapping the stories and deciding how I am going to portray it in my own way. In understanding the very essence of a role, I believe there's always a doorway to empathize – be it their profound emotions, their abilities, their vulnerabilities, or even their redeeming qualities. It's an odd juxtaposition for me as I began my journey as a spectator, and now, I find myself in the spotlight. I ground myself with the help of close friends and family, to separate the individual from the character. Yet, invariably, a sliver of me always remains in the roles I portray.
STRIPLV: You wax lyrical about directors all of the time. Is it something you could ever see yourself doing?
CUMBERBATCH: I'm not quite sure, to be honest, but even if I did, I wouldn't be anywhere near as good as some of the directors who have directed me. The amazing thing is that it's not just about getting a good cast or having a great story, it's about having the parts of the piece fitting perfectly. So, if it's an action film or TV series, you may want it to be unrelenting. Of course, you can have the backstory elements and the down-tempo sections to add a layer of solemness or subtlety to it. However, it takes a great visionary to piece those things together and working with a skilled editor. Everything would have to be right for me to even consider going to work on the other side of the camera like that – of course, I have produced, but that's entirely different and has its own intricacies. In short, it depends!
STRIPLV: You've been accused of being uncool in the past. What do you think about that?
CUMBERBATCH: Being labelled as 'uncool' has never been a concern for me. Throughout my career, I've learned that authenticity holds more weight than fleeting notions of coolness. Our craft demands genuineness, and if that means being perceived as 'uncool' at times, then so be it. Truly, the roles I've undertaken and the stories I've been privileged to tell matter more to me than societal labels. I believe it's essential to stay true to oneself rather than chase ever-changing standards of what's considered cool.
STRIPLV: Tell me about your deep love of music.
CUMBERBATCH: In my adolescent years during the '90s, my boarding school bedroom became a shrine to the likes of Ride, Frank Black, and, of course, David Bowie. I recall being quite the defiant youth, religiously following music magazines and all the latest goings on in the world of pop and rock. The pinnacle of Britpop was upon us, and the eternal debate in Britain in the mid-1990s was 'Blur or Oasis?'. For the record, I've always leaned towards Blur. Subsequently, my academic pursuits led me to study drama at Victoria University in Manchester. It was there that I explored the city's renowned nightlife. My university days were marked by a profound appreciation for techno music. Clubbing became a frequent activity, with a night which was called Havok. I wonder why. (Laughs) Which was on Fridays and that was my go-to for its exhilarating dance atmosphere. My love for dancing remains undiminished.
STRIPLV: Is it true that you could have been a painter?
Well, art has always been a passion of mine. During my formative years, I was genuinely drawn to painting – that's not meant to be a pun – and spent considerable time exploring it. While acting eventually took center stage in my life, my love for visual art remains.
I suppose, in another universe, I might've been on a different artistic journey as a painter. Still, I'm grateful for where my passions have led me.
STRIPLV: With your parents both being actors did that convince you on what path to choose?
CUMBERBATCH: Certainly, growing up with parents in the acting profession provided a unique lens into its realities. They often highlighted the uncertainties and stresses, emphasising the unpredictability of the next role. Their wish was for me to pursue a more stable career. However, once they recognized the depth of my passion for acting, they became my strongest pillars of support. Their experiences didn't deter me; instead, they offered invaluable insights and grounding.
STRIPLV: Do you still feel the adrenaline you did as a youth?
CUMBERBATCH: Not really. These days, the thrill of adrenaline doesn't hold the same appeal for me. I've had my adventures, and I cherish them. Now, my primary focus is my wife and our three sons. There's an overwhelming sense of contentment in knowing there are individuals in my life whom I deeply cherish and who, in many ways, matter more to me than my own self. I wholeheartedly embrace the responsibility they bring. On a lighter note, I did pick up surfing a while back. Embarking on this in my mid-40s isn't a cakewalk, but it's genuinely enjoyable and more suited for family outings. Though, I must admit, if I'm out in the waves a tad too long, my wife's pointed glances at the clock serve as a gentle reminder: it's time to refocus on family!


Hawking (2004)
Before James Marsh's The Theory Of Everything, this BBC film depicted Stephen Hawking's early years at Cambridge and his battle with motor neuron disease. While the film received overall acclaim, it was Cumberbatch's portrayal of Hawking that stood out.

Starter For 10 (2006)
In this British coming-of-age comedy featuring James McAvoy, a young man grapples with the challenges of university life, transitioning from humour to darker themes seamlessly. Cumberbatch plays Patrick Watts, the sharp-witted, emotionally strained Bristol University's University Challenge team leader. Despite his disciplined demeanour, his quirky exclamations, like: "Let's take these mothers out," bring both amusement and a mix of emotions toward his character.

Stuart: A Life Backwards (2007)
Tom Hardy's compelling portrayal of the eponymous Stuart Short is captivating, but the story hinges on its writer. Cumberbatch plays Alexander Masters, initially hesitant to pen Stuart's atypical biography. When prompted to write it in reverse, like a murder mystery, Alexander transcends societal norms and cultivates an authentic, peculiar bond with the troubled, self-harming individual.

Third Star (2010)
A group of friends venture to a secluded Welsh location, aiming to rekindle their bond. Amidst personal dilemmas and societal commentary on tech distractions, the film addresses deeper themes like mortality. While the storytelling is inconsistent, Cumberbatch's portrayal as James stands out. He brings depth to the narrative, leading his friends to his cherished spot and poignantly toasting their shared memories and love.

Wreckers (2011)
David and Dawn return to David's hometown, hoping it'll ease their journey to parenthood, but they're confronted with past traumas, a troubled family, and war-induced afflictions. D. R. Hood's debut feature skilfully escalates familial tensions, but Cumberbatch's nuanced portrayal of David truly elevates the film. Through his complex characterization, the movie transcends its socio-realist narrative, highlighting the intricacies of human emotion.