Benedict CumberbatchJul 19, 1976, London, England, UK
The man with the unlikely marquee name, Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch, was born on July 19, 1976 in London, England to British actors Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham. He attended Brambletye School in West Sussex and then Harrow School in London, where he first began dabbling as an actor. Cumberbatch then took a year off to teach English in a Tibetan monastery, before attending the University of Manchester as a drama student. After continuing his training at the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, he began making the rounds on stage, appearing in productions such as "Hedda Gabler" (2005) and in the 2011 stage production of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein." During this time, he also began making inroads on television with guest starring roles on dramas like "Silent Witness" (BBC, 1996- ) and in the 2003 made-for-TV historical movie "Cambridge Spies," about the lives of four British men recruited to spy for Russia in the early 1930s. In 2003, Cumberbatch joined the cast of ITV's "Fortysomething," as one of the sex-obsessed sons of a middle-aged doctor (Hugh Laurie) who can hear the inner thoughts of others.Cumberbatch's career took off after starring in the 2004 BBC biopic "Hawking," a critically acclaimed drama about the early days of noted physicist Stephen Hawking while working at the University of Cambridge. He continued to earn rave reviews for his performances in the BBC miniseries "To the Ends of the Earth," based on a trilogy of novels by William Golding that told the story of a young British aristocrat who travels to Australia by ship in 1812. By this time, Cumberbatch had become a widely sought film actor in period pieces like "Atonement" (2007) and "The Other Boleyn Girl" (2008), as one of King Henry VIII's courtiers and husband of Mary Boleyn (Scarlett Johansson). He returned to his miniseries roots with a lead role in the thriller "The Last Enemy" (BBC, 2008), a story of a government conspiracy involving a deadly virus as seen through the eyes of a mathematical genius. The talented actor next tackled a string of British films and TV projects including "Small Island" (BBC, 2009) and "Van Gogh: Painted with Words" (2010), a small-screen drama where he delivered an impassioned performance as famed Dutch post-impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh.Cumberbatch then took pop culture by storm as star of the BBC hit detective drama series "Sherlock," a modern take on the classic tales of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about Britain's most famous sleuth and his partner, Dr. Watson (Martin Freeman). Cumberbatch's quirky yet confident portrayal of Holmes was decidedly his breakout role, earning him critical acclaim as well as commercial success beyond his native England. Early in the season, Cumberbatch wowed critics and fans alike by bringing a classic literary figure into the 21st century and making him relevant in the age of the Internet. He was duly honored with an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie in 2012. In addition, the actor's unconventionally handsome looks made him a bona fide heartthrob on both sides of the Atlantic. In 2011, Cumberbatch continued making waves by appearing in the Oscar-nominated thriller "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," as a former head of the British intelligence who is demoted to run a branch of the service known as "the scalp hunters." He also appeared that year in Steven Spielberg's "War Horse," a story of a teenage boy in England who enlists to serve in World War I after his horse is sold to the cavalry.By 2012, Cumberbatch's career was on a remarkable rise, and he even accumulated his own diehard fan base, known collectively as the "Cumberb*tches." After starring in the lauded period miniseries "Parade's End" (BBC/HBO, 2012) with Rebecca Hall, he filmed his highly secretive role as the main villain in "Star Trek Into Darkness" (2013), marking his arrival as a full-blown movie star. Playing a character both sinister and sympathetic in the summer blockbuster, he fittingly followed up that performance as the fearsome dragon Smaug in "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" (2013). In case there was any question that 2013 was the Year of Cumberbatch, he also portrayed less fantastical characters in the acclaimed historical drama "12 Years a Slave," the Julian Assange biopic "The Fifth Estate" and the family saga "August: Osage County," all roles that required the actor's compelling charm and nuanced presence. Following a new series of "Sherlock," Cumberbatch portrayed embattled genius Alan Turing in "The Imitation Game" (2014) and on a lighter note provided a voice for the animated comedy sequel "Penguins of Madagascar" (2014). The following year, he played Massachusetts politician William Bulger in Boston gangster drama "Black Mass" (2015), and it was announced that he had been cast in the title role of the Marvel Comics film "Doctor Strange" (2016). He also had a small role as an otherworldly model in Ben Stiller's "Zoolander No. 2" (2016).