From STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS to THE FIFTH ESTATE: How Benedict Cumberbatch Became a Household Name in 2013

     October 16, 2013


In 1976, Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch was ushered into our world; in 2013, his incredibly British moniker became a household name when he landed a starring role in the global hit, Star Trek Into Darkness.  Cumberbatch is anything but a one-hit wonder, however, having built a fan following with roles in Atonement, War Horse, and of course, playing the title character in Sherlock.  Cumberbatch continues to test his skills by taking on roles across the spectrum, from voice roles in television with The Simpsons and Peter Jackson’s blockbuster trilogy, The Hobbit, to awards-worthy turns in 12 Years a Slave, The Fifth Estate and August: Osage County.  Hit the jump for more on Cumberbatch’s career, including where he’s been, what we’ll see him in this year, and what films are yet to come.

Before 2013, aka The pre-Cumberbatchian Era

sherlock-martin-freeman-benedict-cumberbatchPrior to 2013, Benedict Cumberbatch had starred in a number of projects in the U.K. that formed the foundation of his career.  Those early years included a turn as Hugh Laurie’s son in the short-lived series, Fortysomething; starring as Stephen Hawking in the TV movie, Hawking, and Vincent van Gogh in the TV movie, Van Gogh: Painted with Words; and roles in period dramas Atonement, The Other Boleyn Girl, War Horse and Parade’s End.  His biggest move into the zeitgeist came with the starring role in Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat’s series, Sherlock.  His quirky and abrasive take on the Arthur Conan Doyle character paved the way for Cumberbatch to take center screen on an even bigger stage.

2013: The Year of the Cumberbatch

His first foray into massive blockbuster films came by way of a voice role in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  It was a brief role to be sure, but his baritone voice will be heard again in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, due out December 13, 2013, as well as the concluding chapter, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, opening December 17, 2014.  Unquestionably, Cumberbatch’s biggest role came as the divisive villain in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness.  The film’s exhaustive marketing campaign and ongoing mystery surrounding John Harrison’s true identity resulted in Benedict Cumberbatch’s name making its way into our pop culture lexicon.  (It doesn’t hurt that his name is a hell of a lot of fun to say.)  Even if Star Trek Into Darkness was Cumberbatch’s biggest spotlight so far, he still has three major awards-contending films coming out later this year, plus more high-profile features in years to come.

To Cumberbatch … and Beyond!

the-fifth-estate-benedict-cumberbatch-2The end of 2013 is only a couple of months away and yet Cumberbatch still has three more movies coming out.  Opening this weekend is Bill Condon’s The Fifth Estate, in which Cumberbatch stars as Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks who facilitated whistle-blowers’ anonymity in exposing government secrets and corporate crimes.  You can read Matt’s TIFF 2013 review here, and check out an interview with Cumberbatch himself here.  The Fifth Estate opens October 18th.  The other awards-worthy Cumberbatch films are Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave also opening in limited release on October 18th, and John Wells’ August: Osage County opening in limited release on December 25th.

Don’t fret, Cumberbatch will return post-2013 for more films that run the gamut of genres.  He’s currently filming The Imitation Game, a biographical drama on famed mathematician Alan Turing (Cumberbatch), from director Morten Tyldum, plus two voice roles for The Penguins of Madagascar and Magik.  Another project to keep an eye on is The Lost City of Z, an adventure biography based on legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett’s (Cumberbatch) ill-fated journey into the Amazon.  While 2013 has certainly been Cumberbatch’s year,  it’s safe to say that this is just the beginning and we’ll have plenty more years of his work (and his name) to look forward to.

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