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Hi-Res ! 2014 03 18 - London - Trafalgar Public House - Royal Court Theatre Pub Quiz by Helen Murray

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April De Angelis, Benedict Cumberbatch and Chris de Pury. Helen Murray.

Meera Syal, Lindsay Duncan, Benedict Cumberbatch and Vicky Featherstone. Helen Murray.

Benedict Cumberbatch: a Hamlet worth waiting for - Telegraph


This time next year, Benedict Cumberbatch will make his debut as Hamlet at the Barbican.The media has predicted a “frenzied rush”, an “unrivalled box-office stampede” and an “unprecedented demand” for tickets, which go on sale today, due to the appeal of its star.

That is what’s going to happen. It’s actually only the first stage of priority booking that opens today, the general public won’t get a chance to buy tickets for another ten days, but with over 3000 people signing up to Barbican membership in the past three months the website may be under some strain today. There will however be 100 additional £10 seats made available on the day of each performance. We can expect the queues for those to stretch across London.

The rise and rise of Cumberbatch has been a thing to behold. This geeky Old Harrovian, now 38, with his washed-out colouring, small slanting eyes and propensity to gabble now regularly features in lists of the world’s sexiest / most influential / most eligible men. My favourite of recent times is Tatler’s tabling him at number five last year in its ranking of the world’s most fascinating people - that’s below Clare Balding but above the Duchess of Cambridge.

And yet even if such lists are meaningless and their fevered implication that he has an import beyond the world of acting absurd, Cumberbatch deserves a great deal of his adulation. For once, good luck and happenstance as well as some sensible career choices have propelled a real talent foward. There isn’t a better British actor with Cumberbatch’s level of fame working today. He long ago outstripped his obvious comparison point in the world of British TV, the more tricksy David Tennant. He’s moved past his sometime co-star and bona fide Hollywood draw James McAvoy in both range and depth of roles. Instead he now shares billing and holds his own alongside Meryl Streep (in August: Osage County).

It is useful to consider his work before 2010, when his mercurial interpretation of Sherlock Holmes in the BBC One rebootso impressed the world it turned him into an international star. On stage he excelled at parts which required a sort of wilful obtuseness, be it as Hedda Gabler’s nerdy husband Jørgen Tesman in the Ibsen play, taking endless abuse from his wife, or the selfish yet self-destructive David Scott-Fowler in Terence Rattigan’s After the Dance. He offered characters with plenty to object to, but with a humanity that was piercingly recognisable. He could make us love them even as we despaired at them - a trick he also managed particularly touchingly in the little-seen British film Third Star, where he played a self-regarding terminally ill man.

Cumberbatch plays with such subtlety because he is bright. He can do complex, because he understands it. Says Richard Eyre, who directed him in Hedda, “Benedict is witty, mercurial… thoughtful and expert. He’s very intelligent but he doesn’t let it show by commenting on the character he is playing.” He has a rare ability to remain present in the moment of the scene he is playing and not act as if he is anticipating events that are yet to come. Susanna White, who directed him as Christopher Tietjens in the 2012 BBC adaptation of Ford Madox Ford’s novel sequence Parade’s End, explains that he, “loves trying different ways of doing a scene. Some actors come with fully set ideas of how they want to play a scene. He’s not like that. He often just works in the moment.”

Cumberbatch is also expert at exploiting the moment. Most can picture his chameleon-like changes of expression as Sherlock. But he let more soul into his woefully underappreciated performance as the troubled Tietjens (it got an Emmy nomination but Bafta slept through it) – a scene at the end of the first episode has him stroke his horse with palpable yearning for some sort of communion, as he lets flicker across his face all the sadness of having a faithless wife. And he nearly stole the 2007 film of Atonement with his tiny part as the arrogant, upper-crust Paul Marshall. His performance in that hinges on the chilling sequence when he gives a 15-year-old girl a chocolate bar and tells her, “Bite it, you have to bite it,” as his hawk-like eyes narrow and his suddenly lascivious lips hang slightly open. Marshall later rapes her.

Since Sherlock, Cumberbatch’s film roles have got grander, from playing a Star Trek villain to a major in War Horse to the disgraced darling of the left, Julian Assange. But always he remembers the detail, thrives on nuance. In Steve McQueen’s film 12 Years a Slave he gives a deeply moving performance as a slave-owner of compromised decency. But I wish he’d been given the plum role, that went to Michael Fassbender, of the more obviously bad Master Epps. Fassbender played him as an inexplicable sadist, but I suspect Cumberbatch would have found moments to make him a human being, and paint in the self-loathing that must have driven him.

A word on Cumberbatch, the man. Susanna White talks of how “there is an essential goodness and kindness about him”. A director friend of mine auditioned Cumberbatch for a small film before he was famous. He wasn’t right for the part but the director nearly gave it to him because he was such delightful, genuine company. I’ve spent a half hour with Cumberbatch myself, interviewing him, during which he was faultlessly polite, complimentary, warm and generous, as well as talking nineteen to the dozen. It was around the time he was saying some not altogether flattering things about Downton Abbey, but I heard these words in their context – later denied them by some publications - of accompanying ample praise of the show and the actors who play in it.

Not all great actors make great Hamlets. Ralph Fiennes’s was oddly two dimensional; Michael Sheen performed a couple of years ago in a production so wholly misconceived it was impossible to make sense of the character’s motivations. But Cumberbatch surely has the skills to yoke in the melancholy, wild optimism and nobility of this most fascinating and irresolvable of roles. He should make a sweet prince indeed.

Tickets for Hamlet go on sale today at 10am (Barbican Red Members only; booking is available to Orange Members on Monday). Tickets will be released to the general public on 11 August ( Lyndsey Turner’s production will run from 6 August to 31 October 2015.

ohmysaintedpyjamas спросил(a):

Do you happen to know, or maybe take a guess at what work project is next on Benedict's busy agenda? I know the major stuff like Lost City, etc. But there's quite a lot of year left and wondered what he might squeeze in for the next few months :)


Presumably he is doing Yellow Birds at some point over the coming months & then he has the new Hollow Crown trilogy which will see him make brief apperances in the first two films before doing Richard III. New year he has Lost City & the Sherlock special. Plus of course all the promoting/campaigning for The Imitation Game.

Benedict Cumberbatch says thank you to those who supported The Prince's Trust


The Prince’s Trust yesterday sent out an email containing a quote from Benedict Cumberbatch thanking everyone who was kind enough to donate to our fundraiser this year in honour of The Princes Trust.

Benedict said:

“I’m so proud of my fans and the importance they’ve seen in helping a cause I am so fervently enthralled to.

I’ve been incredibly fortunate over the years. I always knew that I wanted to work as an actor and have been extremely lucky to get where I am today. It hasn’t been without hard work and determination, but a key ingredient to anyone’s self-confidence and personal success, is the support and guidance that comes from having a role model.

I also know that many young people don’t have such opportunities. With no role model, life can be daunting and self-esteem can drop making it harder to ask for help. It’s a vicious cycle. That’s why I am a Prince’s Trust Ambassador – believing every young person deserves a chance in life is a vision we both share.”

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