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20 Things You Didn't Know about Benedict Cumberbatch

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Benedict Cumberbatch is a well-known British actor born and raised in London back in 1976.  While Cumberbatch has had roles in several movies, plays, and television shows, he is best known for his role in the television show Sherlock that plays on BBC. Benedict Cumberbatch plays the main character, Sherlock Holmes.

It was not until 2004 that Benedict Cumberbatch got his big break; when he scored the part playing a young Stephen Hawking in the television movie called Hawking. Some films you may have seen him in include the films Atonement, Stuart: S Life Backwards, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Star Trek: Into the Darkness, and War Horse.

Cumberbatch has received several awards and nominations for his acting skills. He has received Golden Globe and Oscar nominations, as well as a BAFTA nomination and three Primetime Emmy Award nominations. In 2013, he had parts in four films that had received Oscar nominations; August: Osage County, 12 Years A Slave, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Fans of Benedict Cumberbatch may have already known all of the above. Now, prepare to be amazed by what you did not already know about your favorite actor.

1. Benedict Cumberbatch's eyes change colors

And I do not mean with colored contact lenses. He has an uncommon condition called Heterochromia Iridis. This causes his eyes to sometimes appear blue and sometimes green. For some with this condition, eyes can be two different colors at the same time (one eye blue and the other green). In Benedict Cumberbatch's case, his eyes always match. However, the blue, green, and gold combinations in his irises can vary and change the color of his eyes from day to day.

2. Benedict Cumberbatch is an artist.

Yes, an actor is a type of artist, but that is not what I am referring to here. Benedict Cumberbatch went to Harrow school on an art scholarship he had earned. He painted large oil canvas paintings and self-portraits; some of which he has sold for charity. It was during this time that he began acting as well.

3. Everyone has to start somewhere.

While at the Harrow School, Benedict Cumberbatch's drama teacher and mentor, Martin Tyrell, has said he could see the star quality in Benedict Cumberbatch as early as the age of thirteen. He made his acting debut there, at The Harrow School, in Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream. He played the part of Tatnia, and thus began his acting career.

4. Benedict Cumberbatch pushed the Virgin Mary off the stage. 

In his school's nativity play, Benedict Cumberbatch played the part of Joseph. Apparently, he felt his co-star, playing the part of the virgin Mary, was taking too long and hogging the spotlight. So he gave her a little nudge and pushed her right off the stage onto the floor.  Needless to say it wasn't Benedict's finest moment as a stage actor.

5. Benedict Cumberbatch's parents are both actors.

They actually tried to discourage him from becoming an actor and tried to give him the most normal life possible. However, their attempts were futile and theater was his dream. Surprisingly, they have both appeared on his hit television show, Sherlock. In the episode of Sherlock where Sherlock's parents come to visit, the parents were Benedict Cumberbatch's actual, real-life parents. He was happy and excited to have them on the show, but admits the experience was nerve-wracking for him. He has also said he almost cried watching the scene.

6. Benedict Cumberbatch has survived a real kidnapping attempt. 

The terrifying kidnapping attempt took place while he was filming the BBC mini-series To The Ends of the Earth. Both Benedict Cumberbatch and his co-star Denise Black were kidnapped by six men. He says he nearly lost his life and could have been killed, but somehow managed to argue his way out of it. Surviving this near death experience has forced Benedict Cumberbatch to look at life differently.

7. Benedict Cumberbatch is an award-winning, renowned actor.

He has received several awards and nominations for his acting skills. He has received Golden Globe and Oscar nominations, as well as a BAFTA nomination. And that's not all. He received not one, not two, but three Primetime Emmy Award nominations as well as an Academy Award nomination. In 2013 alone, he had parts in four films that had received Oscar nominations; August: Osage County, 12 Years A Slave, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

8. Encouraged not to use the Cumberbatch for his professional acting career.

Neither she nor her husband uses the Cumberbatch name for their acting careers. She was afraid he would receive a negative reaction to the name. Why? Because their ancestors were slave owners. The Cumberbatch last name was common among people from the Caribbean because of their slave driving past. She was afraid he would become the target of the descendants of those slaves.

9. Dream Role is Elvis

Every actor or actress has a dream role; that one character they want to play, or the one person they dream about playing if a movie was ever made about their life. For Benedict Cumberbatch, the role he would most like to play if given a choice is none other than the king of rock and roll himself, Elvis Presley.  Boy would we love to see that dream become a reality.

10. Benedict Cumberbatch is multi-talented.

We know that. He can act, he can paint, and now he has added a musical outstanding talent to his repertoire. He also plays the violin. In order to portray a scene in which his character, Sherlock, plays the violin, Benedict Cumberbatch decided to learn how to play. Even more impressive is that he accomplished this great feat in only one week.  He did this because he wanted the scene to seem real and authentic, not just him pretending to play. His teacher, Eos Chater, was impressed with him and has even said Benedict Cumberbatch would be a good violinist if he pursued it.

11. Benedict Cumberbatch has a license to marry.

Well, he is already married, but he also is licensed to marry other people. He became a licensed officiator. When his friends Seth Cummings and Rob Rinder decided to take the big plunge and get married, it was Benedict Cumberbatch that officiated the ceremony for their Ibiza wedding.

12. Benedict Cumberbatch does not really have black hair.

In fact, his hair is naturally auburn. Although we are used to seeing him with a full head of thick, black curls, he was not born that way. He dyed his hair black for the part of Sherlock Holmes as well as his Star Trek in the Darkness character, Khan. He has said the black, curly hair is not his favorite look and he feels like it makes him look more feminine. He also lost weight in order to play the role of Sherlock Holmes, feeling Sherlock would be thinner.

This is not the only physical transformation he has gone through for a role. In order to play the role of Khan, he had to gain weight and bulk up.This resulted in him having to consume 4,000 calories a day. Once he was done with the part, he had to lose the weight again, which he claims was very hard to do.

13. Benedict Cumberbatch is a truly a professional actor.

I know, you are rolling your eyes. Okay, okay, you knew that already. But, did you know that he has a masters degree in classical acting? He studied drama at Manchester University, then pursued his dream by taking it even further by training at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. It was there that he earned his masters degree in classical acting. So, yes he truly is a professional actor and has the degree to prove it.

14. Benedict Cumberbatch is an impressionist.

His famous celebrity impersonations go as far as Bruce Willis, Chewbacca, and David Tennant. His best, most spot-on impression? The late Alan Rickman. Benedict Cumberbatch even voiced Rickman's Harry Potter character, Snape, for an episode of The Simpsons. If you missed it, he put on a short impersonation show of sorts on the Jimmy Fallon show.

15. Benedict Cumberbatch received the Order of the British Empire Award.

For his service to the performing arts industry as well as his charitable work. He was honored with his award as part of Queen Elizabeth II's 2015 birthday honors. He has said meeting the queen was both nerve-wracking and fantastic. Benedict Cumberbatch works with numerous charity foundations and organizations. Actually, that doesn't give him enough credit, he is active in many different charities that deal with many different afflictions.

Hefor helped raise money and awareness for the plight of the Syrian refugees. He recorded a video for the charity Save the Children. He collected money for charity in London following several performances of the Shakespearean play Hamlet. He also participated in a theatrical charity event at the Old Vic Theater. He had a role in The Children's Monologs. Benedict Cumberbatch is an ambassador for the Prince's Trust. He supports Odd Arts, Anno's Africa, and Dramatic Need.

After playing the role of Stephen Hawking, he became an ambassador for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. Benedict Cumberbatch also participated in the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge that everyone was doing to raise awareness. He has donated his own works of art for several charities, including the Willow Foundation and the Thomas Coram Foundation for Children. He set up a recovery fund for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association. He had joined the Stop the War Coalition back in 2003 and in 2010 addressed activists in the Trafe Union Congress in Westminster protest.

16. Being a celebrity scares Benedict Cumberbatch.

This is the only career he everwanted; his childhood dream. However, he worries and has said that sometimes being a celebrity is bearable and sometimes it isn't. These mixed feelings may be due to the kidnapping attempt in South Africa. It may also be due to another incident, this one happening at his home in London. One of Benedict Cumberbatch's neighbors was stalking him.  They were watching his every little move. As if that were not creepy enough, they were actually live-tweeting his every move while he was home in London. Each time he did something, they were tweeting it online for everyone to see.  Obviously, his neighbor had a privacy and boundary issue.

17. Benedict Cumberbatch was an English professor for one year.

He took one year off after graduating and uses it to teach English in a Tibetan monastery. He says that he stayed with the monks in their home and had the incredible honor of watching them at work and at prayer. He is grateful that he was able to teach them and interact with them. That must have been an amazing experience.

18. While shopping at a Greek market, Benedict Cumberbatch was stung by a wasp.

It is important to note here that he is allergic to bees. He even posted a picture of his swollen face on social media. During this embarrassing moment, a widow pulled his pants down in front of everyone, held him upside down and rubbed an onion on his bum.

19. Benedict Cumberbatch's fans are incredibly loyal. 

We can't even repeat what they call themselves.  In fact, he is not a fan of the term and has made a point of publicly announcing his extreme dislike of this derogatory name. As a self-proclaimed feminist, Benedict Cumberbatch says it sets feminism back so many notches. What is the name he would prefer his fans call themselves? The Cumberpeople. That has a nice ring to it.

20. Steven Spielberg has called Benedict Cumberbatch the best Sherlock on screen.

That is an honorable comment, one of the highest praises an actor will ever receive. This is especially incredible for someone that almost turned down the part of Sherlock Holmes. You read that right. Benedict Cumberbatch thought the remake would be cheap and cheesy and almost did not accept the part. Well, I guess it's a good thing he changed his mind.

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Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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