“ACTING WAS A BRILLIANT VENT TO CHANNEL WAYWARD ENERGY AS A CHILD. I WAS BORN WITH NOTHING BUT LOVE AND GREAT FORTUNE BUT I WAS REALLY DISRUPTIVE IN CLASS”
WORLD EXCLUSIVE and Warhorse (both 2011) and 12 Years a Slave (2013) while bringing gravitas to blockbuster franchises like Star Trek and The Hobbit series. This year he’s garnered an Oscar-nomination for his leading role in The Imitation Game and on a personal level was engaged in late 2014 and set to be a father in 2015. Is it hard to keep two feet on the ground 72 floors up? “I’m really aware of how extraordinary things are at the moment,” he begins. “The old cliché is that people can get spoilt by all of this. I hope that’s not the case for me. I surround myself with people who remind me of who I am all the time. I sat next to James McAvoy last night at an awards ceremony and he’s a shining light in that regard. He doesn’t take it too seriously and remains true to himself wherever he is.” Acting’s in the blood for Cumberbatch – his dad Timothy has been a professional TV and stage actor since the 60s in series like A Family at War and Executive Stress – while his mum played glamorous roles in era-defining UK comedy films including Carry On Up The Khyber (1968) and Rodney Trotter’s mother-in-law in the legendary TV series Only Fools and Horses in the late 80s and early 90s. Early experiences of seeing his mother appear on stage left a strong impression on the young Benedict and marked out a clear career path. “I was hanging out in the dressing room and seeing her get ready and then there was this energy switch, an open door and then a flood of light, heat and the roar of the crowd. I remember going on school trips into town and thinking I’m so proud of the fact that this is my parents’ world and it’s what I want to join.” His parents weren’t so keen though. “They wanted me to do anything but,” he laughs. He considered becoming a barrister for a while but after meeting a few less-thanenthused jobbing lawyers dismissed the idea and started to take acting more seriously. “Why give up on your primary dream?” he says. “In my late teens the focus became clear to me. I really stepped up a gear then.” A self-confessed ‘bold’ child he also credits acting with giving that tendency an outlet: “In my case it was a brilliant vent to channel wayward energy. I was born with nothing but love and great fortune but I think behaviourally I was really disruptive in class.” Ask about influences and he’s quick to reel off a long list of performances that left indelible memories including Colin Firth in the Falklands war-based BBC TV film Tumbledown (1988) to Judy Dench, “in pretty much everything I’ve ever seen her in and of course Brando, De Niro, Hepburn, Newman…and Grant for style.” Despite being thoroughly schooled in theatre acting before film he doesn’t declare a preference. “My CV answers that one,” he says swiftly before expanding on his answer. “They are such different muscles to flex and have their own rewards and obstacles so I will always try to mix it up. I think they feed off each other. I’m doing Richard III at the SKY’S THE LIMIT The Shard is not the newest building in London (it opened in 2012) but at 310 metres tall at its tip, it’s still the tallest in the city, and indeed Western Europe moment which obviously is a classic Shakespeare English play but on film there’s such an immediacy in talking to the camera. At the same time it’s a far colder experience, this dark lens and you can’t see your audience to directly address. But the benefit is that I can talk to the camera like this [he’s talks quietly, then shouts], ‘RATHER THAN HAVING TO THROW MY VOICE’.” Beyond acting, Cumberbatch remembers growing up in a ‘regular’ rather than ‘enthusiast’ household, regarding car culture although he fondly tells of making Tamiya kit cars while at school, “it was an off-road thing with a long wheelbase so it could get stuck on things. If you got it right they’d fly for a bit and then land and they had those really heavy Nicad batteries. Do you remember them? Charge up for about 24 hours and you’d get about 30 minutes riding joy, but it was a joy. That was my earliest driving experience.” His parents used to own an MG sportscar before he came along and his first car after passing his test, first time, was an old-school Mini he shared with his mum. He’s less keen to talk about a Mitsubishi Colt hatchback inherited from his grandmother and a Mazda MX-5, the only car he bought with his own money. “It was a secondhand little convertible soft top, a hairdresser’s car,” he smiles. “It was fun but I got a lot of stick and hardly drove it. And then Jaguar came into my life and my car THE DYNAMIC ISSUE j 67
Jaguar Magazine celebrates creativity in all its forms, with exclusive features that inspire sensory excitement, from beautiful design to cutting-edge technology.
In this issue, we explore the art of creativity from the Brazilian masters who devised the graceful art of Capoeira, to the Irish artists mixing new culture with old. You will also discover the creative line that links Victorian wallpaper to the iPhone. While the multi-talented actor and performer, Riz Ahmed, explains why it is the right time to reveal his true self to the world.
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