While the PBS anthology series Masterpiece is the home to countless living British acting legends, the real jewel in the franchise’s crown has been the sheer volume of stars that have emerged from their programs. And no one more so than breakout Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch.
Not too long ago, the Londoner was a rising star looking for his big break. That came — and then some — in 2010 when he stepped out of the sleuth’s iconic Baker Street address for the first time. Subsequent seasons, and a smattering of high-profile movie roles, have turned Cumberbatch into one of the world’s most popular actors, both online and in the entertainment industry.
On Jan. 20, the day after the U.S. premiere (which drew 4 million viewers), Cumberbatch appeared at the Television Critics Association winter press tour in support of Season 3 of Sherlock. Since the event is closed to the public, here is everything you missed, from his clothes to his quotes!
Let it be known that the fans swarmed the hotel in anticipation of his arrival (a rarity despite the A-list actors who’ve come through TCA this year, like Matthew McConaughey and Julia Roberts). When asked about the impact Sherlock has had on his life, particularly these fans, Cumberbatch replied, “It’s extraordinary.”
“I think a lot of it comes with who [Sherlock] is,” he continued. “He’s a very iconic figure. I feel not an onerous sense of responsibility, but it has to be acknowledged and I feel gratitude that they’re supportive and loyal and committed to something I love doing. And a character I love playing. So, it means a lot to me.”
Cumberbatch revealed the fan that caught him most by surprise was Harrison Ford. During a recent joint appearance on The Graham Norton Show, the Star Wars icon revealed how much he enjoys Sherlock. “That was a genuine shock,” Cumberbatch said. “He’s a phenomenal actor, my hero, so for [him] to know you and say [he’s a] big fan floored me.”
But there is something more important to Cumberbatch than the fans’ unbridled enthusiasm. “It also means a lot to me that families will sit down together Sunday nights around the TV – that’s what I really get a kick from,” he said, adding that another wonderful byproduct of the show’s popularity is that it’s caused the sales of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s books to skyrocket.
People who know Cumberbatch (who was sporting a slick navy blue suit, sans tie at TCA) were stunned to discover his real-life parents, Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham (seen above), play Sherlock’s parents in an upcoming episode.
“We kept it secret from everybody,” the actor said, adding that everyone who has seen the episode marvels at how closely Sherlock’s relationship with his parents mirrors Benedict’s relationship with his parents. As for how it all came together, the actor laughed, “They were trained actors and available.”
Given the fact that fourth and fifth seasons of Sherlock have been all but ordered, the question of the hour was whether or not a time will arise when playing Sherlock becomes too much for Cumberbatch. “No. No. No. I don’t think so,” he said.
“It’s a schedule-providing thing. The [producers] probably had a tougher time with it. I play enough other mad people to vary the palate of what I’m scrabbling around in my head as a storyteller. I love it and find it very invigorating. He’s really hard work, [but] I love him to bits.”