Oct. 11: Benedict Cumberbatch has scheduled appearances on Good Morning America, Katie, and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. This is how his fans spent the day.
A few minutes before sunrise, more than 30 Cumberbatch fans are lined up outside 30 Rock in the hopes of getting standby tickets to The Jimmy Fallon Show.
Audience tickets for the program are given out four to five weeks in advance (long before guests are announced), so those wanting to see a specific actor or musician's in-person appearance line up early on the day of the show for a chance at obtaining standby tickets. If ticket holders don't show up, those with standby tickets are given the empty seats according to their spot in the early-morning line.
At 9 a.m., a show coordinator will distribute standby tickets to those in line, making sure to note each person's place. Would-be attendees come back in the afternoon and wait to see if they'll make it into the audience.
One group of friends came into town for New York Comic-Con, but decided to change their plans for today when they learned of Cumberbatch's media appearances.
All of the fans happily welcome everyone who shows up over the next hour. Once conversations begin, many people realize that they "know" each other from Tumblr.
Benedict Cumberbatch arrives in a town car and quickly enters the studio, waving at fans on the way in.
The moment is so brief that the group barely has time to wave, let alone scream or shout the actor's name. Once he's inside the building, chaos — and high-pitched squeals of happiness — erupts. "He's a real person!" one NYU student repeats to her friend. "He's actually a real person!" Another fan holds her hands up to demonstrate to the group how they're actually shaking. Everyone hopes that Cumberbatch will be able to sign autographs or take photos after his Good Morning America interview.
Rapper Vanilla Ice is also a guest on the show today. He comes over to greet the fans in line, seeming not to realize that they're exclusively waiting for Cumberbatch. People chat and take photos with him, but they're clearly less than starstruck.
Many people walking by the barricade stop and ask, "Who's coming out? Who are you waiting for?" The response, "Benedict Cumberbatch" doesn't register with any of the curious men and women — the fans attempt to explain, offer examples of his work, but the commuters and tourists still appear confused as they walk away. Given the number of movies the actor will appear in over the next few months (The Fifth Estate, 12 Years a Slave, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and August Osage County), it seems unlikely that this will be the universal response the next time he comes to America.
Cumberbatch exits the studio and immediately makes a beeline to the barricade to greet waiting fans.
It's a small group, no more than 25 people, so Cumberbatch takes time to pose for photos (or take them himself) and sign autographs.
Fans have brought a variety of items for the actor to sign. Some have Star Trek: Into Darkness DVDs, some have magazines, one fan brought the script to the play August Osage County, which Cumberbatch signed with a smile.
After five minutes of signing and selfies, Cumberbatch apologizes profusely and says that he needs to leave. Once again, he thanks everyone for coming. The fans, in turn, thank him for making time for them.
After he leaves, the high-pitched noises of happiness that have been suppressed until now erupt from the fans. Women who met in line an hour ago hug each other like best friends, jumping up and down. "Oh my god, that actually just happened! That happened!" Amanda-Rae Prescott exclaims. As the group disperses, nearly every conversation is about how the brief encounter with their favorite actor went better than they ever could have imagined.
Fifteen minutes after a Fallon show employee began handing out standby tickets, there's still a line of at least 40 people. A 30 Rock security guard says that the line for tickets today was "a bit longer" than what she normally sees.
More than 100 people receive standby tickets by the line's end.
They were all told to report back to 30 Rock at 3:15 to learn if they would be in the audience for the taping.
Cumberbatch signs a few photographs, but quickly goes into the building when the autograph hunters begin to jostle the barricade.
It begins to rain and the group of well-prepared fans pull out umbrellas, obviously prepared to wait until Cumberbatch re-emerges. The autograph hunters and lone paparazzo depart; approximately 15 fans remain.
More so than the group of fans outside Good Morning America, these women (and one man) have gone to a fair amount of trouble to make sure they wouldn't miss seeing Cumberbatch in America.
A huddle of teenagers giggle about how they're missing classes to stand outside the studio in the hopes of a picture or autograph. One older fan admits to skipping work to do the same. Four people are missing New York Comic-Con. Twenty-one year-old-Page Schumacher's story is the most impressive: She took a 3:00 a.m. train from Maryland "on an impulse" so that she'd be able to see Cumberbatch in New York. "I regretted not coming up and seeing him the last time he was on Jimmy Fallon," Schumacher says. "I don't have classes on Fridays, it was only three hours, and $75, so I decided to do it." When asked if it's been worth it so far, she smiles. "Well, I've seen him, which wasn't something I could say before today."
Cumberbatch exits the studio as rain continues to drizzle. Although members of his team urge him towards the waiting town car, he stops, turns towards the slightly damp fans, and begins to quickly sign the DVDs and photos that are being offered to him.
He poses for a group picture, to the delight of the small assembly.
Of the 100+ fans who received standby tickets, only six are admitted into the Fallon taping. Later, on the show, Fallon will tell Cumberbatch that more people tried for tickets to his show than any other show this year.
The fans who didn't make the cut converge on the 30 Rock entrance where Cumberbatch arrived.
A swarm of humanity descends the moment Cumberbatch exits the building.
He signs items for fans as he slowly makes his way towards the car, politely apologizing that he can't stay and greet more fans.
He signs a final item through the open window and then, once again, thanks the fans for supporting him.
After a few dazed moments, everyone departs, talking excitedly to one another about all of the new Cumberbatch interviews that will soon be available.
Update - Oct. 14, 6:30 p.m: Benedict Cumberbatch also participated in a Reddit AmA on Friday. Today, the website confirmed exclusively to BuzzFeed that the session was one of the most-trafficked AmAs of 2013 to date.
Reddit also revealed some analytics from the AmA:
Benedict Cumberbatch's Q&A session attracted 1.4 million page views and 797,556 unique views on Friday. Viewers spent an average of 2 minutes, 36 seconds on the page.