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The Many Faces of Benedict Cumberbatch

Remember that years-long wait between Sherlock series 2 and 3? Turns out Benedict Cumberbatch was busy. Amie Simon reports on some of his many roles that may or may not be catalogued in his “mind palace.”

Sherlock fans know English actor Benedict Cumberbatch as the devastatingly smart, socially awkward, and very smug modern sleuth solving crimes in 21st century London, but on May 11 they’ll have a chance to see him in a totally different role: as bearded, red-headed painter Vincent Van Gogh.

Cumberbatch has had a prolific career, which makes sense because of his ability to completely transform himself to perfectly fit whatever role he’s been cast in. Let’s take a look at some of his more striking roles and celebrate our love for this handsome actor.

Benedict made a splash in 2007 with a small (but very creepy) role in the period drama Atonement, in which he played Paul Marshall, a man obsessed with a young girl. His uncontrollable lust combined with another girl’s jealousy ruined another man’s life. But at least he ended up making it right? For the girl? In the end? Okay, not really, but we can’t hold that against Cumberbatch. He was just playing a part … very well. That pencil-thin mustache and the way he asked her to eat chocolate really sold it.

In 2011, he donned 70s suits and blond bangs (and wow, did he wear both of those WELL) to play British Intelligence agent Peter Guilliam, a small but important role in the ensemble drama Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

(Bonus: See Laura Carmichael, aka Lady Edith, in a whole new light and hairstyle!)

2013 was a super busy year for Cumberbatch, and he has a BAFTA British Artist of the Year award to show for it! He engaged us with his reinvention of popular Star Trek villain Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness, donned a white wig to play a fictionalized version of WikiLeaks founder Juilan Assange in The Fifth Estate, had an important supporting role in August: Osage County, and voiced both the Necromancer and the giant dragon Smaug in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Cumberbatch also has a pivotal role in the Best Motion Picture of 2013, 12 Years a Slave, as Northup’s first “owner,” Ford. That is a lot of roles to pack into one year! And also a lot of hairpieces …

Just for fun, let’s wrap up this look at Benedict’s career by taking a look at his time in the National Theatre productions of Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead (playing Rosencrantz) and Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein (where he alternated playing the monster and the doctor with Jonny Lee Miller).

Benedict as Rosencrantz:

Frankenstein Trailer:

Benedict as the doctor in Frankenstein (this one is a little fuzzy)

Catch up on what you’ve missed from this great actor! Van Gogh: Painted with Words airs Sunday, May 11, at 10pm on KCTS 9.

  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Paul Marshall in Atonement. Bevan, Tim; Fellner, Eric, Webster, Paul (Producers) & Wright, Joe (Director). 2007. UK | France | USA: Focus Features.
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate. Doris, Brad; Golin, Steve; Sugar, Michael (Producers) & Condon, Bill (Director). 2013. USA | UK | Belgium: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
  • Benedict Cumberbatch as Vincent Van Gogh in Van Gogh: Painted with Words. Yentob, Alan (Producer) & Hutton, Andrew (Director). 2010. UK: BBC1.