Benedict Cumberbatch is a film, TV and theatre actor mostly known for his spin on the iconic character Sherlock Holmes in the BBC drama Sherlock.
Benedict Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch has had a long and illustrious career showing off his TV and theatre acting skills, but it wasn't until 2010 when he took on the role of eccentric detective Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock that he came to the wider public's notice.
He made his entrance into the world on 19 July 1976 in London, England. It is perhaps no surprise that he ended up working in the world of entertainment as both his parents are actors - Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham.
Cumberbatch is known for his rich, deep baritone voice and he often uses this when he plays posh upper-class figures. It is likely that his experiences at school helped shape his accent and honed his skills at playing 'toffs'. He went to Brambletye School in West Sussex before winning a scholarship to Harrow School, a public school in London. It was here that he was introduced to the works of Terrance Ratigan and started to get involved with school productions.
In fact, his first acting role, while he was still at school, was Titania, Queen of the Faeries, in the William Shakespeare play A Midsummer's Night Dream. After graduating from Harrow, he took a gap year to teach English at a Tibetan monastery.
He then studied drama at the University of Manchester before training at the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Cumberbatch then went into the world of theatre. Since 2001, he has had major roles in a dozen classic plays at the Open Air Theatre in Regent's Park, at the Almeida Theatre, Royal Court Theatre and the National Theatre.
Cumberbatch's first TV appearance occurred in 2000 when he featured in an episode of Heartbeat - an experience he repeated in 2004. However, one of his first major roles was as Freddy in the controversial BBC drama Tipping the Velvet in 2002. He then had small parts in Silent Witness, To Kill A King, Cambridge Spies and Spooks in 2003.
In 2004, he played one of the major parts in Fortysomething portraying one of Hugh Laurie's and Anna Chancellor's sons in the comedy TV show. He appeared in all six episodes but it was his next role that truly showed off Cumberbatch's acting credentials. In the same year, he portrayed a young Stephen Hawking, making scientific discoveries and coping with the early stages of MN, in the TV movie Hawking.
The following year, he appeared in TV shows Nathan Barley, To the Ends of the Earth and Broken News. He also made a return to the stage playing Tesman in Hedda Gabler at the Almeida Theatre on 16 March 2005 and at the Duke of York's Theatre on 19 May 2005. Cumberbatch was nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role as a result.
Cumberbatch made his first foray into films in 2006 with a role in Starter For 10. He portrayed William Pitt the Younger in Amazing Grace, which is the story of William Wilberforce's lengthy political fight to eliminate slavery in the British Empire in the 18th century. Pitt was Wilberforce's friend and political ally. This role led to Cumberbatch receiving a nomination for the London Film Critics Circle British Breakthrough Acting Award.
In 2007, he appeared in film Atonement before teaming up with Tom Hardy for the gritty TV movie Stuart: A Life Backwards. He has continued to vary his work between the big screen and TV, for example, he acted in the film The Other Boleyn Girl and the TV series The Last Enemy in 2008.
For the latter, he was nominated for a Satellite Award for Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Film. After this, Cumberbatch appeared in Marple: Murder is Easy, followed by Creation in 2009. His role in Small Island the same year earned him a BAFTA Television award for Best Supporting Actor nomination.
He returned to the stage in 2010 by acting in The Children's Monologues on 14 November that year, which was a star-studded theatrical event for charity. The same year, he appeared in Burlesque Fairytales, Four Lions, Third Star and The Whistleblower. His two stand-out roles that year were Vincent Van Gogh in the TV film Van Gogh: Painted With Words and Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock. This critically acclaimed series returned in 2012 and has made Cumberbatch a star.
In 2011, Cumberbatch acted in films Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, War Horse and Wreckers before taking to the stage. In February 2011, he began playing on alternate nights both Victor Frankenstein and his monster opposite Johnny Lee Miller in Danny Boyle's Frankenstein at the National Theatre, In April 2012, Cumberbatch won the Olivier Award for Best Actor jointly with Miller.
He split with his long-term girlfriend of 12 years, Olivia Poulet, in March 2011 but he didn't let this affect his career. After a successful 2011, his career is going from strength-to-strength. He signed on to appear in a third series of Sherlock and recently returned to TV screens in Parade's End. Later in 2012, he appeared in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey voicing the dragon Smaug, a role he reprised in 2013's The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug.
In 2013, he played the villain in the highly-anticipated Star Trek Into Darkness and also appeared inTwelve Years A Slave as well as independent film Phoenix.