Benedict Cumberbatch to play ‘Hamlet’ on the London stage one year from now?

Tom Hiddleston better watch his ass. Benedict Cumberbatch is going to out-Shakespeare poor Hiddleston and it won’t even be a fair fight. Pretty soon, the Cumberbitches are going to claim that Cumby was always The First One to love Shakespeare and that Tommy is just copying his big brother, collecting Cumby crumbs from the Bard. In case you couldn’t guess, Benedict Cumberbatch has signed on to play the most famous Shakespearean character of all time: Hamlet! Poor Hiddles is probably weeping right now.

To be quite honest, I think Hiddleston would probably make a better Hamlet. Hamlet is an indecisive loser who spends the entire play trying to figure out if he should avenge his dead father. His dead father’s ghost comes to him and demands vengeance and still Hamlet dithers around for four more acts. That has Hiddleston written all over it. I had a professor once who said “If Macbeth had been in Hamlet’s position, it would have been a one-act play.” Still, Hamlet is considered the holy grail for actors, so I guess this is good news:

Benedict Cumberbatch is going from Sherlock to Shakespeare. The award-winning actor will play Hamlet, the troubled Danish prince, on the London stage in the autumn of 2014.

Cumberbatch joins the pantheon of modern Hamlets who have included Ben Whishaw, Jude Law, Simon Russell Beale, Mark Rylance, David Tennant and John Simm. Questioned several years ago on what stage role he yearned to play, Cumberbatch instantly responded: ‘Hamlet, obviously.’

The actor was sipping a Grey Goose cocktail at a party held in Toronto’s Soho House following the world premiere of The Fifth Estate at the Toronto International Film Festival when he let slip to me that he was actively pursuing a return to the theatre, following his role-swapping stint at the National in Danny Boyle’s production of Frankenstein back in 2011.

He wouldn’t tell me more, but after a process of elimination I hit upon Hamlet and the rumour led me, eventually, to the indefatigable producer Sonia Friedman, who confirmed that she was in ‘active discussions’ with Cumberbatch and celebrated director Lyndsey Turner.

Ms Turner directed Posh at the Royal Court and the current Almeida Theatre smash Chimerica, now playing to packed houses at the Harold Pinter Theatre. Pressed further, Ms Friedman added: ‘We’re in advanced discussions with Benedict Cumberbatch about playing Hamlet, and we’re at the stage of sorting out schedules concerning him and the director Lyndsey Turner. Key to those talks is West End theatre availability, or availability of a non-traditional theatre space to present the play.’

Cumberbatch is a hot property right now, and with good reason. His ability to deliver astute, decisive performances — demonstrated in the masterpiece that is Twelve Years A Slave, which I caught at the Telluride Film Festival; and in August: Osage County and The Fifth Estate, which I saw in Toronto — may bring him awards season attention.

Cumberbatch recently completed the third series of Sherlock, which BBC1 will broadcast next year. And he has just started filming The Imitation Game, in which he portrays tortured World War II computer genius Alan Turing, opposite Keira Knightley (so delightful in new movie Can A Song Save Your Life?).

To be, or not to be Hamlet? There seems no question that in a year’s time Cumberbatch will be uttering the sweet prince’s famous lines on a stage somewhere in London.

[From The Mail]

Well, good for him. He’s probably realizing a life-long acting goal and that’s always nice to see. I’m disappointed that he’ll be away from the cameras for so long – surely “Autumn 2014” would be a great time to film Season 4 of Sherlock, right? RIGHT? But I’m happy for him. *weeps along with Hiddleston*

Seriously, though, Cumby’s goal should have been playing Iago in Othello. Benedict would have been an AMAZING Iago. And with his naturally auburn hair, he would have made a fascinating Macbeth too. I would love to see him in The Taming of the Shrew as well!

Photos courtesy of The Guardian, WENN.

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128 Responses to “Benedict Cumberbatch to play ‘Hamlet’ on the London stage one year from now?”

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  1. T.fanty says:

    *snickers at the Hiddles Hamlet justification*

    It feels like a vanity project more than a smart casting decision. That said…


    (ETA, re: Shrew. *Volunteering for Katherine* I would sit on that man like he were a joint-stool

  2. Harpreet says:

    Whoa, that is a creepy pic of him, esp. the eyes.

  3. Abby says:

    Woahhhh does Cumby ever rest?? I feel his plate is too full, to the point it might be tiresome for him.

    Well I am glad though that he isn’t leaving theatre any time soon.

    • EscapedConvent says:

      I think he sleeps on airplanes, & probably gets some nice naps in airport lounges after too many drinks.

      It’s probably helping him right now to be hyper, because between jet lag & sleep deprivation, he should be out cold.

    • Green Girl says:

      I was thinking this, too. I think it’s great that he’s getting work. And in a career like acting, where you are basically a freelancer, work begets more work (and if you start turning down too many roles, people might start forgetting about you).

      But sheesh, he has a full plate, especially when you consider the Star Wars rumors just won’t stop.

  4. ncboudicca says:

    Ah, good thing I finally got off my butt and applied for a passport.

  5. Tish says:

    Oh, wow. I haven’t seen that bow tie photo of him. Yum!

    *imagines Cumby marrying a theatre director*

  6. strickchic says:

    Am I the only one who doesn’t find him attractive at all?

    • Side-Eye says:

      Yes. You are the only person in the entire world who doesn’t find him attractive. The only one.

      • EscapedConvent says:

        I was going to say the same. It appears to be the first time in recorded human history that six billion people have all thought the same person was attractive, minus the one.

      • T.Fanty says:

        *rushes off to call the Guinness Book of Records*

      • curlsunited says:


        @EscCon: Can I tempt you with a slice of apple strudel to make up for yesterday’s Black Forest gateau? Or some eau de vie de cerise, without the gateau?

      • T.Fanty says:

        Hey you. Stop trying to steal my nun. EsCon rides on MY Vespa.

      • curlsunited says:

        @TFanty: I ride a red racing bicycle and have been training at high altitude during much of the summer. Catch me if you can!

      • EscapedConvent says:

        @ Fanty & curlsunited,

        Ladies, ladies! Please don’t fight over me *bats eyelashes* yes please do fight over me….

        Drat! I missed this earlier! Computer freezing again. Curls, you may have sussed out that I’m a sweets-slut. & not just any old sweets, but things like black forest gateau, & the cerise brandy which is making my mouth water. Yes, of course to the apple strudel!

        You could leave me in a dungeon with a milk chocolate bunny rabbit for a year & the bunny will still be intact when you come back to let me out. Yes, even the ears.

        But tiramisu? I’ll just mention now that it would be unfair to mention tiramisu, even in jest. Fanty knows that I would leap off her Vespa in mid-gallop for Tiramisu.

        Fanty, this may be a good time to rope one of those yummy apple pies you’re baking to the Vespa.

      • curlsunited says:

        @EscCon: I envy you for your good taste sweetswise. Put me in a dungeon with your chocolate bunny rabbit and I will eat it, lick the wrapping and probably eat it as well. Sigh.

        You will like my strudel. I hate to overuse the immortal words of our Hamlet-to-be, but: it’s the real. My mother-in-law hails from the heart of the heart of strudel country and gave me the recipe. After years of trial and error (and far too many hours spent in the kitchen) my strudel is near to perfect.

        Come over to Curls Cottage with Fanty, I’m dying to see your infamous Vespa. We can have coffee and strudel and engage in discussing Shakespeare.

        Anyone else interested in joining our literary circle? There’s enough strudel for all of you.

      • curlsunited says:

        Erm, Mr. Cumberbatch, if you are following this thread (I wouldn’t be surprised): I know that you have a sweet tic tac tooth. You can drop by whenever you like, just drop me a line. I promise you: I’ll drive the sluts off my premises in no time.

      • Vesta says:

        Oh, there can’t possibly be delicious apfelstrudel left anymore (and I’m unfortunately not well versed in Shakespeare) so Curlsunited, your friendly invitation went past me. But I see you’re an admirably skillful pastry cook. I’m not that good, although I can make one course. I happen to be the grand master at making Banoffee Pies…(It’s a pity I don’t know anyone who especially loves those. But if there is someone, preferably a male one with auburn hair, please just contact me for a private tasting!)

      • curlsunited says:

        @Vesta: Darn it, you know all his interviews by heart!

      • Vesta says:

        Well, well…it takes one to know one, so Curly, how would you know that – unless it’s the pot calling the kettle black :)

      • EscapedConvent says:

        Damn it! How are we supposed to get Cumby to discuss his plans for Hamlet when there’s a Banoffee pie about?

        That is so devious of you, Vesta. Curls has knocked herself out on this massive apple strudel, & Fanty washed & waxed the Vespa herself because the hedgehogs get their little spikes stuck in the wax & are no help at all.

        All right then, have it your own way. I shall take off my wimple & let my wavy auburn strands drop daintily into that banofee pie. Ick.

      • curlsunited says:

        Quick! Cover the man in milk chocolate! I very much doubt that EscCon’s definition of discussing Hamlet with Cumby is the same as ours!

        Gosh, I’m knackered. Too much applestrudeling yesterday.

        @Vesta: Was it the interview for Harper’s Bazaar? Nice coat, shame on the answer to the question: What is your USP?

      • Vesta says:

        @EscCon – Is it you, Brother Benedict? I’ve been listening your excited vespers around here for quite some time now, and somehow I had this premonition that it isn’t the most conventional convent you escaped from. I knew I was forced to use some really dirty tricks in order to reveal your disguise. Sticky pies, they always do the job…

        @CurlU – Yes, it’s the Harper’s Bazaar one. With that swoonable coat. But I didn’t remember that “delightul” USP thing; thanks for bringing me back to reality, ha.

      • EscapedConvent says:

        @curls & Vesta:

        All right, you caught me. Curls, my dear, dipping Cumby in all-over milk chocolate would probably slow me down a little. In this case, I would probably have to start with his ears, so he could no longer be mistaken for that chocolate bunny.

        & Vesta, you’re scaring me a little! What gave me away?! I hope no one else has your powers of deduction. It’s true we are a strange little Convent. I am apprenticed to Brother Cadfael, & when I am not chained to my mortar & pestle (herbs, twigs, berries), I am usually herding the hedgehogs at Thornfield. My escaping is a bit on & off. Usually Fanty zips by on the Vespa to break me out of there. But then I get sentimental about my little cell & the Sisters’ rollicking games of Pin The Tail On Mother Superior, & I yearn to go back. The lifestyle is dizzying.

      • Vesta says:

        @EsCon – Yeah, your lifestyle must be dizzying, since it was the faint smell of Benedictine liqueur that revealed you. Now I know it’s you who sits by a mortar & pestle and prepares the spices for that famous drink. And takes test swigs with a drinking horn made of an unicorn. Oh, I just thank god Curls was here to warn me about your Hamlet-discussing methods with Cumby.

    • GeeMoney says:

      He may not be particularly good looking, but he is AWESOME. That’s what makes him hot in my book.

  7. Lamb says:

    How is it possible that there is a new Cumberbatch story EVERY SINGLE DAY?! Usually I just ignore them, but just knowing they are there annoys me. Is this guy really worth a post every single day?

    I am going to run and hide now since I will probably be attacked. Have at me.

  8. GeeMoney says:

    Love him! Now I have a good reason to take a trip to London next fall…

    • betsy says:

      I hope they film the production. The producer usually deals with big scale productions so hopefully it wont be staged at the Donmar.

      This is the production Cumberbatch has been talking with Gary Oldman to appear in. Imagine if he plays Claudius.

      Benedict is so well connection I can see this being quite a starry production but a very short run.

  9. TommyAnnE of the Cold and Lonely Forest says:

    Nooooooooooo!!! It’s not fair!

    *Weeps into apron embroidered in dragonflies*

  10. MissMary says:

    I love BC but he is too old for this. Polonius, Iago, Prospero…but a uni aged prince?

    • EscapedConvent says:

      Prospero! Give him a few decades.

    • Janey says:

      I’m not swooning about the idea of Cumby as Hamlet – the idea popped up on another thread and the consensus seemed to be that this idea wasn’t exciting, for a variety of reasons, but Cumby is about the right age to play the role. I know Hamlet is the “young prince of Denmark” but 36/37 is agreed as the right age to play the part, even thought Hamlet would be about 30. HOWEVER, in an early version of the play Hamlet was presented as being about 16, but the play was revised a bunch of times, giving us 30 year old Hamlet. *This post was sponsored by Tom Hiddleston.

      • Sixer says:

        That “sponsored” part just made me laugh out loud!

      • T.Fanty says:

        Second to the Hiddles part.

        Did you see the Tennant Hamlet? I just couldn’t get past the fact that he looked so damn old for it. Ken Branagh just about pulled it off. I’ve seen great actors fail at Hamlet (*side eye Jude Law and Toby Stephens*). Being a great actor doesn’t guarantee that he’ll be a great Hamlet.

      • Sixer says:

        No to Tennant.

        I’m a little bit worried too – but they all want to do it and if not now, then I guess never for Cumby.

      • Leah says:

        Well, interestingly, it seems the Batch would feel the age thing is appropriate, as the Guardian is quoting the Telegraph is quoting Cumberbatch (whew) as saying (ahem):

        “Rocketing to a new level of stardom by leading the BBC’s contemporary spin on the Sherlock Holmes stories, Cumberbatch has long hinted that he wanted a shot at Hamlet. Last year, he told the Telegraph: “I hope to return to theatre soon, hopefully as Hamlet, as it’s a role I’ve been interested in for a long time.” He contined: “I don’t know if there is such a thing as a right age to play the part, but 36 or 37 seems appropriate to me, so I need to do it before long.”

      • Janey says:

        Yeah, I saw Tennant’s Hamlet. Hamlet is a character I find it hard to empathise with, and having an actor who can’t quite leave his confidence and gravitas at the door just heightens the idea of Hamlet as a whiny, entitled, man-child. You need an actor who can portray all the grief and anger of the character and use that to make his actions understandable and logical, within the context of the play. As an aside, something that really grinds my gears and is possibly part of the problem with staging Hamlet – it’s never just Hamlet, it’s David Tennant’s Hamlet, Michael Sheen’s Hamlet and now, Cumby’s Hamlet – the part is a sop to actorly ego, and they can’t forget the fact that this is *their* iteration of a famous character, played by all the greats, so you get a performance that isn’t quite true to the character, but an excuse for a talented actor to deliver those soliloquies with a relish that doesn’t serve the play. Just play Hamlet, stop making it about you. I know actors are celebrated for making a part their own but the way these actors play Hamlet, it’s not about serving a piece of art, it’s about ego or trying to provide a definitive of the character.

      • T.fanty says:

        Yes to all of this. That’s exactly how I feel. And some actors have a very grounded, strong energy and a charisma, which is just who they are and is death to Hamlet. It isn’t a universal role that everyone can interpret differently. I mean you can try, but fail. Some of my favorite actors ever have made terrible Hamlets. He is not for all markets.

      • Lucrezia says:

        I agree with your basic point Janey (& T Fanty).

        But I have hopes for Cumby’s Hamlet, because most of his work is subtle rather than “actor-y”. Sherlock is a bad example of this, the character is supposed to be over the top. But think of Khan, or his character in Tinker Tailor. Either of those would’ve still worked if they’d been played a bit more “extra”, but Cumby chose to go subtle.

        I can’t think of a role where Cumby has gone too actor-y. The creepy dude in Atonement is probably closest, but it still falls just on the right side of “too much”.

        It’s not a guarantee that he’ll be able to subsume his ego in service of the play, but it makes me optimistic.

        (That said, I do think 37 is too old. The Hamlet in my head is mid-late twenties, and “young” for his age. Cumby puts out mature vibes.)

      • Sixer says:

        Speaking of suitable age and Shakespeare in more exaggerated terms, I am still cringing after reading the reviews of Mark Rylance’s OAP Much Ado.

    • MissMary says:

      Hamlet is so firmly in my head as mid 20s to maybe 30 at the outset thanks to all my professors in college hammering that in, I can’t take BC seriously as Hamlet. I say this now, when there’s no performance to judge, so I may likely eat my words next year when he does it. I just also feel that Hamlet is like “the thing to do”. I’d love to see these actors tackle Marlowe or even lesser “done” Shakespeare. But I get it–Hamlet is all about Hamlet. It’s not Hamlet and Polonius, or Hamlet and Ophelia.

      • Maureen says:

        I also see Hamlet as younger. He doesn’t have to be very young, but 38 (the age BC will be by Fall of next year) is way off the mark in my estimation. Ralph Fiennes was 33 when he did Hamlet (and, I think, won a Tony). But he was also quite youthful-looking through his 30′s, so that was a small advantage. I just don’t see a Hamlet of nearly 40 working out his daddy issues. I see that as something a younger man experiences. However, this doesn’t mean it CAN’T happen. If anyone can bring a new and fresh perspective to a classic role, it’s Benedict.

      • Janey says:

        Yep, yep, Fanty and Missmary – being a talented actor does not mean you will shine in every role, it’s not a reflection on an actor’s versatility or an excuse for typecasting, it’s just a thing that is (I feel as if there must be a great french or german word for that clumsy phrase but I don’t know it) There does seem to a be a need to play Hamlet – like you can’t be considered one of the greats if you don’t give your Hamlet. I don’t think Cumby will do a bad Hamlet, per se. I just think he could do a truly great Macbeth or Leontes, if he must play a Shakesperian protagonist.

    • betsy says:

      Prospero, Polonius. how old do you think he is 60!

  11. Alison says:

    He’s so beautiful and this is so exciting.

  12. Allijo says:

    And here’s the motivation I needed to get my international grad school applications submitted sooner than later. London 2014!!

    I’ll make sure to rent a flat big enough to house those on the CB field trip.

  13. Sephora Wilson says:

    Seriously Kaiser has already addressed this so called “issue” from complaining posters. Don’t click on Cumby post. There are alot of post on here and celebs who I don’t care for. I don’t go on their post to whine about their coverage. Simple don’t click.

    As to this story, this actually gives me an excuse to take a trip to London if true. I missed his last stage play. Hopefully I can get tickets….hopefully.

    • Maureen says:

      You know, I can remember when it seemed like there was a Real Housewives of (insert whatever), or a Kardashian, or a Lee Ann Rimes (sp?) post every single day when I visited (and I visit every single day) — all post subjects I loathe and have no personal interest in reading — but yet not one single time did I EVER click on one of those posts and complain about the posting. I can’t understand the point of doing that except to just be nasty.

      • Green Girl says:

        Agreed. It’s annoying when I want to discuss a certain celebrity, but have to wade through the posts saying “Why does anyone like this person?”

      • Grant says:

        I definitely saw (and still do see) posts from people complaining about coverage of all three of the subjects you mention.

      • Maureen says:

        @ Grant

        Maybe you misunderstood me. I said _I_ have personally never clicked on (those examples) posts I don’t like just so I could type up a complaint about how I don’t like them.

      • Sephora Wilson says:

        I honestly think the majority of people complaining are mad that this unlikely heartthrob is all over the blogs and has a really big fan base. He is getting parts in hollywood, leading parts and they can’t stand the fact that because they think he is ugly that he shouldn’t get this much attention from anyone. If this was one of their favorite actors I bet you wouldn’t hear any whining at all. It would be an all out slut fest on here. Let those who enjoy following his career follow it. And if not a fan then don’t bother. Never understood people like that.

  14. Maureen says:

    Re: Benedict/Hamlet: I just hope he doesn’t pull a Ralph Fiennes and run off with his “mother”/Gertrude.

    • EscapedConvent says:

      Rlph Fiennes & Francesca Annis were lovely together.

      • Maureen says:

        So were Ralph and his WIFE.

      • Virgilia Coriolanus says:

        I read about that years ago. I think he and Alex Kingston were clearly people who shouldn’t have gotten married. From what I understood, they were together for years–but only got married because he wanted his mother to see him married–she died a short while later of cancer.

        I’m not excusing him, because it was a douche thing to do–he cheated on his wife with Francesca, then I think he cheated on Francesca with that flight attendant (which was soo gross–sex in an airplane bathroom? Eww….that’s only a step up from Butler and his porta potty randoms), and I haven’t heard anything about a girlfriend since Francesca….

        But I think they would’ve broken up eventually because he’s made it clear he doesn’t want kids, and she (with her husband) spent years doing Invitro–I think they eventually just adopted.

        But I think he should’ve been a grown up and not married her, if he didn’t want to be a husband/father.

      • Maureen says:

        Alex didn’t adopt. She was pregnant, but yes she did IVF and she had tried with Ralph as well (wrong again!). But I can’t see the logic in “they shouldn’t have gotten married”. So what if they hadn’t gotten married? Would the cheating have been less worse?? They had been living together for 10 years. And it wasn’t just that he cheated, either. According to Alex’s own words, he showed up to the set where she was filming Moll Flanders and “all bright and breezy, and informed me that he was in love with Francesca.” That’s a dirtbag right there. I’m glad that man never had children.

  15. Green Girl says:

    Let’s talk hair! Do you think he will have to color his hair for this role? I was actually thinking it might be interesting with a buzz cut.

    • Maureen says:

      I think he looks more handsome when his hair is shaggier and falls over his forehead. It gives his face the illusion of not being as long as it actually is, and therefore, brings some balance to his face over-all. And I think a shaggy, unkempt, dirty look would be good for Hamlet. I think there are other ways he can do longer hair that won’t make him look like Sherlock. And for Hamlet, I think he should be blonde. Or throw us all a bone and do it with his 100% natural hair color.

  16. icerose says:

    Benedict as Hamlet will be interesting-probably a very buttoned up, repressed Hamlet all pride and snark. It will be his first West End Shakespeare as a lead. Ben Wishaw played Hamlet straight out of RADA and had rave reviews. He was one of the youngest to have ever played him at the time. I was hoping Tom might do Hamlet but on reflection it was to close to the whole daddy issue scenario and Coriolanus offers a lot of opportunities for a gritty performance. The National might broadcast it they seem to be spreading there circle a bit wider as with the Donmar and Coriolanus. I wish they had done that with McAvoy’s Macbeth.

  17. Leah says:

    Also- completely ridiculous question, but…

    Just noticed that in the pics for this post, Cumby seems to be sporting vary degrees of a “furrowed brow.”

    Is this another go-to Cumby photo-shoot/pic pose? Show the hands, furrow the brow… break out the smolder.

    • EscapedConvent says:

      Not ridiculous at all! Someone may have told him that his Bitches want to pet his wrinkled forehead. (Or maybe just this one Bitch does.)

      I absolutely adore his furrowed brow. It has given me a wrinkle fetish—a first for me.

    • Vesta says:

      I didn’t notice this before; I think you’re right. I had to go and check some resent pics too, and it’s been quite frequent pose lately. Maybe it’s just due to the weightier subjects of his late films? The Concerned Cumby. Or is it The Angry Bunny Benny…

  18. Linda L says:

    Yay! Benedict as Hamlet!
    He’ll do a marvelous job, as he does with everything.

  19. Helena says:

    If Benedict plays Hamlet he’s going to knock peoples’socks off.It’s my favourite Shakespearean play.Going to re read it.