Benedict Cumberbatch in his ‘Smaug’ motion-capture suit: would you hit it?


I don’t know why it’s taken us two weeks to get these photos (???), but here are some photos of Benedict Cumberbatch at the ‘Sherlock Convention’ in England a few weeks ago. I linked to some photos at the time, but we suddenly got access to them this weekend, so YAY. New Cumby photos. Newish, at least. The Daily Mail also had some truly new photos of Cumby arriving at Heathrow on Friday after spending about two weeks in NYC. Cumby was wearing a cap and his glasses and he looked like I felt this weekend – pale and sick (I had that lingering sinus infection/bug that’s been going around and now I wonder if Cumby had it too).

Over the weekend, The Hobbit’s technical team released a short video showing how they created Smaug the dragon, and there is just a touch of Benedict in his motion-capture outfit, on his stomach, pretending to be an angry dragon. It’s pretty awesome.

Personally, I would rather watch two hours of Benedict in the mo-cap suit pretending to be a dragon rather than watch The Desolation of Smaug. Reportedly, Benedict did go above and beyond for Smaug though – he strained his voice trying to get the dragon’s voice right and he spent a lot of time doing mo-cap (even though Peter Jackson later admitted that they didn’t use much of Benedict’s motion for the dragon).

PS… His hair looks great in these photos, right? It’s like the Cumbercurls are trying to break free! But I could do without the gum in his mouth. Still, it’s nice to see that he has a great, oversized shawl-collar jumper. Also: some hand-p0rn, of course. He seriously has the prettiest hands.

PPS… He will be at the Oscars! He’s going to present. OH YES.




Photos courtesy of WENN.

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86 Responses to “Benedict Cumberbatch in his ‘Smaug’ motion-capture suit: would you hit it?”

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  1. LadySlippers says:

    Kaiser found some Cumberbatch to halt her Cumberwithdrawal.

    You know admitting you have a problem Kaiser, is the first step to recovery.


  2. LadyMTL says:

    I’m not a Cumberfan and probably never will be, but he was great as Smaug. He was creepy and frightening and awe-inspiring and all of those things…shall we call him Cumbersmaug? LOL.

  3. Matty says:

    I really dig the auburn hair. And the wool pullover. I need a similar one in my life.

  4. Dani says:

    Love him and his curls but he could use a whitening. His teeth seem really…yellow?…in these pictures. I don’t even mean it as shade, it’s just the first thing I noticed.

  5. Patricia says:

    He seems so sweet and genuine. I recently watched all of Sherlock in a week of binges with my hubby lol. We loved it. We loved him.
    BUT when I told my husband that so many women think Cumby is sexy he laughed and laughed. I agree, the only sexy thing about him, to me, is his voice. I think he looks like a lizard alien.

    ETA: now that I’ve seen the otter thing I can’t unsee it. These pics are a prime example!

  6. Mia4S says:

    He’s been announced as an Oscar presenter (invited and accepted). Oscar tux Cumby coming soon!

  7. Green Eggs & Ham says:

    I love to see him being interviewed: he is a good listener and thinks before he speaks. Looks like he’ll be a great for having a conversation. Pure artist and wonderful actor.

  8. Blannie says:

    Has he got a big ole wad of gum in his mouth in that one pic? That would surprise me!

  9. Algernon says:

    “he spent a lot of time doing mo-cap (even though Peter Jackson later admitted that they didn’t use much of Benedict’s motion for the dragon”

    Because motion capture is the most overrated thing happening in filmmaking right now. It’s an enormous waste of time, money and effort, and 98% of illustrators and animators hate having to use it. And worse, over the last couple of years the visual effects community has realized that sticking a GoPro in the booth with the voice actor and recording gestures and facial expressions is just as effective as doing the whole ping-pong-ball suit routine, at like 1/1000th of the cost. But because a couple of high-profile directors feel like they invented mo-cap, it refuses to die.

    • LadySlippers says:

      What’s a ‘GoPro’?

      Interesting comments but to be 100% honest I don’t know enough about the subject to say anything at all. Sorry. I do however, tuck nuggets like this into a cubby hole and when I stumble across more info, take it out then.

      • Algernon says:

        GoPro is a little digital camera that you can stick on anything, like a helmet or a car dash (like in all those Russian vehicle cam videos on YouTube). They’re relatively inexpensive; you can find them at Best Buy.

        Mo-cap is ridiculously expensive and more and more, the actual technicians who do the CG work find that 98% of the recorded data is ultimately useless. I’ve heard of animators not even opening data files from mo-cap sessions because they know it won’t be relevant to what they need. Tens of millions of dollars go into it and no one is even looking at the references. So the next time someone says Andy Serkis deserves an Oscar for jumping around in a ping-pong-ball suit, just remember that 98% of what he did never even got coded into the CG character.

      • LadySlippers says:

        Thank you so much for answering!

        And seriously? Dayum. Both Andy and Benedict have mentioned physically hurting themselves for mo-cap and then that performance might not even be fully utilised. Quite a shame.

    • Maggie says:

      This WETA video and article shows how they used the mo-cap for Smaug.

      oops just realised that this video is the same one featured in the article.

      The following might work and shows a different perspective.

    • Maggie says:

      @ Algernon
      Do you have some links about this because I would like to read them. I cannot believe, from what I have seen and read that Andy Serkis’ movements were not fully utilised in LOTR and The Hobbit.

      • Algernon says:

        It comes from working with VFX people in my real life job. They pretty much hate mo-cap because it’s a waste of time and then the actor goes out and says they deserve an Oscar when really, any CG character takes dozens of people from illustrators to animators to sound engineers to create. The actor in the suit is just one more cog in the wheel. VFX artisans already get a crappy deal in the film industry and people (like Serkis, he’s the worst about this) giving the actors all the credit for a mo-cap “performance” only makes it worse. They’re just one more step to getting the character created, and in no way is the mo-cap reference the most important part.

        It isn’t without it’s uses but the thing about mo-cap is that past a certain threshold, all movement reads the same once it’s broken down to lines of code. The techs really only need basic movement references like walking, sitting, running, opening and closing hands, etc. So they get a data file that encompasses the actor’s day’s work in suit, but all they need is the first couple minutes of movement and then they’re done. You could get exactly the same results if the actor spent one day on a mo-cap stage, just walking from point a to b, then sitting, then standing, then wiggling his hand. You don’t need six months of “acting” in a ping-pong-ball suit.

        So yeah, they used Serkis’s movements but once they had him crawling around once, they didn’t need it again and again and again. Yet he insists on doing it again and again and again. And then acting like there aren’t dozens of people bringing Gollum to life. He’s a very good voice over actor but the rest of it is just, take it or leave it.

      • mena says:

        A friend of mine said something similar – that CGI animation no longer relies on mo-cap like they used to.

        Her friend is a Production Manager for a gaming company. The PM told her that over the years they’ve accumulated such a large library of reference material that they don’t need to do mo-cap anymore.

        If they’re working with a pro athlete, they’ll scan their face to get it exactly right, but that’s it.

        She said it’s the pro athlete who really wants to do the mo-cap and the gaming company will sometimes play along, just to keep the athlete happy.

        And bear in mind, my friend told me this years ago, back when people were going on & on about Andy Serkis’ work on King Kong. I’m sure the technology has gotten even more advanced since then, making mo-cap even less necessary.

  10. Miss Scarlet says:

    The adorkableness of these pics is killing me.

  11. Chrissy says:

    Here’s hoping the gum is one of those anti-smoking aids!

  12. Lolo-ology says:

    I just laughed so hard seeing that short glimpse of Cumby crawling around on the floor in the mo-cap suit. Probably cause in my mind I saw the headline, “would you hit it” captioned over it. XD

  13. Maureen says:

    I’m basically ready to say that I think he’s def had something done on his face while he was in NY. I’m not saying surgery or even ‘Tox, no no.. Well, maybe some ‘Tox? I think maybe just some hardcore skin care — maybe some peels or something. I don’t know. He’s way too smooth and a bit plumped out (in a youthful way) considering how drawn and tired he was looking for months. Plus, he’s a smoker. Sorry, smokers, but you don’t fool me. Nicotine breaks down collagen in your cheeks which is why long-term smokers look drawn and sagging before non-smokers do. You can’t just plump up magically because you got a facial and a few days of extra rest. He’s had some help, but there are lots of really good non-invasive treatments that can help with temporary collagen replacement, so I’m not saying he’s had injections. I generally don’t believe he’s into that sort of thing … but then again, but his admittance he has a hard time saying no to people. And that whole industry — skincare and whatnot — are filled with masters of manipulation who can get clients to do things they swore they never would.

  14. Shantal says:

    I will never understand the appeal of this hideous creature.

  15. ItSetsYou says:

    Not even 60 comments?! Duh!

    When are we going to see another post about Hiddleston and have a lovely, tremendous discussion? I miss it.

    • LadySlippers says:

      Often BC’s posts get just as informative as TH’s post. This one didn’t lend itself to it; likewise you’ll see some of TH’s post that didn’t get very informative either. It’s kinda luck and if there’s anything within the post to chatty about.

      Regardless of whether it’s BC or TH (or anyone else) I love the lively discussions!

  16. Lilacflowers says:

    Would I hit it? No. More of him for the rest of you to enjoy.

  17. pru says:

    Would, despite the awful mo-cap suit. I know what’s going on underneath.

  18. ScotiaNov says:

    He has such a goofy face. I don’t get his sex appeal at all. He does nothing for me. He’s kinda cute, but that’s it.

    So no, I wouldn’t “hit it”.

  19. Maggie says:

    Would I hit it? Not in a million years!