Benedict Cumberbatch sick of being typecast as ‘asexual, sociopathic intellectuals’

Come, all ye Cumberbitches, for I have a new interview with your icon of strange, unsettling beauty. Benedict Cumberbatch has a new interview with the Radio Times (via The Mail) to support the new season of Sherlock, the modernized Sherlock Holmes series done by the BBC. To the delight of this Cumberbitch, Benedict discusses how he’s so deliciously posh and how he’s often typecast as a “slightly asexual, sociopathic intellectual.” OH CUMBERBATCH. I love you.

Being posh doesn’t seem to have done his career much harm so far. But Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch has complained that his privileged background and elite schooling have left him typecast. The 35-year-old actor grew up in Kensington, West London, and was educated at Harrow – where fees are £30,930 a year – before studying drama at Manchester University.

As a consequence, he claims he suffers from ‘class-typing’ in his career. Cumberbatch, who also starred in this year’s film version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, said: ‘I was brought up in a world of privilege. It can ostracise you from normal codes of conduct in society. Being a posh actor in England you cannot escape the class-typing from whatever side you look at it. I realised from quite early on that, although I wasn’t trying to make a class specialty of it, I was playing slightly asexual, sociopathic intellectuals.’

He added that the fact that he went to one of the oldest schools in the world ‘does not make me an archetypal product of that school’.

Cumberbatch told Radio Times: ‘We all want to escape our circumstances, don’t we? Especially if you are an actor. It is an imaginative process that gets my juices going. The further you get away from yourself, the more challenging it is. Not to be in your comfort zone is great fun.’

The actor has won plaudits for his portrayal of a brilliant but emotionally dysfunctional Sherlock Holmes in the BBC1 series, which returns in January. Earlier this year he starred as Stephen Hawking in the award-winning BBC2 biopic about the acclaimed scientist, and as spook Peter Guillam in the updated film adaptation of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

He has also played ‘toff roles’ such as Scarlett Johansson’s unbearably pompous husband in The Other Boleyn Girl, and the arrogant Edmund Talbot in the BBC adaptation of William Golding’s epic To The Ends of the Earth.

He will soon be back on the big screen as Major Jamie Stewart in Stephen Spielberg’s Hollywood version of the West End theatre hit War Horse, which is released in January.

In the past Cumberbatch has said his parents – the actors Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton – sent him to Harrow in the hope that he might not follow in their professional footsteps.

[From The Mail]

Sigh… the Brits love their caste system, don’t they? Sure, we have a class system in America too, but I don’t feel like ours is as pronounced and die-hard as the British system. Americans believe that you can be born into poverty and you can work your way up to the upper echelons of society, and that’s an admirable thing. When that happens with an Englishman, they get publicly mocked in the tabloids for thinking they‘re above their station. As for Benedict being typecast – I personally think it’s his voice. He’s got that gorgeous, rich voice that just reeks of old money and privilege and education. It’s certainly not the worst thing. When you think about it, an American actor like Laura Linney has the same problem – whenever she plays working-class, I find it hard to believe. She just seems too educated and refined. Benedict and Laura should do a movie together. They’ll play a rich couple who do horrible things in beautiful places. Hmm….

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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56 Responses to “Benedict Cumberbatch sick of being typecast as ‘asexual, sociopathic intellectuals’”

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  1. brin says:

    Interesting that his parents are actors and wanted something “better” for him. Sorry, old bean, looks like you’ll have to keep a stiff upper lip and carry on.

  2. GoodCapon says:

    Cripes, that second picture! Scary much?

    Is Sherlock any good? I don’t watch it and I’ve only managed to catch 15 minutes of it a long time ago. 15 minutes is not much to form an opinion on…

    • Dorothy#1 says:

      It is super good!

    • LeaR says:

      It’s really very good. Start with the first episode of the first season (the 2nd episode is okay, but it’s not written by the showrunners, and it shows)

      And they definitely film & light Benedict very flatteringly, so you don’t get any shots like that 2nd picture.

      • birdie says:

        The first episode was my favorite and I hated the second one!! Now I know why, thanks for the information.

    • Tapioca says:

      Sherlock is fab, Benedict Cumberbatch is very good in it and it’s a very different kettle of fish to the RDJ & Jude Law adaptation so you can easily enjoy both.

      On the subject of which, Guy Richie is, if anything, even posher than BC – his mother is minor aristocracy – so all Mr. Cumberbatch need do is affect a mockney accent and start pretending to have been an ex-builder grafting his way up the ladder and, voila, instant working-class street cred!

      (Or not, obviously…)

      • gg says:

        I agree. His posh accent will bar anybody imagining him for a rough sexy part. The blonde do he’s sporting right now is not doing the trick. Also his face sorta looks like he’s got something spiky shoved up his butt. Maybe smile more and get the mockney goin.

    • grabbyhands says:

      Sherlock is totes worth it. It’s a great show and he (and Martin Freeman!)is hot in it. He looks a tad washed out here.

    • Anne says:

      It’s wonderful. I recommend it to all my friends. You should definitely watch it.

      Fair warning though, I thought the portrayal of Prof. Moriarty was quite strange, and the first episode was definitely the best of the bunch. But watch it!

  3. Blah says:

    He is incredibly painful to look at.

    I mean… That face is anything but handsome and good looking!

  4. Agnes says:

    Yeah, awkward-looking to say the least. like he’d be a natural for Star Trek.

    And oh please, cry me a river right into your pile of money. Haha.

  5. LeaR says:

    Actually, I don’t think it’s his voice that’s the problem – his problem is his face. I love him, and think he’s extraordinary-looking, but he’s not handsome in the conventional way that appeals to casting directors looking to cast a leading man who’s not a posh, asexual intellectual.

    Many of his talented contemporaries have managed to break out into mainstream stardom, and create the kind of dream career where they can dip between quality blockbusters and more indie fare – Michael Fassbender, Tom Hardy, James McEvoy, Ewan McGregor, etc. have not been typecast in the same way. They’ve all played a wide range of social classes & personality types. Not coincidentally, they are also all conventionally handsome. As are older actors like Ralph Fiennes or Daniel Day-Lewis – their undeniable poshness has not prevented them from playing a wide range of parts.

    Looks matter somewhat less for male actors (a female version of Cumberbatch wouldn’t have a career, and she certainly wouldn’t have a significant male fanbase), but they do matter. And outside of Cumberbitch strongholds, people’s reactions to his looks are decidedly mixed.

    Casting directors are not in the habit of taking big risks & casting against type unless the actor in question is already a star. I really can’t imagine one of them suggesting Cumberbatch be contacted about auditioning for a role like Jonny Lee Miller’s in Trainspotting, Tom Hardy in Bronson, or Fassbender in Shame or Fishtank.

    (Of course, this is assuming that Cumberbatch could have handled those parts – since he has been typecast, we don’t actually know how versatile he really is. I can’t overlook the possibility that he has auditioned for parts like this & been found lacking)

    • Victoria says:

      Yeah but then how do you explain Sarah Jessica Parker? Or Ryan Reynolds. Both are fugly asses but they did make it. I mean, it CAN happen although like you say, it rarely does?

      • LeaR says:

        The main source of SJP’s stardom is a TV show. The same is true of Cumberbatch. If BC is happy with mainly being a TV star, then yes, he’ll be okay. I mean, by that standard, he’s already made it. But he obviously, like most TV actors, really wants an A-list film career.

        For Cumberbatch’s sake, I hope he doesn’t have SJP’s film career trajectory. Her career outside of SATC is not impressive, she played only a few leading roles in (mostly mediocre) films, and even fewer parts that remotely approach the quality & prestige that characterizes the types of parts played by the actors I mentioned above.

        As far as Ryan goes – most people don’t think he’s fugly. Or to put it another way, unlike Cumberbatch, his posts don’t consist of one commenter after another talking about about how freaky/scary/weird/awkward he looks.

      • Jazz Fab says:

        actually, Sarah Jessica Parker has been acting since she was a kid – even starring as Annie in “Annie” the musical on Broadway back in 1980 and other leading roles on Broadway. It was her Broadway career that helped her break out into films and TV. She’s also acted in other movies before ‘Sex and the City’ came along.

    • viv says:

      LOL. sex and the city is the only reason 99% of the world knows who Sarah is. Not Annie or broadway or any other crappy movie she did.

      • blouson says:

        I knew who SJP was when I was 10 because of all the Disney movies like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” or some other title she was in. I loved her. She was extremely likeable and always played the pretty girls’ kooky friend.

  6. Erinn says:

    He’s not awful looking in the second last picture… but there’s something unsettling around his brow bone and eye area. A bit creepy.

  7. atlantapug says:

    That second picture is nightmare inducing. What’s up with his nostril? A his eye look slightly down-syndrome.
    anyway, poor poor rich privileged actor type. (Tears flowing )

  8. Franny says:

    If he were to have darker hair and darker eyebrows in the 2nd to last picture, he could totally play the brother to Jon Hamm. Maybe its the stance and closed mouth grinned that makes me think that but either way…hot

  9. grabbyhands says:

    I will fully support him in his desire to avoid typecasting. I suggest roles with LOTS of nudity. Movies with him just reading books and other things in the nude. I will watch every single one.

  10. Smith says:

    Well those pant legs in the last photo make it look like he’s shrinking before our very eyes. That is talent.

    Maybe he’s simply really tired of being typecast as “TALL, asexual, sociopath, etc., etc.”

    You see both his parents are tailors and when he was growing up all his pants fit perfectly. “I was brought up in a world of privilage. Perfect pants and crumpets were the order of day,” says a clearly distressed Cumberbatch.

    “In England it’s so difficult to break out and wear your pants longer or with a maxi leg or super-thick double-cuff. In America actors are allowed to really be free with their pants. I saw Tom Cruise wear a pair of capris and no one uttered a word. In England, one would be ostracized. It’s murderous BUT by speaking out about the problem, by being brave and working in a somewhat unexpected pant look here and there, I feel we are on the road to victory.”

    “I hope that in the future Former Posh Pants Wearers, or FPPWs as they are dubbed, will look back and be grateful that I endured these early, dark days.”

  11. JuliaDomna says:

    But he looks like an asexual, sociopathic intellectual. Shake what your momma gave ya, sir.

    • bluhare says:

      Bingo!! I was just thinking that if he doesn’t want to be typecast that way, quit looking like it!!

  12. gg says:

    I have to admit – the first time I saw his name on the credits, I thought, OH THE POOR GUY! With a name like that stuck up your but, you’re probably going to at least seem like you’ve got permanent constipation.

  13. L says:

    I thought he was pretty good in War Horse. But yea-I guess he was a posh officer.

  14. Victoria says:

    Okay, as I said in another post, I recently retracted my statement about the Cumberbatche’s Anglo-fugliness after hearing and seeing him on Johnathan Ross.

    The man looks so much better in motion and his voice is sex on a stick. I just wanna mess up his cumber-bun and untie his shoe lace or something and get sexy with him.

    He just doesn’t photograph well all the time which I completely understand and can relate to.

    • birdie says:

      THIS! You need to watch an interview or watch his movies to fully unterstand his beauty! Go to the tumblrs about him and you will see how girls worship him.

      • Victoria says:

        ITA! I did check out Cumberland (Tumblr) and those girls are no joke. They take crushing to a whole other level.

        I have decided to be a Cumberbitch, completely on the JR interview alone, but am downloading Sherlock Holmes as we speak.

        I need to see this man in a sex scene (purely for observational and educational purposes of course) so I can decide whether or not he’s what I imagine in my mind.

        He probably is very kinky. Not Klueless Karashian kinky that involves urine, but like maybe a unbuckled belt taken from his pants and used as a whip kind of kinky.

    • grabbyhands says:

      I was just trying to explain him to someone this afternoon and I said the same thing-watch Sherlock-you have to see him in action and then the light bulb will go on. And that voice-sweet baby jesus.The voice.

      Also, I need a cold shower after thinking about him and his possible kinks.

  15. ladybert62 says:

    I think he is incredibly strange looking – perhaps his voice will save the day (hey, it worked for Cleopatra!)

    Have never seen him or even heard of the show – sounds interesting – probably better than the Guy Ritchie version of Sherlock as an action man (ridiculous).

  16. Nutter Butter says:

    I can’t see it as anything BUT asexual….because I couldn’t imagine having sex with that.

  17. Coucou says:

    He looks like the somewhat cuter cousin of the walking French twin freakshow, Igor and Grichka Bogdanoff.

  18. Incredulous says:

    Great dress in the last picture and I don’t normally notice that stuff.

  19. Jules says:

    He is rather unfortunate looking…definitely conveys the gay/asexual, uptight, aristocratic conceited douchebag qualities.

    My first reaction was “Eeww”.

  20. Lila says:

    He may be typecast as asexual, but that man brings the sexy in spades! Especially when he;s rocking darker hair.

    Thanks for another Cumberbatch story,Kaiser!

  21. Anna says:

    LOOL I cannot get past “come all ye Cumberbitches” I don’t think it gets better than that. Superb writing

  22. Lady Lupton says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for a Cumberbatch story.

  23. Melissa says:

    I’ve heard that gingers get treated differently in England. Not sure if he’s actually considered a ginger, but maybe that’s why he’s getting the “crazy” roles. They left out that he played that statutory rapist in “Atonement” in the article. He was really creepy in that role.

  24. Booboocita says:

    To get the full appeal, go to YouTube and search for him by name. You’ll see a variety of clips of him on British TV talk shows as a guest. He’s very intelligent and utterly charming, and his face in motion is riveting — nothing like the stills. He does an impression of Alan Rickman that’s simply hilarious, and spot-on.

  25. anotherrandom says:

    I can’t believe no one’s commented on it yet, but I totally see Dennis Quaid as Jerry Lee Lewis in most of these pictures.

  26. lu says:

    Oh poor little posh (rich) boy. Most English actors who make it big in Hollywood speak like him. He’s just too ugly to do well in other roles.

    The majority of English people don’t speak like these actors, yet they are the only ones who make it, or pay their way in. I can’t stand the posh ones, others are much more “real” yet never get a chance.

  27. birdie says:

    Please keep posting about him! I am sure he will be big in Hollywood!

  28. jayem says:

    I’m sure he’s a very nice person, but he is *so* weird looking. That’s why he gets “typecast” that way. LeaR made a good point; Perhaps he auditions for those roles and doesn’t get them.

    Also, it appears as though neither of his parents’s last name is Cumberbatch. Where in the heck did that come from? He CHOSE it??

    • Mi says:

      His fathers full name is Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch but he uses Timothy Carlton as his working name. So yeah, Benedict Cumberbatch is his real name. He used Ben Carlton when he started acting but then he got the suggestion to use his real name since it would help him stand out a little bit more.

      • jayem says:

        Thanks! That makes sense. Although I know actors pick memorable names to stand out, that one is a bit of a mouthful!

  29. SueAnn says:

    That is what Kris Jenner will look like in 15 years