The recently engaged Sherlock star has made numerous appearances on “most eligible bachelor” lists and was recently voted the No. 1 Sexiest Movie Star by Empire Online. It seems that his fans (or Cumberbitches as they’re sometimes known), can’t get enough of him. If you’re one of them, you’ll be happy to discover that the actor is as interesting in his personal life as the characters he plays on screen.
Here are 10 things you might not know about Benedict Cumberbatch:
1. After graduating from the £30,000-a-year Harrow School, he took a gap year volunteering as an English teacher at a Tibetan monastery in Darjeeling, India. Prior to starting his trip, he worked in Penhaligon’s perfumery for five months to raise funds for the venture.
2. He was a victim of a carjacking in South Africa in 2005, while filming To the Ends of the Earth. Cumberbatch and two other actors were attempting to change a flat tire when they were attacked by six armed men. They were tied up and driven to a remote location where they were lined up in the execution position and had a duvet put over their heads to muffle the sound of gunshots. After being left lying on the ground for several hours, they heard the men leaving and were able to run for help.
3. His eyes are actually different colours. A condition called heterochromia causes each iris to be a different combination of blue, green and gold.
4. In 2013 he was a victim of cyberstalking – a neighbour live-tweeted his movements while he was inside his own home. After discovering the Twitter account, Cumberbatch considered calling the police but instead did a bit of his own detective work to discover and confront the culprit.
5. In an unfortunate twist of fate, the 12 Years a Slave star’s family are actually descendants of slave-owners on a sugar plantation in Barbados. Benedict’s family worried that this might make him a target and originally suggested he use another name professionally – he originally worked under the name Benedict Carlton. However, not all his ancestors have such a morally dubious history – his great-grandfather, who was the British Consul General of Turkey in 1872, made several reports to the Foreign Office complaining about the slave trade in the area at the time.
6. As a baby, his half-sister took him to the roof of their Kensington flat in his pram in the middle of winter to try and stop him crying as he would usually become calm after being left to look at the sky. She forgot about him and he almost died of hypothermia.
7. He’s a bit of an adrenaline junkie – Benedict enjoys jumping out of planes for a spot of sky diving, high-speed motorcycle racing and viewing the world from a hot air balloon.
8. While on the set of Star Trek Into Darkness, his prankster co-star Simon Pegg, told him that he needed to wear protective clothing and “neutron cream” on his face, while jumping up and down, to protect him against radiation while filming in a high-tech laboratory. The star continued the preparations in all seriousness, with dots of moisturiser on his face, while the rest of the cast collapsed in laughter.
9. He lost a large amount of weight to play the character Sherlock Holmes as he believed the intellectual character would manifest as “mind-over-matter”. He also put on a lot of weight for his role as the Star Trek Into Darkness villain, John Harrison, eating up to 4,000 calories a day.
10. As well as acting, Cumberbatch has lent his voice to several audiobook recordings. You can hear him reading Sherlock Holmes: The Rediscovered Railway Mysteries and Other Stories (of course), several books by Ngaio Marsh, Shakespeare’s The Tempest and Blake’s 7 The Early Years by Simon Guerrier.