What makes up the winning formula that is Benedict Cumberbatch? That’s the question many an actor is surely pondering as the star of Sherlock continues his meteoric ascent through the ranks of Hollywood. There are a number of obvious factors that come into play – his interesting choice of roles, posh accent, those cheekbones – but then there are those extra special qualities that account for his particularly ardent army of supporters: those impressions of Alan Rickman, his bromance with co-star Martin Freeman, that name we just want to say over and over again. Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch. Cumberbatch… Ahem.
But, dare we say it, Cumberbatch’s star quality isn’t entirely unique – and there are a fair few young (and not-so-young) Brits snapping at his successful heels. So we thought we’d give them some attention – here are the actors we think have what it takes to “do a Cumberbatch”…
1. Tom Hiddleston
We could spend all day listing the reasons why Tom Hiddleston is awesome. Posh voice? Check. Cheekbones? Check. Terrific impression of Alan Rickman? Check. The 32-year-old is brainy too – he achieved a double first in classics at Cambridge – and is a star of the stage as well as the screen (he won an Olivier Award back in 2008 for his part in Cymbeline). And the man’s got rhythm, as demonstrated by the recent viral video of his dance performance on a South Korean talk show. All reasons he’s poised to earn a fan following worthy of the Batch.
2. Ben Whishaw
Like Cumberbatch, Ben Whishaw has been a bonafide star of the stage and screen ever since he first burst onto the London stage as Hamlet back in 2004 – and he’s no stranger to rave reviews. Nowadays he splits his time between the two, using his quirky looks to take on everything from a murderous perfumier to Richard II. He’s got that posh, articulate Brit thing going for him – a trait that no doubt helped when the Bond casting agents were on the lookout for a new Q. That role, plus a part in last year’s Cloud Atlas, made sure American audiences knew exactly who he was. And check out that hair – very Sherlock, eh?
3. Cillian Murphy
The man with cheekbones sharper than a Peaky Blinders razor blade was recently rumoured to be in the running to play kinky Christian Grey. It would have been an unfortunate move for an actor who has so far carved an interesting niche for himself as the go-to guy for troubled baddies. Judging by a formidable CV that includes work under Danny Boyle, Ken Loach and Christopher Nolan, Cillian’s name should be aligned among the Hollywood A-list but he famously shuns publicity, giving rare interviews with a cast iron rule never to discuss his private life. Moody and mysterious never did a celebrity any harm.
4. Robert Sheehan
This image of young Robert Sheehan bears more than a little resemblance to Cumberbatch’s look in his recent short film Little Favour. White vest: tick. Moody stare: tick. The 25-year-old actor may be a few years shy of Cumberbatch but he has already enjoyed a successful career this side of the pond, picking up a Bafta win and nomination for his portrayal of Nathan Young in sci-fi dramedy, Misfits, plus a role in Irish crime series Love/Hate. But 2013 was the year he became a film star, with his instrumental (see what we did there?) role pining after Lily Collins in the first Mortal Instruments film, City of Bones. Oh, and he’s got an Irish accent. Seriously, what’s not to like?
5. Mathew Baynton
Not many people knew who Mathew Baynton was before he burst onto our screens this autumn as one half of The Wrong Mans. But while his famous co-star and co-writer, James Corden, played hapless Phil, it was Baynton’s Bracknell council worker, Sam, who took the lead in the comedy drama which has since bagged itself a second series. Eagle-eyed Gavin & Stacey fans will recognise him from his days playing dim-witted Deano, but more recently he’s horsed around on Horrible Histories and is the brains and star power behind cracking new Sky comedy Yonderland. He’s smart, stagey, and kinda chiselled – it’s only a matter of time until Hollywood snaps him up…
6. Asa Butterfield
Young Asa may still look about ten years old, but there’s already something of the Batch about him. To start with he’s got a delicious name. “Asa Butterfield”. It reminds us of buttercups, baby lambs and rolling meadows in the height of spring. Then there’s the eyes (piercing blue peepers, of course), AND he’s pally with his Enders Game co-star Harrison Ford (did you see Cumberbatch’s look of delight when he bonded with his Star Wars legend on Graham Norton?) Plus, 16-year-old Asa has plenty of acting talent and a stellar CV for his tender years, including lead roles in Holocaust film The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas and Martin Scorcese’s Hugo. Anyone else feeling like a massive under-achiever?
7. Aneurin Barnard
Relatively unknown before his stint on The White Queen earlier this year, Aneurin Barnard certainly has the sort of unprounouncable name that will make Hollywood sit up and listen (An-eye-rin, in case you’re wondering). The young actor, whose first language is Welsh, more than proved he could hold his own playing Richard III, and has firmly established himself as part of an exciting crop of up-and-coming British thesps. Next up is the lead role in fantasy film, The Adventurer: Curse of the Midas Box, alongside the likes of Michael Sheen, Sam Neill and Ioan Gruffudd, plus a chance to play opposite Ray Winstone in Moonfleet and a reunion with White Queen co-star Max Irons in The Devil’s Harvest. And did we mention he’s unbelievably charming? This chap’s going to go far…
8. Laurence Fox
At 35, Laurence is closer in age to Benedict than many of these young fellas and he’s got plenty of Cumberbatch qualities to send his star soaring. To start with, he belongs to an acting dynasty (his father is actor James Fox; Freddie and Emilia Fox are first cousins), he’s got bags of experience chasing down baddies on the telly as Detective Sergeant James Hathaway in Lewis, and he rocks the angular jawline/cheekbones combo that has the Batch’s many fans swooning. There’s more… the pair both attended Harrow School two years apart, although model student and art scholar Cumberbatch was more of a teacher’s pet than expelled bad boy Fox. And Laurence, like Cumberbatch, loves to tread the boards, appearing in a string of productions including last year’s Our Boys opposite Doctor Who’s Arthur Darvill. Plenty of mileage for “doing a Cumberbatch”, eh?
9. Luke Treadaway
Like the look of lovely Luke? You’re in luck – he’s an identical twin. He and his brother, Harry, once spent 15 hours a day tethered to one another during rehearsals for playing conjoined twins. That’s the sort of guys they are, although you’re probably wondering why we picked Luke. Well, he’s a dab hand at spotting a good script, originating the lead roles in the stage productions of War Horse and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night AND scooping top honours at this year’s Oliviers for the latter – although the National Theatre may have to bid farewell to their million dollar man as he’s just landed the role of a lifetime, starring opposite Jack Connelly and Domhnall Gleeson in Angelina Jolie’s directorial debut, Unbroken. A damn good introduction to Hollywood if you ask us.
10. Andrew Scott
If you don’t know who this man is, drop what you’re doing, buy yourself a Sherlock box set and watch Andrew Scott’s spine-tingling portrayal of arch-villain, Jim Moriarty. Scott’s mantlepiece is already heaving with silverware – including prestigious Olivier and Bafta gongs – and he’s got plenty of high-profile roles under his belt (Band of Brothers, Nora, John Adams). His fan base adore him (especially after that rooftop scene), writers and directors clamour to work with him and we reckon it’s only a matter of time before he’s anchoring major Hollywood movies. Like Cumberbatch, he’s often the baddie, but his softly-spoken Irish lilt is nothing but charming in real life…
Who would you like to see “do a Cumberbatch”? Who have we missed off our list? Let us know who you reckon has what it takes in the comment box below…