Benedict Cumberbatch’s waxwork sculptor reveals secret of getting the likeness just right

Lips? Check. Hair? Check. The main features are important, but it’s the less obvious shapes that truly make a great figure, says sculptor John Cormican

Benedict Cumberbatch is the latest wax figure addition to Madame Tussauds in London, after the actor topped the ‘most requested’ list for twelve months.


While it’s natural to assume getting the hair just right and the eyes exactly the same colour as the actor’s would make the waxwork look like Mr Cumberbatch, it’s the less obvious parts that really make the difference says Madam Tussauds sculptor John Cormican. 

“The obvious things; lips, nose and eyes for instance might be accurate, but if they’re sitting on a forehead that isn’t quite right, or the balance between the lower part of the face and the upper part is wrong, then having the eyes and nose spot on just pails into insignificance. 

“Someone’s temples, under the jaw, the cheeks; these seemingly abstract shapes actually become crucial to capture a truly accurate likeness,” Cormican adds. 

A heck of a lot of attention and detail does go into those locks and those dazzling eyes though, with each strand of hair individually inserted into the wax over a six week period. While the eyes are hand painted to recreate the exact colour and nuances. 

Cormican says Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game, Sherlock, Star Trek) was “a joy to work with” noting that he was very generous with his time, giving two sittings for hundreds of measurements to be taken as well as creating a catalogue of reference photographs. 

“All of the measurements we capture at a sitting are of course kept confidential, however, if you’d like to know how broad Benedict’s chest is, or how tall he is, I invite you to come and meet our figure, put your arms around the likeness and give him a big hug!” Cormican laughs. 

Just be sure not to try and lift it up, with the figure cast from over 150kg of clay.

Cumberbatch’s figure is ‘premiere ready’ with a suit very similar to the one he wore to the 2014 Oscars donated from his tailor Spencer Hart. 

“The areas that are covered by clothes won’t be so finely finished,” says Cormican adding “but we have to get the body lines right and muscles can be felt through the clothes so a lot of work goes into getting every part of the body correct.” 

Cumberbatch’s left hand that is on show is also a casting of the actor’s hand.

“We are recreating that personality down to even the last freckle.”

For more on the making of the waxwork, check out this behind the scenes video: