Saturday, March 8, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch: The Man, The Mystery, The Sleuth and Why Fans Love Him

Photo by Karim Sadli for T Magazine
BY NOWAL MASSARI

Benedict Cumberbatch. When you hear his name, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Until recently, most people might think "Oh, that guy who looks like an otter?" Yes, that guy. However, the mere mention of him now sends fans into a swooning frenzy. The man who has been likened to an otter, and a hairless cat by my sister, is now one of the most lusted after men in recent history, but why? To explain the enigma of him, is not so easy.

For those who don't know much about him, Cumberbatch is the son of actors Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham. He attended boarding school from the age of 8, and made his debut on stage as Titania Queen of the Faeries in Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Nights Dream" at the age of 12. Until the premiere of "Sherlock" in 2010, the actor was unknown to American audiences. Once stateside viewers became enthralled with his snarky, quick-witted portrayal of Mr. Holmes, his star seemed to rise quickly.

Since 2010, the 37-year-old actor has made some pretty notable appearances, such as Star Trek's villainous Khan, the dragon Smaug in the Hobbit sequel, Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate and slave owner William Ford in the Oscar winning 12 Years a Slave. It is no secret that the man is talented, but what has caused audiences (mostly female) to abandon their sparkly vampires or six-packed werewolves for this man? Don't ask him, because the humble and seemingly shy actor doesn't understand it himself. In an article by T, The New York Times Style Magazine, author Sarah Lyhall  writes, "Although he has not been a romantic lead in any big films, and although he says he looks like 'Sid from Ice Age’  and although he once declared that 'I always seem to be cast as slightly wan, ethereal, troubled intellectuals or physically ambivalent bad lovers,' there is something about him that people just adore."

Personally, I have never been attracted to the conventionally attractive. As I've stated previously, my first noteworthy crush was on Harold Ramis as Egon Spengler. I didn't watch "Sherlock" until the third season was filming, even though I had heard all about it from friends. I didn't see the appeal and I certainly didn't understand why people were going gaga for the male lead, though I found his name absolutely wonderful. When he first appeared on my TV screen as Sherlock Holmes, a dim light turned on in my head. "Ok, I guess he's not as weird looking as I thought." When he spoke his first lines, that's when it fully hit me. A-ha! Yes. For me, all of the pieces were finally in place.

Here is an extremely talented man, who immerses himself fully into every role he plays, and he does it incredibly well. Audiences are looking past the physical appearance, and becoming attracted to the powerhouse performances that he brings to the proverbial table. Which, in turn, makes him (or anyone) more appealing to the eyes. We've all had that moment where we meet someone who, at first glance, is sort of meh, but once you speak with them, they can become the most beautiful person you have ever seen.

Off-screen, he is a kind, funny, fast talking goofball. One moment he can be talking about work or giving his opinions on the world, and the next time you see him, he's pulling faces and photo-bombing U2 at the Oscars. He, to me, is the epitome of what a celebrity should be. He makes no secret of the fact that he finds himself to be odd looking, which just makes him even more endearing. Sir, you are not weird looking in the least. You are a breath of fresh air to those of us that have also felt the societal pressures to look a certain way, and I thank you. You're beautiful just the way you are.

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