Following their recent Emmy wins for their brilliant performances in Sherlock, my guess is that there were more than a few folks on Planet Earth that wondered, even for the briefest of moments, how lucky both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman were to win given this was their first role. How wrong they were. As most of the world knows, both are wildly successful and incredibly good at what they do. Their respective performances were the result of a number of years of study and practice.
For Martin Freeman, there were years of guest roles in series such as The Bill, Casualty and Black Books and countless TV and radio shows and theatre work. Freeman’s big break came in 2001 as Tim Cantebury in Ricky Gervais’ The Office. Following three series in sales for the Slough branch of the Wernham Hogg Paper Company, Freeman starred in Hardware, written and directed by Simon Nye (Men Behaving Badly), which followed the daily wisecrack battle between store staff and packs of DIY obsessed clients.
Martin Freeman in Hardware
Benedict Cumberbatch’s career path to his 2014 Emmy win has deep roots in regional theatre. Like his Sherlock co-star, his CV also features numerous guest roles on the small screen including Heartbeat, Spooks and Silent Witness and followed by signature roles that really brought to life his training as an actor at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art where he graduated with an MA in Classical Acting.
Roles like his critically-acclaimed 2004 performance as Steven Hawking in Hawking which focused on his early years as a PhD student at Cambridge University, followed his search for the beginning of time through his struggle against motor neuron disease. There was even a gap year where he volunteered as an English teacher at a Tibetan monastery in Darjeeling, India. Cumberbatch’s earliest series role came in 2003 opposite Hugh Laurie, Anna Chancellor and the Twelfth Doctor, himself, Peter Capaldi. The pre-House Laurie starred as a doctor facing a mid-life crisis with Cumberbatch as Rory, Laurie’s oldest son and student at the University of Reigate.
Benedict Cumberbatch in Fortysomething
For both Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, the rest, as they say, is history.