With the BBC’s Hollow Crown hitting the air on BBC2 in the UK, it’s hard, once again, to find words to describe the next chapter in the book on Benedict Cumberbatch when it comes to his acting ability. It was 2004 when I first ran across the star of Sherlock in the television film, Hawking, where he brilliantly portrayed the theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, during his early years as a PhD student at Cambridge University, his search for the beginning of time and his struggle against motor neuron disease.
His career has done nothing but skyrocket from that moment whether it be on stage, on screen or in the world of voice and motion capture (Smaug and Necromancer, The Hobbit). In February 2011, I had the great good fortune to see Benedict Cumberbatch at the Royal National Theatre in what had to be one of his most challenging roles to date in Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein where he played both Victor Frankenstein and the Creature, alternating nightly with his ‘American’ Sherlock Holmes counterpart, Jonny Lee Miller.
Now, Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance has been hailed as “extraordinary” for his turn as Richard III in the latest edition of BBC’s The Hollow Crown, with many dubbing it a “masterclass in acting”. Those involved in the second installment of the series reads like who’s who in British acting royalty with Hugh Bonneville, Judi Dench, Michael Gambon, Philip Glenister, Sophie Okonedo and Keeley Hawes joining Cumberbatch in this celebration of Shakespeares 400th. Here, Cumberbatch’s Richard III is rowed to the Tower of London with his sovereign aspirations in tow as he dreams of winning the crown.
The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses currently on BBC2 and coming December 2015 on PBS’ Great Performances series