The Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch may just have “9 lives”. In an exclusive inside interview with GQ magazine’s, Stuart McGurk, Cumberbatch reveals the multiple times he has encountered death itself.
The first time being when he was just a baby. Whenever he would cry, Cumberbatch’s parents would take him to the roof to look at the sky. Once, when his half-sister was babysitting him, she forgot him on the roof and he turned blue, almost dying from hypothermia. The second escape from death occurred in 1994 while he was home studying for finals. His flat happened to be next to the Israeli embassy where a bombing had just occurred busting the windows in his room. The third time would come while teaching English in Tibet. While hiking, Cumberbatch and his friends became lost. He remembers the moment he found a Sherpa who generously spared him some food as “the best meal of his life”.
But the fourth time that he cheated death was in fact the most severe. In 2004 while filming To The Ends Of The Earth, Cumberbatch and his co-stars Denise Black and Theo Landey were on their way back from a relaxing weekend of scuba diving when the tire on their car blew. While changing the tire, six armed men ambushed them asking for money and drugs. Cumberbatch and his friends were then tied up, thrown into a car, and driven to an unknown place. He shared with McGurk some of his somewhat peculiar way of thinking through his thoughts while he was seemingly being taken to his own death. It was thoughts like “They aren’t going to kill me, maybe they will take me hostage” in which he took consolation at the time. He also began to think of the times he had seen scenarios similar to his in film, comparing his situation to those of the big screen. When they arrived at their destination, Cumberbatch was forced into an “execution position” from which he tried to reason with the kidnappers. He remembers thinking “No matter how loved you are in this world, you are going to die alone”, a line that could have come straight from a movie. After realizing the kidnappers were gone, he and his friends ran to the only light they saw, finding some women to untie their bounded hands.
We see Cumberbatch’s exquisite nature through situations like these and how he reacted afterwards. He was told to see a therapist who then told him to “write about his situation”. He had already done this in a four page detailed description of the situation.
We also see this same almost “instinct” reaction for Cumberbatch after an interview gone wrong with The Guardian magazine. The interview was intended to promote his upcoming movie The Fifth Estate, but Cumberbatch believed that what he said was written out of context and immediately asked for a clarification to be posted. Later he wrote a four-page treatise on civil liberties regarding The Guardian and the fact that the government tries to muffle the papers. No matter the issue, he tends to display his emotions through his writings, which may be the source of his elegant speaking style.
His fifth and most popular escape from death occurred on top of St. Bartholomew’s hospital in the dramatic season finale of the hit show Sherlock. Perhaps his most famous escape from death, Sherlock Holmes leapt from the hospital to meet his “death” on the concrete streets of London. To everyone’s surprise, aside from Arthur Conan Doyle fans, Holmes was revealed to be alive…his alter ego escaping death yet another time.
Whether you believe his escapes from death prove that the film industry just isn’t finished with him or that he is just plain lucky, it goes without saying that Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the most intriguing actors to appear in the industry in quite some time.
Cumberbatch can currently be seen on the big screen in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and August: Osage County. He also made a triumphant return to the small screen in BBC One’s Sherlock.