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"His presence elevated everything"… talented people praising Benedict Cumberbatch

With an actor like Benedict Cumberbatch playing him, it will be extraordinary.

Andy Serkis about Smaug

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He is phenomenal. The amount of work that goes into his roles, he has a great work ethic and a genius mind, he is so inspiring. He really raised the bar for me and he had this integrity and genuineness. I feel really blessed to have worked with him. Plus he is so much fun, he’s become a good friend.

Adelaide Clemens

Benedict is such a good guy, he’s a really sweet person and I love that he’s getting success because he’s also a great actor.

Simon Pegg

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He’s a genius. There are certain actors who have the ability to take a line of dialogue and add a ring to it that you didn’t even know you put into the dialogue, into the line. And he’s one of those really brilliant actors. Just listening to him talk…you could enjoy him reading the phone book.(…)  Sequels are about your bad guy. Because your first movie is always about the becoming of [the hero] and your bad guy has to test that hero in a very significant way. And he’s an incredibly formidable presence. He’s amazing. Are you going to be scared of him? Shit yeah!

Alex Kurtzman, Star Trek writer

Sherlock” is more than just Benedict Cumberbatch’s show, but it would be nowhere near as compelling without his lead performance. The elements of Sherlock Holmes that tend to get buried underneath his cultural iconography come vividly alive in the actor’s portrayal: his intelligence as a complex quality rather than a set of magic tricks; the alienation that comes with genius; the way that alienation can manifests itself in turning to drugs (in this case, nicotine and a never-named but assumed nod to Holmes’ famous affinity for cocaine); the lack of any but the most transient intimacy; and of course the way in which all these characteristics connect organically to each other. On “Sherlock,” Holmes’ traits never feel as though they’re items ticked off a list compiled from the Conan Doyle stories in Cumberbatch’s hands. He does the near-impossible in allowing us to think of Sherlock Holmes as a real person — and for that alone, Benedict Cumberbatch deserves a salute as the greatest Holmes that ever graced the screen.

Danny Bowes, journalist

I was just so pleased to get the chance to actually do some meaty work with him, because I admire him. I think he’s brilliant. And, he’s a great, great sparring partner.

Rebecca Hall

As you know from Benedict, just watching him, vocally, he’s fascinating. He’s got this deep resonate voice. He’s a fascinating face. He’s a lovely guy and just super smart. You want to see something firing in his brain, so he’s not just a blood-dripping-from-the-fangs bad guy. Benedict brings those kinds of smarts.

Chris Pine

He’s really funny. He came to a read, and we had a couple of things that he said, ‘Hey, I could do those. Can I?’ This was the first time someone actually just kinda muscled their way into being a guest star (…) He’s a completely irresistible person.

The Simpsons exec producer Al Jean

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I didn’t really know him as a stage actor. I knew what a fine screen actor he is. But there’s a physicality involved in the theatre. It’s not just about mannerisms or impersonation, which screen often is: it’s about sustaining a narrative with mind and body. When I saw him for Frankenstein, that was the only thing I wanted to know. Did he have that physical capacity? And of course he does. We met and I asked him to do a few things and he was extraordinary in the room. He’s as fit as a boxer, which you have to be for the stage. You have to have an internal fitness that allows you to carry the story so it never sags. He had this combination of the cerebral and the physical which you can see when you look back at his screen work – in Hawking, it’s there. Frankenstein was a great one for using it.

That’s why he’s now what he is: one of the leading actors in the world. He’s gone on to another division, which is movies at the moment. He’ll have a great time. He’s got experience, he’s not a young ingénue being exposed to Hollywood. He’ll make the best of it.

Danny Boyle

Benedict Cumberbatch, I can already say with a certain degree of confidence that he is gonna give an iconic film performance and one of the best sci-fi performances that I’ve ever seen. And not even having seen the movie yet, just sitting there in video village with the headphones on. So I’m really psyched.

Damon Lindelof, Star Trek producer

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A marvelous young actor.

Gary Oldman

Benedict Cumberbatch isn’t a man. He’s a situation that me and most of my friends are all having.

Megan OKeefe, journalist 

Benedict Cumberbatch seemed very nice, very nervous and very humble, considering how extraordinarily talented and brilliant he is.

Jamie Cullum, musician 

Benedict is fantastic. He’s just so good. He’s super talented, and we are more than grateful to have him onboard. Benedict has got this intensity about him, and he’s obviously extremely intelligent and articulate. His vocal quality is something else. (…) I think it’s all going to be love — a mad amount of love.

Chris Pine

He’s a genius. Honestly, he’s just an incredible actor. If you’ve seen his work in Sherlock, he’s just got incredible skills. I just loved his work and thought that he was perfect for what we needed. We were just very lucky.

JJ Abrams, director

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We found Benedict Cumberbatch fairly early. We needed a very good actor, someone young enough to be believable as an aristocratic, an almost slightly dislikeable character who is an adolescent in terms of his views of the world, his upbringing. But we also needed someone who could hold the screen for four and half hours, in every scene. We needed someone with experience who was not only a very good actor, but also with terrific comic timing. Benedict was the ideal answer to that.

David Attwood, director (To the ends of the earth)

He’s superb. He’s such a good actor.

Ioan Gruffudd, co-star (Amazing Grace)

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He has class.

Michael Apted, director (Amazing Grace)

He’s like hot chocolate; you watch him and think, “You’re actually delicious.”

Robert Sheehan, actor

The most unheralded of the supporting “Tinker” crew, Cumberbatch,  is also the most mesmerizingly good. The “Atonement” star doesn’t have one standout scene in “Tinker”,  he has at least three. These are powerful moments where Cumberbatch makes you feel the insane stress his character, Peter Guillam, feels assisting Gary Oldman’s George Smiley in his clandestine investigation and where he has to throw away his personal life for the greater good of his country. It’s fantastic work that will not be forgotten by the acting branch. (…) Simply, Cumberbatch is one of the few contenders this (Oscars) season that if he doesn’t get in it’s a travesty.

Gregory Elwood, journalist

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It was amazing to work with Ben. He’s become a very dear friend of mine and I feel very proud of him from the far, or close distance of being a contemporary of his. He’s having such an incredible moment. I think he’s phenomenally talented. He’s one of the finest actors of our generation and it was a real privilege to work with him.

Tom Hiddleston, co-star (War Horse)

The difference between stars and just great actors is that stars can make parts into them, rather than themselves into parts; they make those people them. They never quite play it like you expect them to, so it becomes very much Benedict’s Sherlock. Look at how Sean Connery owned James Bond.

Steven Moffat, producer and writer (Sherlock)

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He’s the best Sherlock on screen.

Steven Spielberg, director

When the read-through starts, however, this gonky teenager disappears, and he slips, effortlessly, into the stiff-backed, cold-eyed, Pentium 20 brain of Holmes. His delivery can still the room – even in his T-shirt, in this bright summer sunshine. Spielberg was not wrong.

Caitlin Moran, journalist

I would like to officialy declare my love for Benedict Cumberbatch. Yes, that’s right. I’m in love with him.

Paul Feig, director

Benedict Cumberbatch elicited peals of joy from the actress. ‘Oh, yes!’ she said. ‘I saw you in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. I loved it!’ She meant it. She usually, very politely, manages to wriggle free from people she doesn’t care for.

About Meryl Streep’s reaction to Cumberbatch at the Golden Globes

Sexy is the world that springs to mind.

Chris Harvey, journalist 

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Even though I am watching him, watching me, watching him and concentrating…and we’ve been doing the scene for a while and I’m standing on a high thing with wobbly walls, trying not to fall off.. even given all of that…when it comes to the close up of Sherlock’s face when he’s playing this sad theme- he looks so forlorn and so deep in his own sorrow that I get overwhelmed with sadness and fill up. That’s good acting that is. -  I tell him afterwards that he made me cry. He beams…. Pfft. Actors. –

The next day and Benedict has asked for a lesson in his trailer before going on set to film a scene where he plays Auld Lang Syne . We never managed to practice this one before as there was so much else to do. Hand positions, bowing straight, stance etc. And he only needs to be able to fake it too- it doesn’t have to be pitch perfect. But it does. Because he’s Benedict.

I am stunned as Ben picks out the tune himself- I give him a starting position and a finger (oh hush)  and sit aghast as he picked out the notes  He had pretty much nailed it in ten minutes having only had three proper lessons- none of which was on the tune. We’re so excited, we spontaneously high five (something which I doubt either of us would normally do) and I decide he is something of a genius.

Eos Chater, violinist and Cumberbatch’s violin teacher for Sherlock

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Watching him physically train to play James (He dieted, ran the cliffs and swam in the cold sea), and also delve into the meaning of every line in rehearsals, and then plot the effect of his illness on his body and mind as it would be in each scene (shot in the wrong order), while all the while being a joy to be around was impressive to witness. To see it as one performance in the final cut was remarkable. - He is rare even amongst the acting breed. If the character description says handsome: he is.  If it says Nasty: he is. Older: he is… Younger: he is. For this reason I just can’t wait to see what he will become.

Vaughan Sivell, producer and screen writer („Third Star“)

He has a sensibility and an oddness to him… and a directness  and a fantastic sense of humor … in many many ways we are similar in our approach to work (…) So I respect him on a pretty fundamental  level (…) He’s an actor who has the ability to play  in the outer field of basic acting work (…) He is a very generous,  very sensitive, very thoughtful, focused, disciplined actor and, you know, when you work with somebody like that it’s just like playing… like Ronnie Scotts with B.B. King… it’s just a question of when  or if… you know when someone’s got it and he’s got it. And I’m comfortable with people who’ve got it. (…) Not everybody runs in the Olympics… Benny should be running in the Olympics. I can see an Olympic runner in him.

Tom Hardy  

The thing with chemistry is, you can’t manufacture it, you can’t make it, it happens or it doesn’t happen… and I think from the moment that Benedict and I got in a room together just to rehearse, or just to read actually, it seemed to work. I’ve always been a big admirer of his work - and I hope it’s reprocicated, I think it was, and … yeah, he is really really good… if ever there was a person born to play that part it’s him… and he’s… you know, when he’s on fire it’s quite a formidable sight to see… you know, I sort of stand back and just watch him when I’m in scenes with him and go ‘Wow, he’s really really good’…

Martin Freeman

One day, Damon Lindelof texted me and said, ‘You should check out Sherlock’. And I watched Sherlock, and was completely blown away, there was this absolute undeniable feeling about it.

Certainly it was important to hear the words come out of this actor’s mouth, and so we got Benedict the pages and he sent an iPhone-taped audition to us, but it was almost a little bit of a formality.

Being on the set with him… I think everyone was bringing their absolute A-game. I think, frankly, in a way, [his] presence sort of elevated everything.

Time and again, every scene, Benedict brought a surprising, unexpected, grounded, real and often terrifying aspect to the role. So we are incredibly grateful, all of us.

JJ Abrams, director

Update:

People have asked my why I choose Benedict for this and I would answer that by saying, ‘why not Benedict for everything?’ He is so crazy good. I loved working with him. He brings exactly the respect and intelligence and depth and also humour to every scene as I was hoping he would. When I saw his work in Sherlock, like so many others I was impressed by his seemingly effortless dexterity and his ability. It was almost like watching an Olympic gymnast go from incredible position to incredible position. He really is an exceptional talent and in addition to being the great actor he is, he was an absolute joy to spend some time with. He is someone who just elevated everything and while you don’t want the classic, clichéd British villain, which we’ve all seen a million times, my guess is that we’ve seen just as many American villains. I think Benedict is one of the best actors alive. So the real question is ‘why did he accept the movie?’ I think he is so good and seeing him in Sherlock just blew my mind and I had that feeling that he would be great for almost anything. And he exceeded all my expectations.

JJ Abrams, director

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