Gracing the cover of W Magazine’s Best Performance, Benedict Cumberbatch opened up about his journey into acting. The actor made his break in the early 2000s, playing roles in various BBC productions including Hawking and To the Ends of the Earth.
He later went on the lead the BBC series Sherlock, playing the title character for the show’s four seasons, alongside actor Martin Freeman. Ever since, his career has been on an uphill slope. Cumberbatch starred in the Hobbit film series, Star Trek Into Darkness and Marvel’s Doctor Strange.
Recently, he played the standoffish cowboy Phil Burbank in Netflix’s award-winning Western drama The Power of the Dog and the title character in Amazon’s The Electrical Life of Louis Wain.
Cumberbatch on getting into character for The Power of the Dog
Speaking to W Magazine about his most recent stand-out role in The Power of the Dog, Cumberbatch gave some insight into his dedication to his character Phil. The actor notably employed method acting techniques to get into character, picking up some tricks along the way.
When asked about his experience learning how to “ride horses and wrangle cattle,” he said, “I think it was integral to convince and authenticate how lived an experience it was for him to do that, to manage the animals, the men, the land, the weather, the braiding, the cigarette rolling, the whittling.”
He went on to say, “I never quite mastered the one-hand cigarette rolling. It’s harder than most people think. It’s pretty d**m hard to do it as it’s described in the book. It’s fine to roll a really big fat doobie that falls apart in your first take and gets in your mouth and burns a hole in your chaps. That’s great, and I did that lots, for real.”
Continuing to break down his character, he added, “But he’s described as rolling rail thin, tight cigarettes. Everything about him is controlled and buttoned up, but also with great dexterity, as well as strength.”
Cumberbatch never thought he’d be a leading man
In another part of the interview, the Sherlock actor was asked about his journey into acting. Given that his parents, Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham, were both actors, Cumberbatch grew up familiar with the acting scene.
He told the outlet, “I got bitten very early when I saw my mum perform. I wasn’t a child actor, I’m happy about that. Nothing against people like my good cast members who have been, but I’m happy I had the experience I had.”
But, he went on to share that his parents discouraged him from acting. “They discouraged it, of course they did. They were old enough when they’d had me to know that it was a ridiculous choice of occupation,” the English actor said.
Cumberbatch later admitted that sometimes he wishes he “could’ve started earlier.” He continued, “I sometimes in my twenties thought, ‘D**n, I wish I could have started earlier,’ because I was never going to be playing a leading man. I look the way I look. Maybe I’m growing into my looks now.”
The Power of the Dog is currently streaming on Netflix.