How Benedict Cumberbatch Won the First Day of Comic-Con
Benedict Cumberbatch’s visage — in which he portrays an intensely focused Sherlock Holmes — adorns posters and T-shirts throughout a cavernous but crowded room, but it was the man himself who brought the San Diego Comic-Con to a standstill when he took part in the panel introducing Dreamworks Animation’s latest installment in theirMadagascar series, The Penguins of Madagascar, in theaters this Thanksgiving.
Even before he took the stage inside the convention center’s packed Hall H, the 37-year-old actor was making his presence felt: when they showed the clip of the character he voices — an “all-action” James Bond-like wolf who is head of an elite team of animal helpers called the North Wind — the hall erupted in loud cheers. Indeed, the screaming started anytime moderator Craig Ferguson, or anyone else for that matter, merely mentioned the words Benedict Cumberbatch.
So, why is the London native, who not long ago was best known for his stage and voiceover work, suddenly the undisputed king of Comic-Con’s first day? Let’s break it down:
He is genuinely humble. “You exist?” wondered Cumberbatch quizzically as he peered out into throngs of fans. “You don’t get to see this normally. I have never seen this before.” “First time at Comic-Con?” asked Ferguson. “Uh, yeah,” replied the actor. “I think you will enjoy it. Many people are happy you are here.” Talk about an understatement.
He is fully committed to his work. “I worked in Yellowstone park as a wolf for awhile,” joked Cumberbatch when asked how he prepared for the part. “I was accepted by the pack quite quickly. It got a bit hairy, no pun intended, when I became the alpha male. In about a month or two, I realized that two of the other wolves were Christian Bale and Daniel Day-Lewis.” The hardest part of his role? “Getting un-wolfed,” he replied. “Don’t put any kittens in front of me.”
He’s is a natural-born wit: “I like to use my body,” he said, when asked what he thinks of doing voice-work for animation. Later on, when a questioner was struggling to come up with something to ask him, he said, “Why don’t you ask me about my shoe size?”
He has solid geek credentials: The first book the man who would one day play the dragon Smaug read as a kid? “The Hobbit, actually. That was in my head as an imaginary space when I tried to get to sleep at night. I am not sure how healthy that is, but it worked out alright.” When asked what superhero he would most like to play, Cumberbatch, who has been rumored to play Doctor Strange in the recently annnounced Marvel movie, he did not exactly rise to the bait. “Batman, I guess,” says Cumberbatch. His costar, John Malkowich, chose Lois Lane, but based on the chemistry the two showed on stage, he would make a lovely Robin to Cumberbatch’s Caped Crusader.
Photo: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP