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Admittedly, it's not a look for
everyone. One tabloid paper
compared him to the racehorse
Shergar. An Internet prankster
posted his likeness next to a
series of otters - inspiring a
further meme called '13 Things
Benedict Cumberbatch Looks
Like', including uncooked
dough, a glass of milk and E.T.
'I don't think people turn on to
see me, looking the way I look,'
he sighs. But it hasn't stopped
the female adoration. 'There's some obsessive behaviour, which is
a bit worrying,' he laughs. 'I worry for them, not for me.'
Once dubbed the 'Cumberbitches' (a name he's not keen on),
now called the Cumber Collective,
his web following is fanatical -
doubtless encouraged by the fact
that he split from his long-term
girlfriend, actress Olivia Poulet (best
known for The Thick Of It) back in
2010 and has remained single ever
since. 'It's a strange thing to deal
with,' he admits. 'The main thing is,
any privacy in public now is a very
odd thing to negotiate. I'm still very
sensitive to it. I'm very wary of people recognising me.'
So far it's been manageable, though he does have one gripe: 'The
only thing that really pisses me o¡ is people trying to surreptitiously
take a photo on their phone without asking. That really fucks me
o¡. It's not just that I feel it's invasive, I feel it's cowardly and a bit
pathetic. Why do you need that proof? Just ask me if you want to
have a photo with me. People's response is, "I'm a bit shy". Well, then,
don't fucking take a photograph…
that's a cheat's way out! But it's a
small problem, not a big deal.'
A stroke of genius
He may be an unlikely sex symbol,
but it's also understandable. Clever
is sexy - and Cumberbatch can ooze
genius. A year after his South African
car-jacking he was nominated for a BAFTA - the rst of four so far -
for playing a young Stephen Hawking at the onset of his illness. And
there were others - Van Gogh in a 2010 television movie, the titular
scientist in Danny Boyle's stage
production of Frankenstein
(he also played the monster,
swapping nightly with co-star
Jonny Lee Miller), and, more
recently, WikiLeaks founder
Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate.
But it's his near-sociopathic
Sherlock that has captured
imaginations. 'We were
condent going into it that it
was going to be something good, but nothing like as big as it's been,'
he admits. Back in 2010, when the show was rst broadcast, it was
the beginning of what he calls 'a perfect storm' - with Cumberbatch
winning roles in War Horse, Frankenstein and as George Smiley's
protégé in the sublime lm adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
'All three of those jobs were nothing to do with Sherlock,' he says.
'None of the directors had seen it.'
'I DON'T LIVE BEYOND MY MEANS.
I ENJOY LUXURY AND I ENJOY THE PRIVILEGE
OF IT, WHEN I CAN AFFORD IT � BUT I'M
VERY CONSCIOUS OF WHAT IS WASTEFUL'Dancing with Valentine
Wannop in Parade's End
As Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate
12 Years A Slave, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor
PHOTOS: KOBAL COLLECTION