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2-min read

Happy Birthday Benedict Cumberbatch: 9 Lesser-known Facts About the Actor

As Benedict Cumberbatch celebrates his 43rd birthday on July 19, here are a few interesting facts about the actor:

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Updated:July 19, 2019, 2:57 PM IST
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Happy Birthday Benedict Cumberbatch: 9 Lesser-known Facts About the Actor
Image: Getty Images

You may know him as Doctor Strange from the Marvel Cinematic Universe or as the quintessential British detective Sherlock Holmes from the series of the same name. And if you are a true blue fan, you may also recognise him as playing real-life cryptographer Alan Turing in the historical drama The Imitation Game -- there is no denying that Benedict Cumberbatch has essayed a number of memorable roles in cinema. The English actor has received numerous accolades, including the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for Frankenstein and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for Sherlock.

As he celebrates his 43rd birthday on July 19, here are a few interesting facts about the actor:

Though Cumberbatch grew up in a family of actors, he wasn’t always keen to be in front of a camera. In fact, he wanted to want to become a criminal lawyer.

His real-life parents are also his reel life parents in Sherlock. While both Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham are familiar faces as actors in their own right, they also essayed the roles of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes’s parents in the television series.

There was a time when Cumberbatch decided to volunteer his time and teach English at a Tibetan monastery in Darjeeling. In an interview with Lion's Roar, the actor revealed that he had always been fascinated by the idea of meditation and what it meant, adding, “In India, I went on a retreat with a lama—several days of incantation to clear and purify the mind—along with a dozen other people. It was incredible, and I kind of floated out of there after two weeks."

There was a time, while he was filming for the 2005 miniseries To the Ends of the Earth, that he was kidnapped. While on a trip, the actor and two of his colleagues were trying to change the tire, when six men appeared suddenly and frisked them for drugs, money, weapons before bundling them into the car.

Cumberbatch, who received international recognition as late as 2010 playing the titular character Sherlock in the series, has been a mainstay in numerous "Sexiest Man Alive" lists including those of Empire and People.

Cumberbatch was not sure about playing Sherlock, neither was BBC keen on hiring him. The actor had once revealed that idea seemed a "bit cheap and cheesy" to him and the BBC wasn't sure the actor was a great match for the role—because they wanted someone with sex appeal.

Cumberbatch playing Sherlock Holmes may have been destined. Turns out, according to a research in 2017 by Ancestry.com, Cumberbatch and Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are sixteenth cousins, twice removed.

It turns out, not only Doyle, Cumberbatch is related to another character he essayed -- Alan Turing. In 2014, the same team of researchers determined that Cumberbatch was the 17th cousin of the codebreaker Alan Turing, whom he played in Morten Tyldum’s The Imitation Game (2014)

The actor was born with a rare genetic mutation, he has both central heterochromia and sectoral heterochromia—two rare-but-harmless genetic mutations that affect his eyes. Each of his eyes has multiple colors (a mix of blue, green, and gold) because of the central heterochromia, and the sectoral heterochromia is the reason why he has a brown “freckle” on his right eye.

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