In London recently, Paola Kudacki took her young nephews to see Star Trek. Leaving the theater, her 6-year-old nephew remembered Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays the role of Khan, saying, “He has such an interesting face.” He does, Kudacki agreed. A couple days later she got the call from TIME, asking her to photograph that same interesting face.
“I was very excited because his career has been so big but it’s just beginning,” Kudacki said. She continued, “I wanted to capture the intensity of his face but also the quietness. I wanted to take a serious approach, very quiet, and intimate.”
The shoot was quick and collaborative. Kudacki planned on photographing a few different looks as she also recognized Cumberbatch for his polished sense of style, saying it’s “classic, simple, but really chic.” While Cumberbatch was willing and even brought his own clothes, his schedule was packed with interviews and appearances in support of the movie The Fifth Estate, in which he stars as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange; so they didn’t have time for the changes. Instead Kudacki kept a few layers near the set that Cumberbatch could easily add or layer.
In the flurry of their work, Kudacki reached over her camera and mussed Cumberbatch’s coiffe. She stole one snap before a stylist restored his careful waves.
Of the resulting image, Kudacki said, “He’s looking into the camera, very confidently, but there’s something kinda broken. It’s kinda like when he says he likes to bring humanity to the character.” She also observed, “I think he’s very respectful of the characters he’s playing.”
With the instincts that triggered that one swift click of a shutter, Kudacki too, respectfully revealed a little bit about the person behind Cumberbatch’s usual dapper appearance.
Paola Kudacki is a photographer based in New York. She previously photographed Oscar stars for TIME’s Great Performances.