ARTISTS
ARTISTS

Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch TIME 100
Paola Kudacki for TIME

The alarmingly talented English star

When I was about 25 years old, I worked with two very good actors. The encounters were brief, but I’ve remembered them both with great admiration. Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton both embodied qualities which one is fogyishly tempted to look at with nostalgia. Along with very considerable talent, they had elegance, glamor, wit, kindness and decency.

I didn’t know at the time that they were married or that they had a son of about 10 who was quietly gestating all the same attributes. And now, 30 years later, the boy has been let loose. He has taken the form of Benedict Cumberbatch.

His parents’ qualities are on rampant display. It’s rare to the point of outlandish to find so many variables in one actor, including features which ought to be incompatible: vulnerability, a sense of danger, a clear intellect, honesty, courage — and a rather alarming energy. I take no pleasure in feeling humbled, but there’s no getting around it.

He must be stopped.

Firth won an Academy Award for his portrayal of King George VI in The King’s Speech

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