Interview: Benedict Cumberbatch
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With his return to our television screens on New Year’s Day, it has been the question on everyone’s lips: how did Sherlock fake his own death? Despite much debate over bungee ropes and Derren Brown, the first episode didn’t give us a definitive answer - and whether we’ll ever find out remains to be seen. Here, Benedict Cumberbatch discusses the new series. How did it feel reading the first script of the new series? It’s always a kind of cold-faced thrill because you get the first enjoyment of it. It’s like being the first audience of the finished product, so it was a real treat. We knew what the rough trajectory was over the three films, but when you get the full script it’s just a delight. The first thing I go to is the big scenes, and every one of those scripts is a terrific read. It’s such a joy to read them for the first time – you get that thrill that hopefully the audience will get when they sit down and watch it. What was it like getting back into character after a two-year break? I would say it was easier than the second series, but it’s never completely easy because of the break and because of how extraordinary a character he is. No matter what comparisons people draw between me and him – he is very different in his temperament, he is more mercurial, his rhythms are faster and more aggressive than mine are, and that goes for his intelligence and speed of talking – I feel like I have to ramp up a gear which takes a bit of time to get used to. But you know, I love it and however hard it gets, and it is a tricky one to pull off, it’s a character I love playing and I always feel sad saying goodbye to him. What do viewers have in store for Series 3? Without giving too much away there is a fantastic trajectory in Sherlock’s character arc which is going from a position of not really fitting in and then doing incredibly well and forming a bond again with John. In the third (episode) they are challenged by a situation and a master villain who brings him to his knees. What’s exciting about this series is we see Sherlock in real peril. We know from the end of series two he staged his death, he was out of the game but calculating every move and therefore in charge. With this challenge he really is out of control. He really does lose his authority on the situation and it’s really exciting to see a hero in that much jeopardy and it’s very interesting to see what it does psychologically to him. As far as plot goes, Sherlock and John reunite, there is an explanation and there is a new character in the shape of Mary Morstan - it’s really about how the three of them kind of coexist. It doesn’t become a trio, but she is a leading figure in it, she’s not just a stay at home wife – she is someone who is very involved in both of the boys' realities but it’s a wonderful new dynamic to play with. What do you think Lars Mikkelsen brings to the series? An incredibly steely reality which is harrowingly possible. He is a businessman – he’s not a mad chaotic villain, not like the award-winning performance Andrew Scott gave as Moriaty. He is something of great calm and measure that has a depth to it which is an even bigger challenge than the chaos of Moriaty. He is so measured and precise – he is like a shark, a terrifyingly perfect predator of our age.
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