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SHERLOCKED: Benedict Cumberbatch Panel Transcript * 10 June 2015

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The following is the full transcript of Benedict Cumberbatch's panel at Sherlocked on Saturday April 25 2015. The panel was of course one of the most highly anticipated of the entire weekend, and was crammed to capacity.

The session was high on audience interaction, with Benedict engaging entertainingly with those asking him questions - as a result, some of the questions below will include the names of those individuals.

Entering to a rapturous reception, Benedict took a seat on Sherlock's chair in the recreated 221B set on stage to begin.

Moderator: Please welcome... Mr Benedict Cumberbatch!

Hello! Wow. Thank you very much. Thank you. What a strange thing to find in your own living room. You could give Hall H at Comic Con a run for its money. That's amazing!

Moderator: I don't think you're going to get a word in edgeways, they're all screaming. Enough!

Moderator: So, thanks very much for coming to talk to us about Star Trek. What I would like to know is... Khan. Was there any pressure from... (to the audience) Yeah, I got you. So. The Hobbit. The Dragon. Voicing a dragon is... ok, ok. Here we go. Do you remember your audition for Sherlock?

I was just thinking, what a strange thing. I saw Beryl Vertue in the front row just now, and it was at her flat that we first all met, or that I met Beryl, Mark, Steven and Sue about this extraordinary reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes. And just the flipside of that, very quickly, to see Beryl at the front of this audience is quite a journey from that moment to this is insane, it's wonderful. The audition itself was lovely. I was a little bit nervous to the point that Beryl was offering so many cups of tea and biscuits to me that I think she thought she was playing Mrs Hudson for the audition.

(Audience laughter)

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I just remember having a good time and being very relieved that Mark and Steven seemed to find it quite funny the way I was reading the lines that they had beautifully written. It felt good. It felt really good. When I first heard about the idea, I knew that they were keen on me but I didn't know who they were. Then I knew who they were and I knew that it was Mark and I knew his work from The League of Gentlemen, I knew all of Steven's work and my parents had been in Coupling so I knew the Vertues as well by that and I thought this is a great stable for what could be a very tricky idea. Why fix something that ain't broke? 

Sherlock as it stands is a wonderful, iconic, incredible canon of work from Conan Doyle which has been embodied so successfully in the Victorian era for many, many incarnations before. So it had better be good. And then I found out who was involved and thought 'well, it's gonna be good', and read the scripts and loved it. We had fun at Beryl's flat and they liked what I did and I sort of pootled off on my moped as it was then thinking "yeah this will be amazing if it works out" and here we are!

(Cheers and applause from the audience)

Moderator: Holmes is nothing without his Watson...

True. His Bosworth.

Moderator: Your Watson is fantastic. Is he not fantastic?

(Audience cheers)

He is.

Moderator: You must have got that actors instinct when the pair of you first got together.

There were some fantastic people who walked through the door and the minute he started reading with me I felt that I had to up my game basically.  It was that simple. He made me play better and he's brilliant in himself. Obviously I was a huge fan of his work in The Office. I'd actually seen him on stage I think when he'd just started out of drama school. He was in Mother Courage and a couple of other plays I think - Volpone at the National. Anyway, but the point is, I'd already marked who he was, and I was already a fan, but the minute we started reading together I thought this would be a fantastic fit. There was great chemistry, great collaboration, and it's proved true.

Moderator: So you shot the Pilot. What did you think of the finished result of the Pilot?

I really liked it. I had different hair. I sort of have a more moddy haircut, a slightly Indie moppy, moddy haircut and he was slightly looser. He was slightly more adolescent in a sense, jeans rather than a suit and there was a jacket and obviously the coat. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed the idea of it being so condensed and I enjoyed that one hour format. And then I think the story is fairly well known. It was then up to the BBC and Hartswood about how they wanted to evolve it. It's a great thing to be able to have a pilot for the BBC you know? They were already investing a great deal of interest in investigating it in that way. Then when it came back in the form we now know, I couldn't have imagined it would be much better as it then became, it really evolved. We felt like we were making one and a half hour films and with Paul McGuigan at the helm this visual world around it just exploded. Coky [Giedroyc] did a fantastic job but Paul's universe just expanded it and it became even richer, more ambitious and really groundbreaking. Literally groundbreaking in its music, its effects, its editing - God bless Charlie [Phillips] - and it was an amazing evolution just there and that seems to be the standard we keep setting ourselves every time we tackle it to just get better and better and better.

Moderator: Steven said earlier that you shot your last story first. Did you find that helped going back to do A Study in Pink?

Yeah. Very much so, very much so. Just having the pilot, having done the pilot for a start. To get to play a lot of what you have established but know you can get it better is a huge gift for all of us really, as actors. Sometimes when we shot out of sequence for the next three series it was tricky. It's interesting, I found the transition from the first series to the second series difficult, second to the third, wherever we started, I felt comfortable the minute we were on set. But the first time after we were out of the gate so to speak and started and it had had this reception and become this thing beyond our wildest expectations, it felt a little bit like I was acting opposite someone who I thought was really good as Watson in something I'd watched last summer. It felt very surreal, already it had taken on a life and it just felt a little bit weird and difficult to get into. It was Hounds of Baskerville and it was only a couple of days at the beginning of that shoot but it took a bit of time to find a rhythm and for it to feel natural again.

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Moderator: I want to talk about your breathing techniques, because I've been revisiting every episode over the last three days, and you say pages of exposition without any full stops. How difficult is that? 

It's very difficult. The difficult thing is learning it and getting it right and getting the detail right. I have good days and I have very bad days. I think when it works the physicality of it really feeds it, you have to do it like that. You have to bring an energy and a focus mentally, so the thing of doing it all in one breath it's kind of just a necessity and I suppose theatre training helps. You have to be very articulate and your diction has to be incredibly clipped and precise because when you're speaking at that speed and volume you can't slur and I really notice when I do. I watched the last episode last night again of the last series and I could hear a bit of slurring. I was cross with myself because normally it is so, so crisp. It has to be because you can't take in that information anyway. It really takes a couple of viewings I think to get in every detail of what he's talking about and the firework of it is great fun for an audience. You sit there thinking "fuck that was intense."

(Audience laughter)

Sorry. I didn't meant to swear. But it is! Terrible. Terrible. My Mums not here, it's fine. But Beryl is, I'll apologise to Beryl later. (Whispers) Sorry Beryl.

But yeah, I think it's just that thing of the immediacy of the fun of it, and the ability to do that. The great thing about all of these scripts and the detail within those deductions however spurious and fun and silly some may be, is that you really gain from repeat viewing. You really do. But you're trying to serve it up as an instant hit, something that people can get first time around.

Moderator: The Best Man's Speech I have to say, it takes a lot for me to shed a few tears watching TV, you always put yourself in the position of if someone said those things about you, and it really was said from the heart. I just wanted to say it was an amazing performance.

Thank you very much. That was wonderful to do as well. It was almost a week, I think it was five days that we were in that green orangery sort-of thing, a lovely conservatory near Bristol. It was extraordinary because everywhere I looked there were these well cast actors and I have to say the most extraordinary supporting artistes we had in as well for that whole scene. Because I was basically doing it for five days, not the same bit, we segmented it as there were certain bits that flowed, certain bits that needed complicated camera moves and cutting points. But it became almost like doing a one man show to the most surreal audience of people you know, but playing characters in something you play characters with them in. And yet it was this sort of solo flight. I had to lock myself away. The cast was there together in Bristol having a great time and I just remember the first drink at the end of the week with all of them, just the relief of being a human being again as I just did have to isolate myself but the rewards of it were really rich, if slightly bizarre at times, y'know? Just slapping myself and having schizophrenic episodes in the middle of it where I'm talking to Mycroft or myself talking to Mycroft or another sort of internal mental reel of film in my head so to speak and then having to snap back into being the best man again. It was hard to get right and really exhausting but incredibly good fun. Really great fun to do.

Moderator: Jeremy Brett once said that if he met Sherlock Holmes walking towards him in the street he would cross the road. Would you do that if you saw your Sherlock coming towards you?

Yeah absolutely. He doesn't have a lot of time for pleasantries or niceness and I quite like people who are polite.

Moderator: He keeps severed heads in his fridge.

There's that. Well it's his speciality. You gotta give the guy that. It's his hobby. It's fine. I understand that. Everyone has their hobbies.

Moderator: Could you live with someone like that?

No. I really don't think I could. I'm not saying I'm polar, polar opposite to him. People sort of want to cutify him and cuddilify him and make him something that's sort of approachable and I understand why because I think in reality he's vicious, ferocious, brilliant, funny, attractive because of all those things but he's a brutal human being. He has to be to be at that level of his game and have that mental alacrity and to maintain that skill set and focus. I know other people who are brilliant in my life, I'm married to one and they've very wonderful people.


Thank you. Applause for being married! That's bizarre. Thank you.

(Laughter and cheers)

Ah, guys it's playing more and more like an American chat show.


Keep your Britishness. Scowl at me every now and again and frown and don't smile, and don't clap. No don't. I love it.

But yeah, so, personality wise he's a tricky mother... thingy, y'know. It would be very hard to be cosy with him and have a pint and just take the edge off things with him. He's always on the edge. It's a very front foot energy, and I think he's ruthlessly duplicitous as well. There are those who are incredibly close to him that he is fiercely loyal about and that I can completely understand but at the detriment of letting other people in, to the point of being very very cold. And also he would just take me apart. He would rip layers off me in a second and I don't really need that in my life to be honest.

(Audience laughter)

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Moderator: Funnily enough, one of the people Sherlock treats really badly is Molly.

(Awwww's from the audience)

Yes. I agree, I agree!

Moderator: Molly is the one that he went to when he thought was going to die. Why didn't she tell him to sod off?




Moderator: Would you tell him to sod off?

(Chorus of "Noooo!" from the audience)

It's like Bond. It's like a lot of these sort of outsider hero characters, the romance of them is that "yeah but if I was the person looking after him he'd be alright. I could make him into a cosy thing" And I think Molly does suffer from that but there's a more mature understanding between them now to an extent I think, I really do. She saved his life.

Moderator: She was also having it off with Moriarty.

I don't think Sherlock was jealous of that. [Laughs]


Moderator: Now I heard you did a quite good Chewbacca impression.

(Cheers and laughter)

I've had a bit of head cold, I don't know if Chewbacca goes when you have a head cold. Do you want me to see where he is?

(Unleashes a moderate Wookie-like braying grumble)

 It's more like a Scooby Doo yawn.

Moderator: It did sound like Blakey from On the Buses. What was Harrison Ford like?

Really lovely, charming, nice guy. He had to leave early, I arrived late so we didn't get quality time on that sofa [on The Graham Norton show] but he's a really nice guy. I've met him a couple of times socially and he's such a hero.

Moderator: He seems to be indestructible.

Yeah crashing planes on golf courses and stepping away virtually unharmed and bits of set fall down and coming back and ruling the day. He's a force to be reckoned with that man, yeah.

Moderator: I suppose it's time for you lot to ask questions. Now remember,  I want none of your cheek, none of your 'will you marry me?' rubbish. He's already married, ok?

(Laughter and huge cheers)

Do you want me to stand up as well?

Moderator: No no, you relax. Do you want to stand up?

Na, I'm fine!

Moderator: Excellent.

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Audience Question 1: You're incredibly busy, doing these big movies with all these incredible people. How does it feel to come back to Sherlock and shoot the special after doing them?

We dream big with Sherlock so it doesn't matter what scale of work I'm doing anywhere else in the world. We want every time to give you something to turn your telly on for and that has to be on a level that matches anything else that I might be lucky enough to be a part of. Though sadly we don't have the budget of a Star Trek or, y'know a Doctor Strange we do quite a lot of good stuff with the budget we have. I love it is the short answer, and I don't see a disparity or difference in scale or quality, I really don't. It may be for the small screen but most of the episodes that I've seen first off have been screened at the BFI and it holds up on the big screen. It's cinematic stuff in every aspect, its editing, its shooting style, its music and its ambition in storytelling I think, hour and a half episodes rather than half hour or an hour. I love going back to it is the short answer. It's a very familiar family now and it's a great role and I think as long as we all keep it fresh and keep enjoying it and keep evolving it and getting it better and better and better then it's going to be something we all want to come back to.

Audience Question 2: Hello I'm Clare, from the Isle of Wight.

Where's Clare? Hello Clare!

Audience Question 2: Hello darling!

(Audience laughter)

We're intimate now as I got married on the Isle of Wight, I know everyone by name.

Audience Question 2: You're welcome anytime, I'll take you for a cream tea.

(Benedict laughs)

Audience Question 2: I was wondering, would you be able to tell me what was your favourite episode to shoot and what was your favourite episode to watch back?

Urm. I'm really crap at favourites. I've got favourite bits, which is dodging the question slightly. The rooftop stunts were great fun to do. Both the falling and the landing, the explanation of the explanation. That was great fun. Chases in London are great fun. Scenes with Lars in the last episode were incredibly good fun to do, he's an extraordinary actor. As is Phil Davis in the first of the first (S1E1: A Study in Pink) and Martin in every scene. There's stuff we've just done which I can't really talk about which was great fun.

I think to do, overall, the wedding episode although not necessarily everyone else's favourite I really did love because of the turn in it because of how at ease you were with him and also I just thought it was stunningly crafted. The idea of how something that seems to be getting schmaltzy is actually just a springboard not only for the most extraordinarily complex understanding and resolution of the case of the mystery but also because of where it then leads your expectation for where he then goes in the third episode His Last Vow. I did really enjoy that. Having said that playing the violin for them for the  waltz was probably my least favourite thing of acting for all time ever. Ever. Because I feel so phony doing it. Any of you who are any good at playing musical instruments or play violin have been very kind to me saying "no you're doing better" - it's a nightmare. I'm so bad at it. People do it since the age of 3 and are at concert level and go "yeah I play a bit of violin" and I can barely hold the thing so trying to pretend that I'm that good at it feels so… It's just agonising. I feel like I'm such a fraud. So yeah, by turns that was the best and the worst. The best to watch?  I enjoy watching all of them I do. After a while, the first time I never like watching myself but after a while I can get involved and enjoy it like the rest of you I guess for what it is which is something to be really proud of. I don't really pick out favourites, I have to say.

Moderator: I thought the reward of the hound appearing at the end of Baskerville was superb. The atmospherics, the dog itself, and all your reactions, that was my favourite moment.

Ok ok, that's an interesting favourite. I've never heard that one before. Thank you.

(Audience laughter)

Moderator: I'll get me coat. Next question please.

Audience Question 3: How does it feel from going so small to so big and having all these people wanting to see you?

I'm just thinking about what you mean by so small.

(Huge audience laughter and applause)

Lots of things spring to mind. I'm a grower not a shower? I would say it feels pretty extraordinary but this is what's very bizarre. Even though I've got a microphone and am speaking to however many this is normal. This isn't normal what am I trying to say? This normalises it a little bit because I get to speak to you in my own voice. I'm not having a very self conscious episode walking through a shopping centre or gallery and knowing that people are noticing me rather than what they're supposed to be doing. The thing of that side of being big or being visible is still weird and taxing and strange and something that I'm adjusting to. I don't think anyone ever really quite adjusts to it but being able to feel comfortable enough to speak to you now like this and talk openly and honestly about it that feels like I'm the same person I would have been before this began with what I'm saying and how I react to it. So I guess I try and do things and keep people around me that to an extent normalise what is a very abnormal situation to be in on that level. And I'm just talking about fame here. Not the extraordinary experiences and riches and fun of my work and where it's got me. I just mean being in front of many people instead of being in front of a small group of people. Does that sort of answer your question? Yes. Phew. I've answered it, it's fine.

Audience Question 4: Hello. I'm from Italy but I'm here in England studying drama.

Where? Where are you studying?

Audience Question 4: University of East Anglia.

Oh, yeah! I nearly went there! Are you enjoying it? How's Norwich treating you?

Audience Question 4: What, sorry?

Norwich, the place where you're studying.

Audience Question 4: It's fantastic! It's really nice! It's not big enough to be chaotic and terrifying.

Yeah, you've got lots of lovely countryside around haven't you? Sorry, we'll just carry on chatting!

(Audience laughter)

Audience Question 4: Yeah. Yeah.

(Benedict laughs) Sorry, what was your question, I'm sorry!

Audience Question 4: I wanted to ask, sometimes when I get a script, I look at one particular bit and think 'oh God, that's terrifying. That's brilliant, but I've no idea how I'm going to do that as it'll be really hard.' Apart from the deduction bits which are obviously terrifying, are there any particular bits in Sherlock that when you read them in the script made you say 'ok, this is going to be quite hard, I'm actually scared of doing this'?

That's a very good question. Even the deductions actually thrill me. The opportunity to be given that kind of challenge as an actor is rare so actually it's a treat. And while I may make a meal of it sometimes or be exhausted and be behind on my learning that is still a great, great treat for an actor to have which is why it has to be treated with respect. No, this is the thing. With these scripts I get the thrill that the audience gets, I've said this loads of times before, I know Martin has, we are the first audience for these scripts in their final edit, their last draft so we're getting verbally what you then get at the end of an episode and it's so enjoyable. And then I suppose you're right, it's a bit like learning a role and going 'oh my God, I've actually got to do that' but with this you want the challenges to increase. Having gained a certain amount of confidence in ability, achieving certain goals in your previous episodes you want to do more. You want to be given different challenges, you want to be stretched. So perversely with this job I really get very excited at the difficult bits in the script and it's the equivalent of being given a bit of music and thinking "Christ this is a really difficult passage but it's going to sound amazing if we get it right" and it's that simple. It just requires a lot of work. Other jobs very much so. When you get the role you get very excited about it and then you think "oh my God I'm actually going to have to be... I don't know Khan in Star Trek or Doctor Strange in Marvel". It's exciting for a brief millisecond and then the fear of responsibility descends and you realise you've actually got to make someone's faith in you real. But with this role I really, really enjoy the challenges in the script. It's what we look forward to.

Moderator: When you got the part of Sherlock did you go away and read all of Conan Doyle?

Yeah. That was the first time I really read all of them and they're the best, best, best blueprint. I started for the pilot but I really read them between the pilot and the first series and it's just the most wonderful handbook for an actor playing that character. You have a doctor who's incredibly observant and acutely detailed about not just the physicality but the mood swings, the temperament, everything about him which you could then bring to what's on the page written by two incredibly knowledgeable fanboys. I mean it's a golden formula. And every time I come to a series that's kind of how I refresh him. I don't normally look at what we've just done, what we've come from, I look back to the books.

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Audience Question 5: Hi there, I'm from America but also studying here. What is your favourite part of the complexity of the relationship between Sherlock and Moriarty?

That they're two sides of the same coin really. That there's a lot of reflection. He's like the dark shadow self of Holmes. He's Holmes without any of the... what he sees and can be a weakness, the heart, the feeling, the necessity to try and do good even if it is by bad means. I think no one can humiliate him, better him, confuse him, trouble him and give him a harder game to get better at than Moriarty. So those scenes just are... Andrew is the most phenomenal actor. When I heard he was cast in this, I knew him from theatre work, I knew who he was, some people didn't, and I was just so over the moon about it because I knew about his uniqueness. I knew what he could bring to it which would make it so exciting to play off and just dazzlingly dangerous for all of us to watch. It's the only time that I feel like an utter fraud really and have to work really, really, really hard as Sherlock - hopefully not as an actor - to become something better than that. Everyone needs an adversary. Everyone needs a nemesis. Something that is going to excel them to be a better version of themselves. That's why it's such fun to have someone like Moriarty as a villain. There ain't no one better than him. Except for maybe Sherlock.

Moderator: In that same breath, you had a fantastic actor playing Charles Augustus Magnusson. To me, I secretly admired Moriarty because he was funny whereas Magnussen was vile.

There's a sort of specificity to his cruelty, Magnussen. He's a bully. He does things to control people and he does it by really base means which all of us can recognise having been children. Flicking someone's face, licking someone's face. Flicking licking.

Moderator: Pissing in your fireplace.

He didn't tick anyone. He should have ticked someone's face. He's a master of manipulation. He does it by incredible means and a massive intellect and a great ability but to carry out the most asinine, childish, pathetic playground level of bullying cruelty and that's why you can hate hate him. Whereas Moriarty is sort of so off the rails - he is dangerous and don't think for a second that he's cosy - but in comparison I suppose there's something really anarchic and entertaining about that in a way. You don't necessarily want to see him destroyed, you want to see the battle continue, 'cos you know there are going to be fireworks whereas with Magnussen you really want him taken down.

Moderator: And you do.

Yeah. Yeah I do. Yeah I take him down.

(Audience applauds and cheers)

I don't know if applauding a character shooting someone is a good thing, really. Oh shit, spoiler alert! Maybe you haven't seen it? It's a tricky one that. Sherlock kills someone to win, well not just to win but to save. He does kill out of love. It's a sacrificial killing, if that makes sense. It is done with a purpose. It's not just about the game at that point it's about protecting Mary and John and the unborn child so it is a sacrificial act of violence but still. He's a beaten man when he does that. He doesn't win really. In my mind if a bully makes you do something more desperately violent, they have won.

Moderator: But then there is another punch the air moment when Sherlock sees the bruise on Mrs Hudson's face, looks at the CIA man... that is a fantastic moment.

That was really satisfying, I loved doing that.

(Audience cheers)

Moderator: Do you see Mrs Hudson as the mother figure?

She is in many, many ways the mother figure. Una has known me since I was born. She's friends with my mum and dad and our paths have crossed in life a few times. To have her on set she is the mother figure of the mother ship. She's 221B's captain really. She's extraordinary as a human being, an actress and as a character and it's just a joy having her there. She's a beam of twinkly, very naughty light. We just love her.

But I know what you mean, that was great, that was very satisfying to play that, to show that loyalty actually, that love and generosity.

Moderator: It showed his humanity, it does come through.

I think it does and that's the great curve we've all talked about a lot with Watson. That's the influence of having this everyman figure, this very special everyman but somebody who is more normal than Sherlock who can guide him to being as brilliant as he is, but a better person and therefore better at being brilliant.

Audience Question 6: Whose idea was it to have your parents play your parents and what was their experience like and what do they think of the series?

They're huge fans. They've loved it from the pilot which I showed them. Probably shouldn't have. But I think Beryl will forgive me for that! I remember Mark mentioning to me first, I don't know if I can give him credit for generating the idea after that or if it came from Sue or Steven or Beryl before, but I remember Mark and I having a conversation "You know we're thinking of introducing Sherlock's parents" and I said "Well I have two acting parents" so he went "I know" so I was thrilled at the idea of that. It was the first of the third series and I was frightened because it was our first day on set. They were nervous because they didn't want to get it wrong, bless them, and they are huge fans of the show. They were stepping into something they admired and followed and were very proud of me being in and doing and then had to deliver stuff as actors in that show having been fans and the parents of the actor in front of them and delivering Mr and Mrs Holmes. So it was a nervy first day but they got into it and we had a great time by the end of the scene and the stuff with the Christmas scenes as well went really, really well and that was at the end of the entire shoot pretty much so they sort of spanned the last series. I can't explain what a magical thing it is to be on a set with your parents. It's incredible. To do the thing that you both do together.

Moderator: Was it the first time you'd acted together?

Yeah pretty much. I'd said to them - this is very bizarre but I'm doing a little marriage scene in Atonement and it's just round the corner and I know you guys might be in town and they're looking for people to play my parents. They're trying to match up extras to play my parents and why don't you come in and they said "yeah OK what would we be doing?" And I said well it might just be the backs of your heads but we'd be on film together and they said yeah let's do it as who knows when we'll get the opportunity again. I don't think they would have done that if they'd known about this as it literally was the back of their heads, bless them, and they were being herded around like poor SA's [Supporting Artists] usually are. And it was a wonderful moment but we thought that was it but it wasn't work because it was a flashback scene in itself let alone us having any dialogue or action together, but yeah properly that was the first and hopefully not the last, Steven and Mark...

Audience Question 7: What can you compare with yourself and Sherlock?

I know what you mean. Differences and similarities.

When I play him funnily enough my mum has had to put up with quite Sherlockian behaviour. She says "You do get quite brusque with me when you're playing this character. You've very short and you talk a lot and then you disappear from rooms."

(Audience laughter)

Not to the point where she has had to wedge her foot in the door I should add that, like she does in our series. So I definitely think I become a little... things speed up a bit. I have to kind of get the alacrity of thought going anyway so mentally I have to be a little more gymnastic. It evolves when I'm playing it. I become much more similar to him. On paper there are very few similarities. I have time for things he doesn't have time for. I don't have the abilities he has. I don't have the same black curly hair he has. I can't play the violin and I don't live with... well he doesn't live with a man anymore but anyway... (laughs) and I have a family on the way. Huge differences. Massive differences. All of his priorities are different to mine. It's work and nothing else and a very specific type of work. I don't know it's such a good question. Someone should ask this question again to someone else who works with me because they would give a much better answer than I can looking at myself, talking about myself as myself as somebody else. It's not a good thing to do.

Audience Question 8: You play a lot of intelligent characters like Sherlock Holmes, Julian Assange and Alan Turing - which was incredible.

(Huge audience cheers)

Audience Question 8: How do you differentiate your characters? Do you bring a bit of Holmes into Turing or the other way around? Is it difficult to differentiate between the two characters?

No. They're very different, I think. I am who I am and I look the way I look so there are limits but I tried very much to distinguish between those two characters in particular. Holmes is a very flamboyant extrovert in his field, a show off. He has prowess that he wants people to be impressed by and doesn't really keep his talents close to his chest. Turing for reasons you find out in the film shuts himself off from a world that has been cruel to him as an audience or as a receptor of who he is and what he does. He's much more isolated and certainly not one to shout from the rooftops about his achievements. Whether in our version of the film or reality which was very much the case. This man, y'know, he should have been a household name in the field of his science let alone what he stood for after the war and during the war and what he did before the war with computable numbers and the basic computer handbook for the modern computing age. That in itself would have got him Nobel prize status if he'd pushed in his field. But he didn't. He wasn't interested in that. He was interested in doing work that interested him at the time and then he would move on and he certainly wasn't interested in self publicization or enlargement. He wasn't someone who was self aggrandizing. I do look for differences. Because if you're doing a really lazy Venn diagram you can go "Oh yeah he plays a lots of intelligent people". Well so what? Lots of characters in stories are only worth telling because they have intelligent people involved and the intelligence comes in all forms, whether its book learned or whether it's wisdom gained through life's lessons or whether it's innate intelligence or something very peculiar and special like Sherlock's. And apart from the fact that they're smart I don't see much correlation at all, y'know. Alan Turing, a gay man in an intolerant world in a war with very different prerogatives to the 21st century version of Sherlock. I think they're very, very different. But maybe it's just shades because of who I am, because of limits of what I can do as an actor that makes them seem like similar roles. I'm always at pains to do stuff that's different, whether its playing Billy Bulger in Black Mass or the dragon in The Hobbit or Doctor Strange who again may be a doctor who's smart but with a very different storyline trajectory to what Holmes is about, or Turing, or any of the other smart people I've played. You know Van Gogh was incredibly smart but in a very particular way about painting and closed off from that world in a very obsessive mental loop at times but a really brilliant mind whether it was in paint or in talking it doesn't really matter. He was incredibly intelligent but you wouldn't necessarily twin him with the other roles I've played who are intelligent. What a long dreary fucking answer. Sorry!

(Audience laughter)

So boring. Yeah, you can applaud that. It's a long dreary answer. I play stupid people as well from time to time I'm happy to admit. Patrick Watts in Starter for Ten.

(Audience cheers)

I've just played one recently in something else... which I can't talk about. Hurray for stupid.

Audience Question 9: On a scale of  one to ten one being a nice picnic in a park and ten being eaten by a shark how are you feeling about becoming a father?

What's the best on that scale? A picnic in a park? But sharks are amazing as well. All of it really. I feel like I'm about to have a really nice picnic with a shark in a park.

(Audience laughter and applause)

I'm very excited is the answer.

Audience Question 10: I was wondering if you took any inspiration from past actors who have playing your character since you invented a really unique Sherlock Holmes?

No. I grew up watching Rathbone and Brett and they're unsurpassable in those incarnations but no absolutely not. I watched Robert Downey Jr's film after I think we shot the pilot but before we did the series. It's not that they're not inspiring it's just that you can't go to other performances for inspiration when you're about to try and make your own stamp on an already incredibly iconic character. Like I said before the books are my inspiration. That's what I go back to. Mark and Steven's scripts need very little inspiration. They really are... they're the benchmark I aim for. If I can deliver that script then I'm going to be fine and it's a dangerous thing to toy with the idea of other people's performances. It's not to say that I don't appreciate or enjoy them but you have to maintain a creative difference or you're just reflecting what has already been done which would be boring for everyone.

Audience Question 11: First of all thank you for being our Cumberlord, you're amazing.

(Benedict laughs) It's a pleasure.

Audience Question 11: Secondly, I don't think you've been small in any of our imaginations.

(Benedict is still laughing) Oh my God.

Audience Question 11: And third, from the hours of YouTube watching of your interviews that we all do, we know you're not a big fan of JohnLock, but if you had to ship any characters in the series who would you ship and why?

Moderator: I don't know what Shipping means!

Shipping means when you move containers or bits of furniture. I would happily ship a location other than London into Sherlock maybe. That's what I'd like to ship. Maybe we could ship New York over or Milan. Yeah lets go globetrotting with it. Let's ship continents people. Let's think big here. You heard the lady, I'm not small in her mind.

Moderator: I'd love them to go to Sumatra.


Moderator: Yeah, it'd be great.


Audience Question 12: Hello Benedict! I'd just like to know a couple of things. For each character you play or have played in any medium, how do you bring together your research and life experience to deliver a unique performance and interact with other actors. And also can you do a little bit of dragon voice for us please?

(Thunderous cheers from the audience)

(As Smaug) I am not a performing monkey.

(Further thunderous cheers and applause from the audience)

I suppose all actors are performing monkeys in a way but there's a time and a place for dragons and now's not it. That's a huge question. See me after school. No, I would say... Oh crumbs. Alright, the brief answer would be it's different on every single project I'm afraid. I'm not going to go through every single project. It depends on what the starting point is. If it's a well known character that's an iconic fictional character or someone who is real there is immediately a different focus. You have expectations to deal with whether they're real or fan based or imagined. You can't take on all those expectations in your research but you have to have knowledge and you have to be part of the thing you're joining to portray whether it is Sherlock Holmes or Alan Turing. Whether his following is in the world of science or his gay following or as a political war hero. So I think then you start to break it down. You start to do things in bite sized chunks of "well what can I feasibly do in the time that I've got?" because all the research that you do in the world is not going to make you comfortable delivering a certain line in a certain moment with another actor in a live space. That's the centre of what it's all about and it's marrying those responsibilities. A lot of the heavy lifting has already been done if you're choosing a good script to do, by the writer and the producer and the director. They've done a lot of research, as has the costume department and the make-up department. That all helps, hugely. Lean on them, use the expertise of the brilliant people around you to help build the various bits of the jigsaw to start your characterisation and then really pummel the script, really ask questions of what? why? when? who? where? what the hell? Just be really specific about what you're doing, your intentions, your actions and what the effect of those are on the characters that you're with and be open to changing it on a dime because somebody next door to you will probably work in a completely different way to you, will have a different rhythm or have had a different day before he came into the office or she came into the office. So you have to be adaptable is the other key element. So the amount of homework that you do is dependent on time, the importance or stature of your subject, it's to do with how palatable or playable that is in a moment of drama and then beyond that if you're lucky enough to get rehearsals which thank goodness for a lot of things I seem to be doing I have, then you can start to just fail. That's what it's about. It's about doing it wrong, doing it wrong, doing it wrong, then doing it better and doing it slightly better, then wrong, wrong, then doing it slightly accurately, doing it more accurately and then doing it right. You never get there. You're just always failing better. Falling upwards, as someone once described it.

Moderator: We've seen photographs of you and Martin done up in the Victorian gear, and there's going to be a special set in Victorian England. Did you find that that changed the way you played Sherlock?

Absolutely. Like I said about costume it immediately affects you. The stiff starch collar really affects the pose. The hair, the movement of what you're wearing.  All of it. The heaviness of it, the lightness of it, the heat of it and it's extraordinary how without any effort at all you just morph into something which it was maybe intended to be in the thing we've just done. Sorry that was me being coy. That was very bad coy acting for anyone out there studying drama. Don't do it like that. It'll really turn people off.

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Audience Question 13: Do you ever get really nervous before a scene, what do you do to overcome that, and do you have any tips for any aspiring actors?

I get very nervous. I get more nervous usually with stage work. I get nervous when I know the time is running out or when I know I've got something wrong and I need to put it right and my brain goes blank and then I get very nervous when I'm filming. Theatre work yeah there is always an element of it. You need it. You need a certain amount of adrenaline to focus. So part of my advice would be don't be afraid to be afraid, but with that let it embolden you to fail and not worry about that and just like I said before get better through learning from your mistakes. That's the only way you learn. And you can't control everything. You really can't. What other situations do I get nervous in? When I'm working opposite people who are just being brilliant and I think Christ I feel behind or I've got to match this, or there's a certain stunt or moment that requires a great fluidity or a technicality but if I get it wrong that's a whole set up that has to start again. That can be pretty terrifying. The moment after you get a job is really terrifying. As I said, you have that millisecond of elation and then you think this is the work I've to do. I get frightened and the older I get a lot of fear is counterproductive but you do need an element of it in order to energise what you do. You really do.

But yeah keep going at it. Write your own stuff, form a theatre group. Go and see a lot. Anything you can afford to see, see. Don't be wedded to one medium either. Go to music and art as well as theatre, television and film. Keep your perspective broad and wide and bring as much of your world and experience into your work as possible. Be generous to the people around you, as that sometimes comes back, and yeah good luck!

Audience Question 14: What's your most memorable moment while filming Sherlock?

There have been so many, really extraordinary moments. Standing on the roof top of Bart's was one, that really was, it was extraordinary. Ah. I'm forgetting all the others now, unfortunately. That really is ironic. To forget the most memorable moments really is the definition of irony. (Laughs) Help.

Actually, the wedding scene definitely. I know we talked about that quite a lot but the best man speech was very memorable. Oh all sorts. The fun things. Jumping off that roof. The spirituality of that but the actual stunt too. The running, the fights, that slow-mo bit with the safe, y'know "Vatican Cameos", that was great fun to do, scenes with all of the baddies, scenes with Martin, first getting the job, first working on set, first walking on set in Victorian costume... My God. So many. Really loads and loads of really great memories. Every time I catch a glimpse of it on the telly or watch it when it's first out of the starting blocks when we screen it at the BFI it's just an amazing rush of memory really, the whole thing. Good times.

Moderator: Would you have to like to have met Conan Doyle, if you could time travel?

Now, you mean, or before? You mean if he was around now and I'd like to chat to him his creation?

Moderator: Back then.

Yeah I think so. He was a complex guy. He had so many sort of seams and evolutions in his life. Before and after his wife's death for example, massively, but yeah of course I would. I would have loved to have met [Joseph] Bell. Would have loved to have met the inspiration for him and the blueprint for Holmes. But yeah I would have loved to very much.

Audience Question 15: Hello, I'm from Boston. I was wondering how was it filming Black Mass in Boston? How was it filming with Johnny Depp? And are you going to come back soon?

I'll do it in reverse order. No, amazing, amazing. I love Boston. That's not why I'm not coming back soon I'm just a bit busy at home at the moment. Not as busy as my wife but you know what I mean. Family imminent. So no, no travelling but I loved Boston. I really enjoyed working there and I saw a really wide swing of it as well. We were really welcomed by the Southie community and I met some of the more high end Capitol Hill types.

(A small cheer from part of the audience)

Hello. We've got some Southies? Hey, how are you doing? I hope my accent meets your approval. I'm terrified. It was amazing. It was a really extraordinary experience. It's a really mind blowing story. And Johnny Depp was just astonishing. I didn't meet him. I met him all the time. I didn't meet Johnny I mean, I met Whitey every day. I didn't see him out of makeup. He was in before me. The whole thing, the hair,  the prosthetics and the eyes and the movement and I didn't know who Johnny Depp was. What was it like working with Johnny Depp? I don't really know. I met him this year actually when I went to visit the Star Wars set he was doing pick up on one of his films and I just sat in the trailer just staring at him and he went "You OK man?" and I went "yeah I'm just getting used to looking at YOU!" People said "You've been cast as Johnny Depp's brother?" and I said "No I've been cast as Whitey Bulger's brother" and that's the extraordinary thing. He looks so much like Whitey Bulger and was astonishing in the role. I mean just preternaturally calm, dangerous. There's this constant undercurrent of menace. I think it will be a really interesting ride for him this year with that role. From what I saw working opposite him, I haven't seen the film yet, it was a mighty fine performance and a really major bit of screen acting. The film itself I think is going to be fantastic. Scott Cooper is a bit of a genius and a wonderful director to work with and I had a great time in Boston. You gave me a royal welcome. Thank you!

Moderator: Well, I think you'll all agree it's been the very best of times.

Aww, thank you.

Moderator: Please raise the roof for Benedict Cumberbatch!

(Huge cheers and applause)

Thank you!

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