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Top 10 Benedict Cumberbatch Performances

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Written by JJ Heaton He’s played a dragon, a sorcerer, a detective, and an intergalactic evil genius, and that’s just to name a few. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Benedict Cumberbatch Performances. For this list, we’ll be taking a look at the career highlights of one of Britain’s biggest stars, Benedict Cumberbatch. And today’s video is a celebration of Benedict’s best film and TV performances. Special thanks to our users Deathmatch1959, drewbrown, Jedimperial96, Seb20820, Maggie Enriquez, Austin Boylan, Louiehs, Jordan Collins, Tyson Turner, Alycatabra, MrGREATGAMERGUY and Naomi Fenton for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Benedict Cumberbatch Performances


He’s played a dragon, a sorcerer, a detective, and an intergalactic evil genius, and that’s just to name a few. Welcome to WatchMojo UK, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Benedict Cumberbatch Performances.

For this list, we’ll be taking a look at the career highlights of one of Britain’s biggest stars, Benedict Cumberbatch. And today’s video is a celebration of Benedict’s best film and TV performances.

#10: Smaug/The Necromancer
“The Hobbit” Series (2012-14)


Cumberbatch covered two characters when he ventured to Middle-earth for Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” - the dragon Smaug and the Necromancer, a shadowy figure later revealed to be Sauron. However, it’s his role as the winged beast which audiences remember most. Hoarding the treasures of Erebor, Cumberbatch throws himself into the part of Smaug, becoming a menacing, threatening and gargantuan on-screen presence. The behind the scenes footage looks a bit goofy, but the final product is awesome.

#9: Richard III
“The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses” (2016)


As part of a popular BBC Shakespeare adaptation series, Cumberbatch stars as one of the Bard’s most famous characters. Though seizing the opportunity to go full-on wicked, Benedict manages to lace the role with enough tragedy that, even in Richard’s vilest, most manipulative moments, you can still see the human underneath simply looking for recognition. Cumberbatch has shown his Shakespearian talents on stage plenty of times before, so it’s no surprise he smashed this role.

#8: David
“Wreckers” (2011)


In this British indie film, Cumberbatch takes a break from larger-than-life characters for an original but bleak drama. He and “The Crown”’s Claire Foy play a married couple whose life is interrupted by the unexpected return of Cumberbatch’s brother. Initially painted as an absent but kind husband, the darker nature of Benedict’s David slowly unravels, with the actor charting the change impeccably. Sometimes, you don’t need a big budget and special effects to make an impact.

#7: William Ford
“12 Years a Slave” (2013)


In this Best Picture Oscar-winning period drama, Benedict plays plantation holder William Ford, who becomes the first owner of Solomon Northup after the former free man is kidnapped and sold into slavery. Ford shows kindness and respect to Northup, but their relationship is short-lived. And, though Cumberbatch’s role in the film is also fairly fleeting, he leaves a lasting impression, as a glimmer of hope for Northup throughout his struggles for freedom.

#6: Stephen Hawking
“Hawking” (2004)


Though Eddie Redmayne’s Oscar-winning turn in “The Theory of Everything” has since overshadowed it, Cumberbatch’s take on the famed scientist, given ten years before Redmayne’s, is a stand-out piece of dedicated acting in its own right. Focusing on Hawking’s time at University, Benedict expertly shows the physicist’s astounding intellect and his struggles with motor neurone disease. The role also bagged Cumberbatch a BAFTA nomination, helping to propel his then-fledgling career.

#5: Peter Guillam
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (2011)


Standing out even amongst an ensemble cast of Hollywood heavyweights (including Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy), Benedict’s role in this John Le Carre adaptation is pivotal. Playing Peter Guillam, a regular confidant of George Smiley and entrusted in his hunt for a mole inside the British Intelligence services, he’s involved in some seriously high-tension scenes. Also portrayed as homosexual, in a break from Le Carre’s original novels, the character is surrounded by secrecy - and Benedict thrives on the drama.

#4: Khan Noonien Singh
“Star Trek Into Darkness” (2013)


To a casting choice which touted some controversy, but a role which Benedict made his own. Khan steals the sci-fi show for “Star Trek Into Darkness”, as Cumberbatch balances the lingering menace and ruthless determination of Ricardo Montalban's original performance, but also brings a new personality and underlying sense of humanity to the role. All in all, it’s a classic character reworked, and a distinct addition to one of the most popular sagas in science fiction.

#3: Stephen Strange
“Doctor Strange” (2016)


Snagging himself a major part in the MCU as the sorcerer supreme, Doctor Strange, Cumberbatch’s long-anticipated break into the superhero genre was well worth the wait. Taking a page from Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark, Cumberbatch’s character is an arrogant bloke brimming with snarky comebacks. But he also undertakes a hero’s journey from crippled surgeon to master of the mystical arts, with an especially inventive ride through the Marvel Universe. It’s an origins story quite unlike any other.

#2: Alan Turing
“The Imitation Game” (2014)


A widely praised performance which almost earned him an Oscar, our runner-up sees Benedict become an influential figure in British history. In the role as the famed mathematician and AI pioneer, Cumberbatch brings Alan Turing’s genius to the big screen. The film follows Turing’s recruitment as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park during World War Two, right through to his infamous conviction for indecency and homosexuality. Taking Turing’s life story for a film which demands to be seen, it’s Cumberbatch’s finest hour in terms of feature-length cinema.

#1: Sherlock Holmes
“Sherlock” (2010-)


The role which solidified Benedict’s star status, it might’ve been difficult to put an original stamp on Sherlock Holmes, a world renowned character subject to countless reinventions. But Cumberbatch makes it look easy. Paired with Martin Freeman’s Watson, his modern take on Arthur Conan Doyle’s seminal detective brought fresh life to a famous story. Though there’s plenty of competition with other modern Holmeses, including Robert Downey Jr’s and Jonny Lee Miller’s, Cumberbatch’s version is another level of brilliant.
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