Before he was Tumblr’s favorite actor, Benedict Cumberbatch was just a working actor with a seemingly made up name and, holy shit, an incredibly harrowing near-death experience.
Cumberbatch is on the cover of this month’s The Hollywood Reporter, and in the accompanying article he tells the magazine about his sun-drenched north London apartment, his philosophical Buddhism and, oh right, that one time he was kidnapped and nearly killed by a pack of anonymous South Africans with guns. It’s not exactly a run-of-the-mill magazine profile.
“We were in South Africa, in KwaZulu-Natal, this amazing district north of Durban,” Cumberbatch tells the magazine. Cumberbatch was in South Africa to film the 2005 miniseries To the Ends of the Earth. “We were wary because that’s a notoriously dangerous place to drive.”
And that’s when all hell broke loose. A tire popped in the car Cumberbatch was riding in with two friends. As they were fishing out the spare, the group was ambushed.
Tears spring into Cumberbatch’s eyes as he recounts every petrifying detail, explaining how the abductors drove him and his friends off and then, when the actor protested that his bound limbs were losing sensation, yanked him out of the car and threw him in the trunk. Finally, they came to a halt in the middle of nowhere and tossed Cumberbatch on the ground. Deep into the night, he remained in terror. “I was scared, really scared. I said: ‘What are you going to do with us? Are you going to kill us?’ I was really worried that I was going to get raped or molested or just tortured or toyed with in some way, some act of control and savagery.”
Inexplicably, the captors did not seriously hurt Cumberbatch and his friends, leaving them stranded. He was then rescued by a stranger and given a new outlook on life. “It really, really enriches your values in life,” he said of the experience.
From there, Cumberbatch when on to star in Sherlock and is poised to have his biggest year yet. His role in Parade’s End was nominated for an Emmy and Cumberbatch just had an impressive three films (The Fifth Estate, 12 Years a Slave and August: Osage County) screened at the Toronto International Film Festival. His astronomic rise to stardom has a lot to do with his popularity online, but Cumberbatch himself isn’t much a fan of the internet: “I find it quite despicable.”
Well, alright then.