I’m a celebrity realist, which means that for me, it’s not so much about pretending away a celebrity’s bad habit, but asking whether or not whatever peccadillo they’ve got is a deal breaker, or something that I’m going to be able to ignore for the sake of my crush. For instance, Tom Hiddleston’s Twitter. Or Idris Elba doing this. I just have to ignore it.
When it comes to Benedict Cumberbatch, the thing I’m going to have to ignore is him talking about being posh. Or talking about being typecast as posh. The more he talks about his privileged background, the less I want to hear about it. He’s starting to sound…up his own ass. (Lainey: starting to???)
Don’t get me wrong, I still want him to talk. Cumberbatch is the right combination of smart, well-spoken, and bitch so gives pretty great interviews. But his narrative has become increasingly about his upper-crusty roots and frankly, the more he talks about it, the less he seems it, you know? Hiddleston and Eddie Redmayne are posh Brit actors, too, but I don’t think of them in those terms. Yet with Cumberbatch, it’s his defining characteristic, right at the tip of everyone’s tongue. (“Benedict plays posh,” someone said to me recently. “Tom [Hiddleston] is posh.” BRITISH BITCH PLEASE.)
I can already hear you yelling—leave Benedict alone!—but check out a pair of interviews here- and here he’s given to UK publications in advance of his new BBC/HBO mini-series Parade’s End (playing, you guessed it, a posh Brit). In Reader’s Digest he once again gets snide about Downton Abbey, calling season two “f*cking atrocious”, and in The Telegraph he says that the “posh bashers” in England are enough to make him consider a move to America. He’s not wrong, if hyperbolic, about Downton Abbey, but he’s been critical of the series before, only to backtrack and apologize. So these comments…they just highlight the insincerity of the previous apology. I’m okay with a bitchy Benedict, but if that’s where he wants to go with it, he needs to own it, not excuse it.
The danger here is that Cumberbatch, who is genuinely, hugely talented and has all the potential in the world, could end up sealing his own type-casting fate. Just look what’s happening—he’s promoting a show in which he plays another dandy gentleman, and his promotional effort consists of talking about how everyone thinks he’s a dandy gentleman (and inviting to make jokes about his dandy gentleman-ism, like this, which Downton’s Dan Stevens—supposedly friends with Cumberbatch—put up on his Twitter). I can’t tell if there’s a lack of self-awareness for his role in the cycle or if he wants to have his cake and eat it, too. He wants to play this type of character, he wants to be this type of character, but then he doesn’t want anyone to comment on the “art imitates life” nature of his persona right now.
The solution to his ire is simple—just stop talking about it.
(Lainey: speaking Benedict’s, erm, pretention, have you heard about the Brent Spiner anecdote? Spiner told it on the Nerdist podcast a couple of months ago -- he and Patrick Stewart were having dinner and Cumberbatch interrupts their meal and, well, it’s so awesome, you have to hear it for yourself. Click here and start at 36 minutes. Thanks Sarah J!)