Benedict Cumberbatch Is IRL-Related To Many Of His Movie Characters
Benedict Cumberbatch often plays smart people (like Doctor Strange), real-life figures (like Julian Assange), or smart real-life figures (like Stephen Hawking). The smart part really is the biggest running theme. Even when he plays a Montana rancher, like in The Power of the Dog, you can bet his character will turn out to have studied at Yale because he's played by Benedict Cumberbatch. One of the rare exceptions to the smart character rule was when he played Butthead in the live-action Beavis and Butthead movie opposite Neil Patrick Harris, and that example arguably doesn't even count because we just made it up.
He played Alan Turing in The Imitation Game, a movie we've repeatedly criticized for getting its history wrong and making the story worse in the process. Still, everyone seemed to like Cumberbatch's performance. It led even Turing's family to praise the film that wrongly accused Alan Turing of treason. "I couldn't think of anyone better," said Alan's nephew, speaking on the casting. In fact, Cumberbatch himself was a member of the Turing family, sort of. He and Alan Turing were distant cousins, via the 14th-century first Earl of Somerset.
In 2016, he played Richard III in a TV adaptation of the Shakespeare play. He got nominated for a BAFTA for the part. Benedict Cumberbatch happens to be related to Richard III as well. He's related to the king in several different ways, but the easiest way to sum it up is to call Richard Benedict's second cousin 16 times removed.
The remains of King Richard were discovered in a parking lot a few years back, which is a weird story you should read more on, and Cumberbatch spoke during the 2015 reinternment ceremony. So, if you were planning on skipping the funerals of any unloved distant relatives, bad news: Benedict Cumberbatch changed the rules of what is required from you.
Of course, Cumberbatch played Sherlock Holmes on Sherlock, and this was an example of a smart character who's not a real-life figure. But Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle was a real-life figure, and you guessed it: Cumberbatch is related to him. He is what sources call a "direct descendant" of Doyle. The two men are 16th cousins twice removed, via a 14th-century noble—not the one that connected him to Turing, but John of Gaunt, the first Duke of Lancaster. That doesn’t actually sound at all to us like Cumberbatch is Doyle's direct descendant, but we guess it's “direct” compared to various other people's claimed relationships, which are even less direct than this one.
Okay, all this talk of being 15th cousins 14 times removed via some 13th-century count is making us think you could say everyone is related, if you draw the family trees in enough detail. At least, everyone is related if you're talking only about Londoners of a certain class, who are well known for incest (that's how they get those messed-up faces).
Either that or, naturally, Cumberbatch isn't related to any of these men but actually IS all of them. He changes his name every few years and then drops these clues about his past identities, just to toy with us all.
Top image: BBC