◆Author’s Notes: Ok, this is my first reader insert and I have to confess that things pretty slipped out of my hands. Long story short, I ended up writing A LOT, so much that I had to divide the story in two parts (and they are both very long anyway). Hope you’ll manage to get to the end in any case! [I do not own the gif]
And it really is the most amazing thing. We’re in a tiny, peach-coloured room – the beams so low Benedict’s hair almost touches them. Through the window, you can see his dad, on his knees, in the garden, as the wind moves the narcissi. This is the safest and most normal room in the world. The house still smells of Sunday lunch.
But when Benedict starts his monologue, you see, again, what Spielberg and Streep and Stoppard see in him. You see what he does in Sherlock, and in Parade’s End, where he tore up the screen with only two days’ preparation. This big, scattershot, slightly space-cadet kid suddenly comes into focus – painful, super-bright focus – and becomes absolutely other.
In jeans and slippers and a knackered T-shirt, he now looks like someone who has been to the loneliest, outermost reaches of the galaxy, and become demented. The softness disappears from his face – the skin becomes tight. He is a terrorist who wants to destroy the Earth. Even when he giggles, for a minute, in the middle of the monologue, he pulls it back immediately, comes in even harder – ending the speech full of cold, still hate.
There is a pause, during which I probably should have applauded.
“Do another,” I say, waving my wine glass at him. “Do… the dragon.”
Smaug, from The Hobbit. He doesn’t say anything. Just starts breathing. Breathing like a dragon. The sound of a dragon, breathing in its cave – his neck lengthens, his hands reach out for invisible things, palpable talons. I have it all on tape. I will play it for you. It is amazing.
It is the thing. It is the thing every actor hopes they will be, and almost never is. It is someone becoming utterly, brightly gone.
Caitlin Moran interviews Benedict Cumberbatch.
I think there is an art to writing a decent and not invasive, petty or fawning profile. I love that Moran focused on Cumberbatch’s craft here. Spot on, beautiful prose, remarkable actor.