Madam Tussauds - The making of Benedict Cumberbatch [x]
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Make way for His Royal Hotness! Benedict Cumberbatch cuts a handsome figure as he films scenes for Richard III drama on horseback dressed in regal attire He is set to play King Richard III in new period drama The Hollow Crown. And on Sunday, Benedict Cumberbatch looked very much in character when he appeared on horseback to film scenes around Wells Cathedral in Somerset.
The 38-year-old actor cut a handsome figure clad in regal attire, consisting of dark blue robes and a black hooded cape. The actor, known for playing Sherlock Holmes, was also pictured dressed in a black velvet and gold embroidered cloak as he wore a jewelled crown on his head. Sitting on a large mahogany throne.
Benedict appeared pensive as he filmed scenes inside the beautiful cathedral. Produced by Skyfall director Sam Mendes, the three-part adaptation will also star Dame Judi Dench as Cecily, Duchess of York. Spooks star Keeley Hawes will take on the role of Queen Elizabeth, while Hotel Rwanda actress Sophie Okonedo will play Queen Margaret.
Benedict will also be reunited with Sherlock co-star Andrew Scott, the detective’s nemesis Moriarty, who will take on the role of King Louis XI of France.
An afternoon with Benedict Cumberbatch
Celebrities spend a notable portion of their time with photographers. They spend this allotted time in front of a camera, choosing how much they reveal of themselves, posing, not posing, indulging requests, refusing them… Then they go away, often leaving a lasting impression on the photographer. Which begs the question, how much of an impression can a photographer leave on a celebrity? It would be easy to leave a bad one, just be an arsehole. But to leave a lasting positive impression before anyone even sees the photos, how often does that happen?
I am not flamboyant, loud, boisterous, camp or crass. I possess few of the imagined stereotypical celebrity photographer qualities. I am polite, patient, anxious in the beginning, more confident as the shoot goes on, witty if I get lucky and I like to talk to my subject. Not just asking them questions, like some kind of bonus interview, but talking about myself too, so it’s a normal conversation between two normal people. I don’t give enormous amounts of direction when making portraiture. I wait, I nudge, I wait some more, I suggest, I keep waiting until ‘the photograph appears’. Sometimes I take pictures to fill the time waiting for ‘the photograph’ and sometimes those pictures work, but most of the time I know when I have got the shot I’ve waited for before looking at the back of the camera, or seeing the contact sheets. In this case, with Benedict, I shot entirely on film.
I don’t want to exaggerate, I’m sure my assistant would tell you that to him and anyone else on the shoot observing, there were no remarkable exchanges between myself and Mr Cumberbatch. At one point I told him he was being ‘too sexy’ - I think he’d undone some buttons on his shirt - and that became sort of a running joke for the rest of the shoot, but I’m probably romanticising. Even so, it sticks in my mind, begging embellishment with each retelling.
It’s intimidating, in truth, to talk to someone who’s very personality has catapulted them to international stardom. I didn’t achieve some small success in photography because I’m hilarious, brilliant, witty or charming, I got to where I am because of my ‘eye’ (and to an arguably larger extent, my business strategy). Whether or not I did a good job doesn’t become evident until much later on, after the shoot has finished and everyone has gone home. Benedict on the other hand, is required to exude charisma at all times, the nature of his talent means it is instantaneously evident, judged live. To photograph someone with his strength of character is to strive frantically to capture a portion of it. Even if you only manage half a second, that’s all you need, such is the immortality of a still image.
I’ve had a lot of excellent feedback on the story for OUT magazine, most notably from Benedict’s devoted fan-base, who arguably know him best of all, being followers of everything he does, every photo, every interview, chat show appearance and the like. Still I don’t know what Benedict himself thinks of the pictures, or me as a person for that matter, and am unlikely to ever find out, at least directly.
All I can say with absolute certainty about my time with Sherlock, Smaug, Julian, Alan, Khan, is that it never felt awkward or uncomfortable, I spent most of it smiling, a handful of it laughing, and whether I made any sort of impression on him or not, I am eternally thankful that he happened to be my first cover.