Wednesday, April 2, 2014
B is for Benedict (Yes. Cumberbatch.)
I know, I know, I talked about Colin Firth yesterday and I'm dedicating a whole post to the one and only Benedict Cumberbatch today, but now I just have to find a way to work in Meryl Streep and my fangirling will be over. (Ha. Ha ha.)
But don't worry, this is going to be more than just a gushy post. I could go on and on (and on) about Benedict's cheekbones alone, but our friend Benny is much more than just a pretty face. He has a freakish amount of talent and has made some smart decisions in his career that I think we writers can learn from.
So here we go.
Five Things Writers Can Learn from Benedict Cumberbatch
1. Do good work by playing to your strengths. Benedicts sharp features and low, rumbly voice are not just ridiculously swoonworthy, they have enabled him to fit well into roles like Sherlock Holmes and Smaug the dragon. If you watch Benedict, he has two sides that can almost be split into dark versus vulnerable, (Occasionally even goofy. Photobombing U2 at the Oscars, anyone?) He's tapped into that unique combination, sometimes emphasizing the dark (Kahn) and sometimes more vulnerable (Hawking). He knows what he can do, and does it brilliantly.
2. Be pleasant to work with. Every interview I've seen when people talk about working with Benedict Cumberbatch, the person always mentions how nice he is, and how easy he is to work with. It's pretty much as simple as that. If you're nice to work with, people will want to work with you. And that way, you can...
3. Work with fantastic people. Martin Freeman's face in that graveyard scene in the season 2 finale of Sherlock...I can't even. Martin Freeman absolutely keeps up with Benedict in that series, and I personally even see the power balance shifting in Martin's direction in season 3. And the creator/writer of the series, Steven Moffat, is also a genius, and has given Martin and Benedict absolutely genius writing to work with. To make that show as successful as its been, Benedict needed to not only be brilliant, which he was, but also work with brilliant people, which he did. There's success enough for all of us, and helping each other is the best way we have of getting there.
4. Vary your work. This is one of the more specifically strategic things I've noticed Benedict doing lately, and I don't know if it's a conscious decision or if he's just naturally making smart choices. The two movies he did in the past year were The Hobbit and 12 Years a Slave, and I don't think you get more varied than that. By taking on such a wide variety of roles he has been able to be in commercial blockbuster movies like Star Trek as well as play with the Oscars crowd. I think that's a lesson we can all learn from.
5. Be sharable and niche. I know that sounds like two things, but let me explain what I mean. The internet subculture absolutely adores Benedict Cumberbatch. If I'm not mistaken he was the most shared person on Tumblr last year. This happened because Benedict Cumberbatch was both niche, and sharable. He was niche because of his roles in Sherlock and Star Trek, franchises the people of the interwebz have adored for a long time. They fit the internet's niche. (The interesting thing is that he was so strongly niche he's now starting to explode into a mega star in blockbuster and Oscar nominated movies.) He is also immensely, ridiculously sharable. Do I need to explain why?
There you have it. Five things we writers can learn from Benedict Cumberbatch. Anything else I should add to this list?
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