17 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Sherlock

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This exceptionally dramatic promo shot of Benedict Cumberbatch is from “The Empty Hearse” and is so well lit. (Photo: (Photo: Courtesy of (C)Robert Viglasky/Hartswood Films 2013 for MASTERPIECE)

Benedict Cumberbatch Was the Only Person Who Auditioned to Play Sherlock

If you can’t imagine anyone else playing this particular version of Sherlock Holmes besides Benedict Cumberbatch? You’re not alone. Neither can the folks who make the show.

Even though he was a relatively little-known actor at the time, Steven Moffat and his wife Sue Vertue were impressed with his performance in the 2007 film Atonement. (Cumberbatch played an especially awful character in it.) They really liked it. They also somehow also managed to extrapolate that he’d be great at playing a genius detective from the fact that he played a literal human garbage fire. Moffat apparently “recognized similar qualities” between the two characters, though I’m not quite sure I could guess what they are. Moffat has also said that he felt Cumberbatch was “not ever going to play an ordinary man”, so that’s probably part of it as well. And he’s probably right on that score. There’s got to be a reason this guy keeps going after the chance to play various flavors of tortured intellectual.

As it turns out, Moffat’s creative partner Mark Gatiss had already worked with Cumberbatch in the comedy film Starter for 10 and vouched for him. So that probably also helped a bit. But, either way, Cumberbatch was everyone’s Number 1 pick to play the great detective, right from the very beginning. He was the only person asked to audition. The rest, as they say, is history.