In 2004, while filming the BBC mini-series To the Ends of the Earth in South Africa, Cumberbatch and two of his co-stars, Theo Landey and Denise Black, were stopped by six armed men, after a scuba-diving trip. The robbers took their cell phones and credit cards and forced them into a car at gunpoint.
Cumberbatch remembers pleading for his life and kicking and screaming after being placed in the trunk. The robbers eventually stopped under a bridge, tied the actors up with their own shoelaces, and forced them to sit execution-style. Cumberbatch says he thought those were his last moments. But, in a turn of events, the robbers fled the scene and the actors managed to seek help.
The Imitation Game star says the horrifying ordeal only helped intensify his desire for adventure.
"I was definitely more impatient to live a life less ordinary," he says. "I wanted to swim in the sea that I saw the next morning. If you feel you’re going to die, you don’t think you’re going to have all those sensations again—a cold beer, a cigarette, the feel of sun on your skin. All those hit you as firsts again. It is, in a way, a new beginning."
Over the last few years, Cumberbatch has made quite the name for himself, thanks to TV's Sherlock, as well as starring in such films as The Fifth Estate, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Black Mass. He'll next be seen in Marvel's highly anticipated Dr. Strange. But, despite his fame, the 40-year-old actor says his thrills now come from being a family man.
Cumberbatch and his wife, actress and director Sophie Hunter, have a one-year-old son, Christopher Carlton. The two married last year on Valentine's Day.
"The truth is I want to seek some thrills at home," he explains. "Having a baby—it's massive. And on a very unexpected level. Suddenly I understood my parents much more profoundly than I ever had before."
Fatherhood also gave him insight into one of his most challenging theatrical roles. "I was expecting, with Hamlet, that it might be a hindrance to be a father, because it's all about being a son. But it's the opposite. You understand much more about being a son, becoming a father."