We’ll let Mr. Cumberbatch, who spoke from his temporary home in Venice, Calif., take it from here:
I got a call before Christmas Eve saying that they’re very interested in you playing the not-so-good guy in the next “Star Trek” film. Can you get yourself on tape? So I rang some friends of mine – and when I say friends, I mean the top casting directors in England who were all on holiday because we observe this little Judeo-Christian cult holiday called Christmas. Whereas, you know, some kids in this part of town, [circles his hands to indicate Los Angeles]with their Crackberrys, don’t. And the demands were coming in so fast, I was like, This is terrifying. And by the 27th, people were knocking on the door, literally, and saying I’ve got to put myself on tape.
I was down in Gloucestershire with some friends, who turned out to be useless. I won’t mention their names, they’re quite well known friends, a director and a very brilliant actress. Bless them, they were busy with his kid. I then went down to London and begged my best friend there, Adam Ackland. He’s always been there to put out the fire. And he said, “Let’s do it.” My Flip wasn’t working, I couldn’t get any kind of recording device. I said, I’m going to do it on my iPhone. It’s high quality, it’s HD. It will be fine.
And so I ended up squatting in their kitchen, at about 11 o’clock at night. I was pretty strung out, so that went into the performance. And his wife, Alice, bless her, with two children asleep – they’ve got enough on their plate without this actor in a crisis in their kitchen — and she’s balancing two chairs to get the right angle on me and desk lamps bouncing light off bits of paper, just trying desperately to make it look half-decent. Because it’s going to go into J.J. Abrams’ iPad. So we did it, and then it took a day and a half to compress it. I sent it to him, and then I got told, “J.J.’s on holiday.”
I was furious. And then I heard on the day after New Year’s Day – we had an amazing first showing for [the British season premiere of] “Sherlock,” and then he just sent me an email, going, “You want to come and play?” I said, What does this mean? Are you in town, you want to go for a drink? I’m English, you’ve got to be really straight with me on this. Have I got the part?
Indeed, he did.