Jason Bell/Vanity Fair
It's time for Benedict Cumberbatch's "Cumberbitches" to let him live.
The British actor was profiled for Vanity Fair's November issue (on newsstands this week). But before contributor Michael Schulman met Cumberbatch for the interview, he scrolled through Twitter and found a fan had posted an odd message about the actor. "Sometimes when I'm sad I picture a shirtless Benedict Cumberbatch slowly eating an apple fritter. Try it!" Cumberbatch tried to laugh at the frivolity. "Have you tried that?" the actor joked. "It wouldn't work for me."
What other alternative is there than to laugh? "I'm glad I'm bringing a ray of sunshine to an otherwise dull day, being imagined eating fritters shirtless. But, I don't know, it makes me giggle," Cumberbatch admitted. "I don't look at myself in the mirror and go, 'Yeah, absolutely! I see what they're saying!' I see all my faults and everything that I've always seen as my faults."
Invariably, some fans have taken their admiration too far for the actor's liking. "There are people who believe that my wife is a P.R. stunt and my child is a P.R. stunt," Cumberbatch, 40, said of conspiracy theorists. "I think really it's to do with the idea that the 'Internet's boyfriend' can't actually belong to anyone else but the Internet. It's impossible he belongs to anyone but me. And that's what stalking is. That's what obsessive, deluded, really scary behavior is."
It's sad, in a way, that some of Cumberbatch's fans can't be happy for him. "Having a baby—it's massive," he said. "And on a very unexpected level. Suddenly I understood my parents much more profoundly than I ever had before." Fatherhood has helped in other ways, too. "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."
Tilda Swinton, with whom he co-stars in Dr. Strange, has seen a change in him. "My fondest impression of him is as a new husband besotted by his girl, and a new father enchanted by his boy," she said. A veteran of the industry herself, the actress isn't worried that fame will go to Cumberbatch's head after the film is released. "I think he knows that he wants—and has—a life first and foremost, that his life suits and nourishes him and that it makes the world go round."
So, what does Cumberbatch want to do next?
"It's a sappy answer," he said, "but the truth is I want to seek some thrills at home."
Vanity Fair's November issue is on newsstands this week.