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Why Benedict Cumberbatch Almost Turned Down Sherlock

Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Sherlock BBC

Sherlock without Benedict Cumberbatch!? It almost happened. In the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, the Emmy nominee revealed he was hesitant to join the series, a modern day twist on the classic Sir Arthur Conan Doyle character.

"My reservation was ‘Well, this is a very iconic character, there will be a lot of attention on it,'" Cumberbatch told EW. "This was before I had had any significant success [but] I knew there would still be a lot of focus on it. And while I had done work, it wasn't stepping into the populist limelight like playing a character like Holmes. So I did have a pause for thought."

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A lot of attention is right. Sherlock just wrapped its season three run in the UK were it posted its most-watched episodes yet. The third season debuts on PBS in the US on Sunday, Jan. 19. The Hobbit star Martin Freeman stars opposite Cumberbatch as Dr. John Watson. The show hails from Doctor Who mastermind Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss. Gatiss appears on Sherlock as Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's brother. Cumberbatch has been nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his work on the series.

So, why'd he say yes? "I thought, ‘If I'm going to do this, if I'm going to step into the limelight with a large leading role of iconic status, then I might as well do it these people,'" he said. "They know what they're doing and I completely trust them. I felt like I was being asked to join the family and have some fun. There was nothing businessy about it. And that's how to operate it."

While season three has just wrapped airing, Moffat revealed Cumberbatch and Freeman have already decided to do season four and he has seasons four and five plotted.

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"Rather excitingly, Mark and I, for no particular reason, we just got out of the rain and sat at the top of the [Sherlock] production bus...and we just started plotting out what we could do in the future," Moffat recently told an audience, according to RadioTimes. "And we plotted out the whole of series four and five."

When the new season of Sherlock hits US shores it'll be paired with Downton Abbey on Sunday nights.

"We love that Sherlock fans are so passionate and eager to see Season 3," Beth Hoppe, PBS chief programming executive and general manager of general audience programming, said in a statement when the premiere date was announced. "The pairing of Downton Abbey and Sherlock in January offers a blockbuster night of British drama only on PBS stations."

Sherlock airs Sundays, 10 p.m. on PBS.

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