PBS held a contest for the fans of Sherlock — the modern update on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s eccentric detective — to attend a screening and Q&A with star Benedict Cumberbatch and creator Steven Moffat in honor of the series’ second season, premiering tonight.
A whopping 10,000 people entered to win tickets to the event at the 400-seat Florence Gould Hall Theater in Midtown. By all accounts, it sounded like every single one of the hopefuls were in attendance when Cumberbatch entered the room to exuberant screams and applause.
But the smart, self-deprecating actor I met before fans were seated belies the rock-star reception he received on stage. The 35-year-old Brit with a wry sense of humor was candid about how he’s managing to stay grounded as his profile rises.
He was careful and thoughtful as we discussed his commanding performance as the world’s most famous detective. Most of all, he was gracious — counting his blessings for the opportunities he has been given and thanking, many times over, those fans so enthusiastic to make him a star.
“Have you seen the fans outside?,” I enquired. “I’ve heard that some have come as far as South Korea and that some have been standing in line for 10 hours for tonight’s event.”
“No, I haven’t,” came his reply. “I want to go and see them at some point. And if I can, I will, because it’s all about them and bringing a wide audience to something — if they are outside, they probably already watched (Season 1) and enjoyed it, and I want to be here to promote the series and make them feel included in something bigger, because it was such an event in the U.K. this year.
“Eleven million (viewers) for most — I think for all the episodes. It became a national obsession for a month. The week after (the finale aired in the U.K.) people were still trying to figure out what the hell happened at the end of episode three and how it happened. So, it’s just great. It’s nice to be in a watercooler moment, and I’d love for America to experience a bit of that as well.”
The British star is definitely having a moment himself, having starred in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and War Horse last year and is now filming The Hobbit and the next Star Trek movie — though he can’t say much about the last two.
“I can’t say anything about them, other than they’re both amazing fun to do. I’m just finishing Star Trek — I’ve got one more day on in San Francisco in two days’ time. It’s been amazing.”
It has been confirmed that Cumberbatch will play villain Khan in the second instalment of the new sci-fi franchise, which is enough to get people excited.
Of course, people are very excited about Sherlock Holmes right now — from the series to the films starring Robert Downey Jr. to the new TV series coming to CBS called Elementary, starring Jonny Lee Miller.
“There’s room for all of us. It’s like Hamlet — there can be more than one going on in the world at any one time. It’s a classic role. I think all of us are fortunate enough to have a varied-enough career so that we’re not all just being defined by that one role. So bring it. (Laughs.) Just bring it.”