We know him as Sherlock Holmes and Khan, but it’s sometimes nice to be reminded that Benedict Cumberbatch is first and foremost a proper actor. So proper, in fact, that he can make the choice to move away from a potential star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for a little while and take on a major part in a Shakespearean play. Now, he seems to be doing just that, as BBC Two recently announced that Cumberbatch will appear in a television production of Richard III as part of a trilogy of adaptations of Shakespeare’s history plays.
According to Deadline, Cumberbatch is in line to play the titular king who traded his kingdom for a horse in a telefilm executively produced by Sam Mendes (Skyfall) and directed by Royal Court Theatre artistic director Dominic Cooke. The Richard III production will likely follow the previous Henry VI plays in the history cycle, concluding Shakespeare’s dramatic mapping of the rise and fall of the English royal household that begins with Richard II and concludes with Richard III and the ascension of Henry Tudor (Henry VII). Richard III is not exactly praised for its historical accuracy or sympathetic representation of the monarch, who’s both the protagonist and villain of the piece, but it is a brilliant play, and Cumberbatch has the chops to bring the character to life.
While Cumberbatch has only recently become known in America, he’s an alum of the Royal Court Theatre and was trained in drama at both the University of Manchester and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He’s also planning to appear in a run of Hamlet in London’s West End during the summer of 2015. It appears that he’s making a good show of balancing his high-profile film and television roles with some equally high-profile stage performances.
There is as yet no air date for Richard III, but we’ll let you know when one becomes available.