Benedict Cumberbatch is arguably one of Marvel’s most underrated actors. He plays Doctor Stephen Strange on the big screen, but Cumberbatch previously underwent a horrifying ordeal that proves he’s a real-life hero. The star lived to tell the tale of his own sealed fate. Read on to see why the MCU’s Sorceror Supreme deserves an actual infinity stone.
Was Benedict Cumberbatch’s 2013 film cursed?
In 2013, Doctor Strange In the Multiverse of Madness star, Benedict Cumberbatch, starred as Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness. The film, which premiered to decent reviews, is a J.J. Abrahams-directed sci-fi adventure film, co-starring Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Zoe Saldana, to name a few.
Star Trek Into Darkness also starred Russian actor, Anton Yelchin, who passed at the age of 27 in a 2016 fatal car accident. His third time playing as Chekov in the Star Trek franchise was released posthumously.
The tragedy of Yechin’s passing came far after what Cumberbatch sustained. But, it’s hard to ignore their shared Star Trek connection.
Before his massive success on Star Trek Into the Darkness as well as the BBC America series, Sherlock, Cumberbatch almost faced a similar fate to that of friend and costar, Yelchin.
What happened to Cumberbatch in Africa that changed his life?
During a free weekend in 2005, the Marvel actor and two friends had a flat tire while driving back to the South African set of their miniseries, To The Ends of the Earth. Then, something terrible happened.
“It was cold, and it was dark. I felt rotten. We were wary because that’s a notoriously dangerous place to drive. Then, poof, the front-right tire blows,” Cumberbatch told The Hollywood Reporter.
“So we got the spare, but that meant getting all of our luggage out. We were like sitting ducks, adverts for—not prosperity, necessarily, but materialism.”
Just then, six armed men approached and held Cumberbatch and friends at gunpoint.
“They were like: ‘Look down! Look down! Put your hands on your head! Look at the floor! And they started frisking us and said, ‘Where’s your money? Where’s your drugs?’ And at that point, this adrenaline of fight or flight just exploded in my body. I was like, ‘Oh f**k, we’re f**ked.”
The actor explained that the men shoved his friends into the car, and Cumberbatch into the trunk, and drove off with them. Sometime later, the car stopped. Cumberbatch and friends were dumped onto the ground.
“I was scared, really scared. I said, ‘What are you going to do with us? Are you going to kill us?’ I was really worried that I was going to get raped or molested or just tortured or toyed with in some way, some act of control and savagery.”
His story could’ve ended then and there but instead, the men let him go before leaving the scene. A stranger found Cumberbatch and friends and took them to safety. The events, he said, changed him for the better.
“I cried with gratitude. It really, really enriches your values in life,” he said. “It’s incredibly important.”
What lesson did Cumberbatch learn that he now practices in his everyday life?
It’d be easy to point to all of Cumberbatch’s success and assume he’s had it easy. However, his life or death situation proves we’re all human, prone to painful and terrifying human experiences. Cumberbatch admitted it had a profound effect on him that he’d carry forward to this day.
“I kind of thank God I had the presence of mind to give them the idea that it would be better to keep me alive. It taught me that you come into this world as you leave it, on your own. It’s made me want to live a life slightly less ordinary.”
Seeing as he’s one of MCU’s most powerful heroes, Cumberbatch is definitely living life slightly less ordinary, and we’re beyond grateful for that.