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Happy birthday Benedict Cumberbatch! Here are 5 roles that showcase his famous voice


Banister Crumblebench. Buffalo Custardbath. Beaniebag Cucumberpatch. Although some people may struggle to pronounce his name correctly, there is no denying that actor Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the UK's biggest stars. And today we're celebrating his 43rd birthday.

From stage to small screen to the bright lights of Hollywood, he has successfully made his mark over the last few years in his ascent to the tippy-top of the A-list. Aside from his tongue-twister of a name and raw talent for drama, Cumberbatch has become well known for his uniquely deep, baritone voice.

Cumberbatch is currently putting his vocals to good use in The Current War, a historical drama that explores the rivalry between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse. And here are five other roles that best showcase Cumberbatch's distinctive tones…

1. Khan (Star Trek Into Darkness – 2013)

The J.J. Abrams-helmed re-imagining of the Star Trek universe has been quite the success, spawning three films so far with a fourth rumoured to be on the way. Into Darkness finds our heroes Kirk (Chris Pine) and Spock (Zachary Quinto) once again among the stars and lens flares, this time battling the threat of super-soldier-turned-enemy-of-the-galaxy, Khan.

Although it may be difficult to accept the usually noble Cumberbatch as a character named Khan Noonien Singh, the actor's performance more than makes up for it – his intense, thunderous vocals are a perfect match for Khan's chilling yet somewhat tragic character arc.

It's no wonder that Cumberbatch has more bad guy roles lined up as his voice is tailor-made for intimidation and villainy.

2. Smaug (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – 2013)

Frankly, there is no animal, mythical or otherwise, that better suits Cumberbatch's booming voice than a dragon. The gold-hogging enemy of the titular hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and his cadre of dwarves, Smaug is a presence that many have been waiting years to see on the big screen. And with Cumberbatch's voice emanating from behind the rows and rows of sharp teeth, he did not disappoint.

Enunciating every word so that it echoes through the caves in which he dwells, Cumberbatch's Smaug is a terrifying creation. Words slither from his mouth with an overwhelmingly hypnotic intensity, draped in such menace, that you cannot help but fear what dread may befall our pint-sized hero.

3. William Ford (12 Years a Slave – 2013)

Steve McQueen's Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave is a powerful, harrowing experience, never shying away from the pain and anguish that free man turned captive Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) suffered during his abduction and enslavement in the 1800s.

Early in Northup's years as a slave, he is sold to a plantation owner by the name of William Ford, played of course by the melodically-voiced Cumberbatch. A religious man who displays clear moral issues with slavery, Ford is impressed by Northup's intellect and talent for music and carpentry, and takes a special interest in him.

The soothing tones of Cumberbatch's deep voice subsequently lull both Northup and us the audience into a false sense of security, making the traumas that follow all the worse.

4. Alan Turing (The Imitation Game – 2014)

The Imitation Game is the incredible true story of the small team of mathematicians who cracked the Enigma code during World War II, helping ensure the victory of the allied forces over the tyrannical Nazi regime. Who better then to vocalise the drama of such a story than the richly-voiced Cumberbatch?

As Alan Turing, the mastermind behind the machine that broke the code, Cumberbatch is all nervous tics and social awkwardness, embodying a neurotic, highly functioning recluse in a manner akin to his celebrated Sherlock Holmes. But it is when he makes use of those powerful vocal chords that the film really shines.

Whether explaining the complicated maths in hushed deep tones, or bellowing the importance of the task at hand, Cumberbatch's physical performance, coupled with his vocal delivery, are what epic speeches are made of.

5. Doctor Strange (Doctor Strange – 2016)

He may not have been first choice for the role of this Marvel superhero, but looking back it's hard to imagine anyone doing a better job of bringing the master of the mystic arts to the big screen.

Sporting a goatee and greying temples, Cumberbatch is the spitting image of his comic book counterpart - but it is his voice that is the real stand out. Hearing Cumberbatch's Stephen Strange eloquently cast spells and dictate the purpose of the Sorcerer Supreme is like music to the ears.

Whether it be bargaining with world-ending deities or just putting Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in his place in the later likes of Avengers: Infinity War, the Cumberbatch tones are essential in letting us know that this is a man not to be trifled with.

Click here to book your tickets for The Current War, on release now in Cineworld, and tweet us your favourite Benedict Cumberbatch vocal roles @Cineworld.