Benedict Cumberbatch is like the embodiment of all things wonderfully British. Born in London, the son of actors Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham, Benedict Cumberbatch (’cause you gotta say his full name) became interested in acting during elementary school play productions. After graduation from high school, he took a year to teach English in a Tibetan monastery. He returned to England to study at the University of Manchester and continued his training in acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. In 2001 he began acting in major play productions, moving into film and television the following year with early roles in the TV miniseries Tipping the Velvet and on the TV series Silent Witness. After acting on TV series such as Fortysomething, Heartbeat, To the Ends of the Earth and Broken News, Benedict Cumberbatch began to gain quite a bit of attention thanks to roles in Amazing Grace, Atonement and The Other Boleyn Girl. Recently, Cumberbatch has shot to stardom after playing the lead role in the BBC TV series Sherlock alongside Martin Freeman – a role that has turned him into a veritable nerd icon, and he has also appeared in such films as Creation, Four Lions, The Whistleblower, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and War Horse. He’ll be providing the voice of Smaug in The Hobbit: There and Back Again, and he’s playing a major role in the upcoming Star Trek sequel – although they’re trying to keep his part a secret. This year he was awarded the Olivier Award for Best Actor for his part in Danny Boyle’s acclaimed production of Frankenstein with co-star Jonny Lee Miller. Benedict Cumberbatch turns 36 today.