Actor Reinvention: Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch’s mysterious role in the new “Star Trek” movie from J.J. Abrams has more than once been compared to the iconic Trekverse role of Khan as originated by Ricardo Montalban. The idea that Cumberbatch may be taking over the role of Khan seems more than a bit weird considering that he is a typically light-complexioned Brit and Richard Montalban sported the swarthy good looks of the lower Latin countries.

Then there is the body and I’m not talking about Jesse Ventura.

Cumberbatch may well leave Montalban in the dust as an actor whether the two can be compared over their respective interpretations of Khan or not. When it comes to sheer physical presence, however, few could possibly argue that Montalban was far more worthy of being born to play Khan than Cumberbatch.

Of course, the whole Kahn conundrum has become ever so much bridge over troubled waters with the advance screenings of “Star Trek Into Darkness.” If you haven’t seen the movie or read the spoilers by the time you read this, I won’t spoil things for you. But allow me to play a little mind game with you. Suppose just a moment that Benedict Cumberbatch was hired to recreate the role of Khan? He would certainly need to reinvent his lanky physique, yes?

If you want to know if Cumberbatch is playing Khan, then read the spoilers or go see the movie. Or, if you prefer, continue to play the tempting game of Guess Who by soaking up the fascinating news that no less a trainer than the guy who turned Tom Hardy into a muscle-bound villain named Bane (or was it Bronson?) was hired to fill Cumberbatch’s body with 4,000 calories a day. I’m not saying one thing or another, but if you are going to hire the guy who helped Hardy transform into one big walking muscle and you are downing chicken by the bucket and washing them down with protein shakes, then you must surely be playing someone who is more than just a disgruntled Federation associate, right?

Benedict Cumberbatch came to the attention of many Americans in his star-making role in the BBC series “Sherlock.” Although Sherlock Holmes has been transformed into everything from an expatriate Brit living in New York with a drug problem to an obviously American snark-hunter with a horrific British accent in two recent terrible movies, the one thing he has yet to become is a muscular creature capable of devastating mischief. That Cumberbatch went to such lengths to change his very appearance should say leagues about just who he might be playing in “Star Trek Into Darkness.” At the very least, it should inform you that maybe everything you have hard so far ain’t necessarily so.