Benedict Cumberbatch was encouraged not to enter the ‘tough business’ of acting by his drama teacher Martin Tyrrell, according to fellow schoolboy thespian.
The Oscar-nominated actor, pictured in The Sunday Times today playing Petruchio in a school production of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew at the Globe Theater, greatly impressed in the performance.
However he was advised not to pursue a career with his “dazzling” talent, according to Alexander Gifford, who performed alongside the young Cumberbatch in the play.
Mr Gifford, now a theater director and playwright, told The Sunday Times: “Benedict was the complete star of the acting scene at Harrow and funnily enough I remember in that show…it was like he had gone to a whole new level and had a vitality on stage and an uninhibited freedom that was dazzling.
“I do remember our drama teacher, Martin Tyrrell, advising him not to go into acting because it was such a tough business.
“We were a really rich crop of young actors. We had Laurence Fox and Patrick Kennedy, and that was down to Mr Tyrrell. Benedict stood out as being preternaturally gifted.”
Mr Tyrrell has previously claimed that an expensive education is a hindrance when it comes to making it in the acting business and spoke out about the issue to the Radio Times.
Having recently retired after 32 years at Harrow, he said Cumberbatch’s talents were evident from the moment he took the school stage.
“Even as a 13-year-old, he was obviously an outstanding actor – a combination of intuition and intellect. It’s probably once in a lifetime that you find a boy actor as magnificent as this,” he said in an interview with the Radio Times in February.
Nevertheless, Mr Tyrrell said he would not have predicted his charge would go on to Hollywood acclaim.
“Did I know he’d go on to such big things? Well, I’m not sure I can claim such remarkable foresight for myself. I would probably have turned down the Beatles,” he said.
Mr Tyrell added that the schoolboy Cumberbatch was even better at painting than he was at acting.
Cumberbatch, 38, has railed against “posh-bashing” and pointed out that he does not come from wealth. He said in 2013: “I was desperately proud of my parents for sending me to Harrow.
“It was a huge stretch for them. They were working actors who never knew when the next payday might come. My parents wanted the best for me. I wasn’t sent to the school my dad went to. I’m not a hereditary peer.”
Public school actors are having a moment, with Old Etonians Damian Lewis and Dominic West, and Old Harrovian Laurence Fox, winning plum roles.
Fox, scion of the acting dynasty, was also taught by Mr Tyrell and credits him as an inspiration, saying: “I learned more from him about acting than I did even in my time at Rada.”
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**One of Benedict’s best movies. In this clip, Christopher Tietjens (Benedict), has fallen in love with Valentine Wannop, not his wife, and asks her to be his mistress for the night before he leaves for war. She agrees and asks him to meet her later at her home. But when he arrives, he discovers that her brother has returned home from the war and is having a party with his friends, thwarting their plans. Such a romantic movie!
This is one of the most romantic movies, EVER! Just watch this clip to see for yourself…