It would be hard to imagine BBC period drama Sherlock being as hugely successful as it is without the smoulderingly handsome Benedict Cumberbatch playing the role of the famous London detective, but that is apparently what almost happened!
According to the Daily Mail, the powers that be on the show have revealed that Cumberbatch almost didn’t make the cut as they thought he wasn’t “sexy enough” for the part.
The publication reports that the show’s scriptwriter had revealed that the decision to cast Cumberbatch, who has gone on to find global fame and adoration since landing the role, was a risky one because his looks weren’t ‘conventional’ enough.
However, while discussing the situation at the recent Hay Festival, co-creator Steven Moffat admitted that he was glad they went with Benedict in the end – who was their original choice for the role – and compared it to the decision to cast David Tennant as Casanova.
He explained: “They said of casting David Tennant as Casanova, ‘Damn, you should have cast someone sexier’. With Benedict Cumberbatch, we were told the same thing. ‘You promised us a sexy Sherlock, not him’.”
But the risk has certainly paid off, as Moffat admitted, stating: “You don’t often get to see that someone goes from [being relatively unknown] to being a big international movie star.”
Deciding to cast Cumberbatch as Sherlock wasn’t the first time that Moffat’s propensity to take a gamble on an unknown actor has raised eyebrows however, and as fans of Doctor Who will no doubt recall, many questioned his decision to cast the then 26 year old Matt Smith as the new Time Lord in Doctor Who back in 2005.
Moffat – who developed the idea for Sherlock on a Cardiff train with Mark Gatiss – admits that he knew Smith’s casting would be controversial, but defended his decision right from the start, explaining: “I said, ‘We’re seeing too many young actors’, then Matt Smith comes in, and this is what happens when you get casting right.
“The moment Matt started saying that dialogue, with his strange manners and his extraordinary face, he was a hot young guy but he also looked kind of like your barmy uncle.
“I said I really like him. What age is he? They said 26.”
So with such controversial casting decisions already under his belt, does that mean that there might well come a time when the Doctor becomes a woman?
Of that, Moffat said: “It’s not a political decision. It’s a bad idea to cast that way.”
Adding that if a woman is ever to be cast in the role, it will be because a particular actress has come to the casting team’s attention, Moffat remarked: “A person will pop into the show runner’s head, and when that person is a woman, that’s the day it will happen.
“You don’t cast for any other reason than passion and aesthetics. It’s not a political decision.”
Doctor Who is currently filming its eighth series in Cardiff with a view to being screened this August. Watch the first official teaser trailer for it in the clip below: