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Dear Tami,

Because you asked for it – and only because you asked – I’m providing the link to the ad I did for Jaguar. No, I didn’t say “aluminium” in this one and yes, the Jag was fun to drive. I’d be happy to swing by your writing cave and pick you up in it. With the built-in GPS system and an engine that can go from 0 to 60 in a few seconds, I can be there rather quickly. All I need is the location.

You know what else makes me feel alive as well as a bit confused? A mysterious parcel on my doorstep with an assortment of very odd things in it, that’s what. The other day as I was leaving to go work on set, I discovered the large parcel just outside my door. Without a return address on it I couldn’t be sure who it was from but decided to take it up to my flat to open it. I tore apart the brown paper wrapping and found inside the box a baseball cap with an attached wig of curly grey hair, a stick-on mustache, a pair of large gold wire rimmed glasses, a brown velour track suit, a sleeveless undershirt with an abundance of padding around the stomach, & a ticket to the bizarrely named movie Jesus Henry Christ.

Of course there was no note included in the box to shed some light on the meaning of it all. The movie did sound interesting and the more I thought about it, the more intrigued I was to see it. Toni Collette is a brilliant actor as is fellow Brit, Michael Sheen. I figured it must be a decent movie and after a quick search on YouTube, I was able to find the movie trailer to confirm that:

(You might also be interested to know I easily discovered that the writer and director of the film, Dennis Lee, was a good friend of yours in high school. Have I ever mentioned how much *FUN* the internet is for finding out things like that? Don’t worry, I won’t post any embarrassing high school photos with you two in them. Yet.)

But I digress. Back to the parcel.

Since I have become more recognizable these days, I deduced that the other items in the box were provided to make a fantastic disguise and enable me to go to the theatre without being noticed by any fans. I normally don’t go to the movies in a velour track suit but I must admit it was quite comfortable. I added the padded belly, the hat and wig combination, the glasses and slapped on the mustache and was ready for an evening out incognito. I would have provided a photo for you but I suspect you can picture it just fine in your mind without it.

And oh, how exhilarating and liberating it was to walk the streets unnoticed, something I haven’t been able to do since Sherlock has become so successful. I am humbled and flattered that the show has been so well received and with that comes the extraordinarily difficult challenge of going anywhere without being recognized. It’s that awkward dichotomy of being grateful for the work and the fans and craving some much-needed anonymity and privacy.

Once inside the theatre, I squeezed myself into my seat and was surprised to discover that the extra padding around my middle provided a fantastic place to rest the tub of popcorn and boxes of candy. A surprisingly useful disguise in more ways than one.

When the movie ended, I began the process of extricating myself out of the theatre seat, a feat that was made quite difficult by the extra stuffing I was hauling around. I had not realized how wedged in the seat I had become during the course of the movie. No matter how I squished and squeezed the stomach padding, I couldn’t get up.

After my fifth attempt at standing up and failing to do so, I was beginning to think I would be trapped in that seat all night. I leaned my head back and closed my eyes while laughing at myself and the absurdity of the situation. I wondered if I should call for help and hope no one figured out who I was or asked why I was wearing such a ridiculous disguise? Or should I take everything off and hope no one was around to see that embarrassing scenario? As I sat there trying to figure it all out, a hand suddenly grabbed onto my arm and like a cork being popped from a bottle of Champagne, I was yanked out of my seat in one swift motion.

Finally on my feet and feeling a little dazed, I turned to thank my rescuer but she was already half way up the aisle. At the door, she paused and looked back at me. We held each other’s gaze for a brief moment, me standing there in my track suit, distended abdomen and wig, she in a Cat Woman disguise. Then she gave me a wink and quickly slipped out the door.

I tried to follow her but found I could not move easily with the puffy stomach. Trying to run in that particular disguise did not bring out my most graceful moves, let me tell you. By the time I made it outside the theatre, I only caught a glimpse of her before she rounded a corner and was out of sight.

So tell me, friend: seen any good movies lately?

And speaking of being some else, so you tried some Method Acting techniques on that particularly difficult scene and it helped? Bravo, friend! I thought that might be a helpful tool to slip inside your writer’s toolbox. Please promise me a second run of your novel-as-a-play for me. I’ll bring the popcorn and the velour track suit (but not the padded stomach).

Artfully yours,

Ben

~*~

*Editor’s note: The views, ideas, and opinions expressed in the Letters from Benedict series are works of fiction and obviously did not come from the actor himself. This series is just my way of expressing adoration for Mr. Cumberbatch and his work and is not intended to be taken at face value or seen as a true collaborative writing endeavor with him.

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