, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Dear Benedict,

In last week’s letter you suggested we should conspire to inspire other people. Clever one, friend. You always have such a way with words. One might think you were the resident writer in the kasbah or something. Go ahead and count me in. You know I can’t pass up the chance to conspire on something, especially when I get to use one of my disguises for the greater good.

All of this talk of conspiring and inspiring got me thinking about other famous people who inspire me and that led me to wondering about that age-old question: If you could invite any famous person to dinner, alive or dead, who would it be?

The Dinner Invitation List (henceforth known as The List) question has always been a difficult one for me to answer on the spot because I’m the kind of person who regards The List like a giant puzzle: Who would strike up interesting conversations? Who would get along with most of the other dinner guests? Who would intellectually challenge (or provoke, as the case may be) each other? Who can do the limbo? Who has the best dance moves? Who is the best at Two Truths and a Lie? And who will bring the best red velvet cake because it’s my favorite?

Tough questions.

I need time to think and plan in order to answer who would make it on to The List. It is not a matter to be taken delicately, especially when faced with the task of resurrecting someone and then imposing on his or her busy post-death schedule with a dinner invitation. You know how resurrected guests can be. One minute they’re all grateful for being raised from the dead and getting a home cooked meal and the next minute they’re moaning about wanting to borrow your cell phone to call their loved ones to freak their freak. I tell you, if I had a dime…

Then there’s the application process for The List, the follow-up interview and the requisite dance routine (costumes encouraged). If the applicant makes it through all that, then he or she will have to play three rounds of Connect Four with my 12 year-old, the reigning champion/savant of the game in the Pacific NW, quite possibly the world. You can tell a lot about a person by the way they lose a game to a kid.

I know, it’s a rigorous, lengthy process, but just because the applicants are famous does not mean they get an automatic invite. I’ve got standards and principles. I’m also generous to a fault, but you know that. Your application passed with flying colors, even with the unicorn mix-up. Some things just don’t translate well across the pond, do they?

Benedict Cumberbatch, Radio Times

Don’t worry, I won’t reveal the details. Just like I’m not at liberty to talk about Matt Damon’s dance routine or George Clooney and Johnny Depp’s tandem limbo try outs or Ellen Degeneres’ Connect Four score or the bonus puppet show performed by the YA author trifecta of John Green/Libba Bray/Maurreen Johnson. Not that any of them have applied. I’m talking hypothetically, of course. The point is I am a regular Fort Knox when it comes to sh*t like that.

So who would I invite? That remains to be seen given the highly confidential nature of the invitation process. I’ll have to get back to you on that. Take some comfort in knowing that when the dinner party does take place, you’ll be in good company.

By the way, I loved your interview in ShortList Magazine and couldn’t agree with you more about the autograph thing. Should you ever locate the writing cave, just leave me with the memory of your best dance moves and a poetry reading or three.

Confidentially yours,



*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 my way of expressing adoration for Mr. Cumberbatch and his work and is not intended to be taken as a true collaborative writing endeavor with him.