The bizarre tale came out during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Amidst questions about “The Fifth Estate,” in which Cumberbatch plays Wikileaks hero/villain Julian Assange, the actor described the incident from about a decade ago.
Cumberbatch and two friends were heading back to the set of a miniseries (“To the Ends of the Earth”) after a weekend of diving. They ended up traveling at night through the KwaZulu-Natal region of South Africa and had to stop for car trouble.
“It was cold, and it was dark. I felt rotten. We were wary because that’s a notoriously dangerous place to drive,” Cumberbatch explained. “Then, poof, the front-right tire blows. So we got the spare, but that meant getting all of our luggage out. We were like sitting ducks, adverts for — not prosperity necessarily but materialism.”
At this point, six armed men appeared and demanded money, drugs and weapons from the three travelers. Then, the kidnappers drove away with Cumberbatch and his friends bound in the car — the actor later was placed in the trunk.
The group eventually did stop in the middle of nowhere. “I was scared, really scared. I said: ‘What are you going to do with us? Are you going to kill us?’ I was really worried that I was going to get raped or molested or just tortured or toyed with in some way, some act of control and savagery.”
Fortunately for the victims of this crime, the kidnappers eventually left the group alone in that location. A local man later found and unbound them. Cumberbatch was mostly happy to just be alive. “It really, really enriches your values in life,” he says. “It’s incredibly important.”
It is also a benefit for the whole world that now enjoys Cumberbatch’s growing fame.