Benedict Cumberbatch: 5 Things to Know (& 5 More to Love)
HIS ACCENT DOESN'T STOP HIM
When The Imitation Game's Benedict Cumberbatch auditioned for August: Osage County, he had to really play an imitation game – to prove he could play a "regular American guy." "When I read the script and first saw the play, which is a masterpiece, I really wanted it because I loved the play," he tells PEOPLE. "So I auditioned for it and convinced them I was halfway there with an accent."
HE MOVES FAST
Fans of Sherlock may wonder how the actor spits out those lines so speedily. He shares his method: "I memorize them very painstakingly and slowly, and when I have the time. It's just you have to be really disciplined. I try to exercise, stay off the cigarettes and booze and caffeine so this is sort of an equilibrium; I've got lots of good healthy oxygenated blood so I can think fast."
HE CAN IMITATE ANOYNE – REALLY
Proving he can do anything, the actor is a skilled impressionist. "I was at the AFI [Awards] for War Horse with Steven Spielberg which was a very heady moment … and Steven's like 'Come, we've won an award.' And then he was like, 'Hey old buddy, I want you to meet a new buddy,' and Clint Eastwood turns around and goes [slips into Eastwood voice] 'How are you? Nice to meet you.'"
HE LOVES TV
This Brit is Team U.S.A. – at least when it comes to TV and specifically, Jon Stewart. "I love [Jimmy] Fallon; [The] Daily Show. I think he's a genius," he says of Stewart. "All of your shows are fun and spot on."
HE LOVES LOVE, TOO
"It was just a thing of that's what I would have done if I wasn't in this privileged and rarefied position of being famous. I want to normalize that part of my life for both our sanity," the Oscar hopeful says of his engagement announcement to actress Sophie Hunter in November, which appeared in The Times just like a "regular" person's would.
HE CAN MAKE FRIENDS ANYWHERE
Once he gets past being star-struck, that is! Like when he first met Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. "I was just chatting with them. I was just like, 'Am I really sitting next to those two? That's amazing,'" he recalls. "I first met them backstage at a screening in Toronto for 12 Years a Slave. He's just such a nice guy."
If cleanliness is next to godliness, Cumberbatch is angling for sainthood. "I remember to wash before I eat," he says of the constant handshaking with fans. "Let's just say that."
HE'S PRETTY GOOFY
The 38-year-old admits that his origins as a prankster run deep. "At school I would run around with a Dictaphone and make friends laugh," he shares. "And we'd all do sketches where we made fun of teachers and took the piss out of one another. We all played that game as school children do, imitating people."
His fans proudly call themselves "Cumberbitches" and he jokes that you can put "Cumber" in front of just about anything and make it sound as adorable as he is. "I'm drinking Cumbercoffee, I'm eating Cumberfood … You can really do a lot with that."
HE HAS A FLAIR FOR THE DRAMATIC
Pay attention to this revelation, Broadway casting directors: "I was a chorister at school, not a scholar – but I sang in the choir," he says. "I'd love to do a musical. It's top of the bucket list."