The award recognizes a director, actor, writer or producer who has helped to put the international spotlight on the U.K. Paul Greengrass was given the award last year. Previous recipients include Jude Law, Kenneth Branagh, Liam Neeson, Daniel Craig and Helen Mirren.
Cumberbatch’s latest film, “The Imitation Game,” has been nominated in four categories at the British Independent Film Awards: British independent film; screenplay for Graham Moore; actress for Keira Knightley; and actor for Cumberbatch.
Cumberbatch commented: “I am delighted to receive this prestigious award, and would like to thank Variety and the Moet British Independent Film Awards for this incredible honor. It is made even more special by the recognition of ‘The Imitation Game’ in this year’s nominations, a film I am very proud to be a part of.”
Cumberbatch is best known for playing the title role of Sherlock Holmes in “Sherlock,” Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ adaption of the Arthur Conan Doyle books. The role won him an Emmy this year.
So far this year, Cumberbatch has been filming “Black Mass,” playing Bill Bulger alongside Johnny Depp, and Shere Khan in Andy Serkis’ “Jungle Book.” He is also part of the voicecast in DreamWorks Animation’s “Penguins of Madagascar,” which is released later this year.
He is currently shooting “The Hollow Crown” for the BBC and Neal Street Productions, in which he plays Richard III for director Dominic Cooper, and alongside Judi Dench.
Next he will shoot “Lost City of Z,” based on David Grann’s novel for director James Gray, where he will play British explorer Percy Fawcett, who set out to discover the City of Z in the Amazon in the 1920s.
Last year, he played in five films: as the dragon Smaug in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit,” John Harrison in J.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek: Into Darkness,” Julian Assange in “The Fifth Estate,” Charles Aiken in “August: Osage County,” and in Steve McQueen’s “12 Years a Slave.”
Previous film credits have included the role of Major Stewart in Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse,” and Peter Guillam in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”
His other movie work includes “Starter For Ten,” “Amazing Grace,” “Third Star,” “Wreckers,” “Stuart: A Life Backwards,” “The Other Boleyn Girl” and Joe Wright’s Oscar-nominated “Atonement.”
Cumberbatch breakthrough role was as Stephen Hawking in the BBC’s drama “Hawking,” which earned him his first BAFTA nomination. His second BAFTA nomination came in 2010 for his portrayal of Bernard in the BBC adaptation of “Small Island.” That was followed by BAFTA noms for “Sherlock” in 2011 and 2012.
Other TV credits include the lead role in BBC/HBO drama “Parade’s End,” which earned him an Emmy nomination.
In 2011 Cumberbatch played the alternating roles of the creature and Dr. Frankenstein in Danny Boyle’s “Frankenstein” at the National Theatre, which earned him a Laurence Olivier Award.