×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Benedict Cumberbatch Calls ‘Patrick Melrose’ His ‘Passion Project’

Benedict Cumberbatch has taken on some iconic roles in his career, from Sherlock Holmes to Doctor Strange, but he says his most meaningful might be his latest.

Cumberbatch plays the title character in new Showtime miniseries “Patrick Melrose,” which is based off a book series by Edward St. Aubyn. At the show’s premiere on Wednesday night, he told Variety that the show was “a passion project.”

“These are some of the greatest moments of 21st century prose, and to be a part of dramatizing that is a real treat,” Cumberbatch said of the “Patrick Melrose” novels. “This is a hell of role, and a hell of a stretch for any actor, and a hell of an opportunity for me, and I just hope we’ve done the books justice, so we’ve done something that has the same following and integrity the books do.”

The “Sherlock” star revealed his journey with the project started five years ago, when he said in a Reddit Q&A that he dreamed of taking on the character of Patrick Melrose. Days later, he met with producers and signed on to star, also taking on an executive producer title for himself.

“Patrick Melrose” costars Allison Williams and Jennifer Jason Leigh were also on hand at the premiere, held at the Linwood Dunn Theater in Los Angeles. The five-part series follows the life of Patrick Melrose, who experiences a privileged but traumatic childhood that leads him to heavy substance abuse and eventual recovery in his adulthood.

Leigh said she was a big fan of the books, but “didn’t think it was possible to adapt it, ever.” After reading the script, written by David Nicholls, she said, “it was like the book came to life in such a beautiful way; I have no idea how he did it.”

Executive producer Michael Jackson spoke about the “vision for this [miniseries] that each episode would have its own style, like a small movie.” Jackson also discussed the difficulty of navigating the story’s tone, which flips from dark and heavy themes to comedy in a second, saying, “the big challenge for us in terms of appealing to the potential audience for this show was for them to understand that the tragic and the comic sit side-by-side and are equally important.”

Cumberbatch took the stage ahead of the screening to thank the cast and crew, joking that he “wanted to welcome you to the biggest premiere this week,” referencing the stark contrast of “Patrick Melrose” to his massive “Avengers: Infinity War” premiere that shut down Hollywood on Monday.

“Patrick Melrose” premieres on Showtime May 12.

More Scene

  • Andy CohenThe Shops and Restaurants at

    Andy Cohen to Receive Vito Russo Award at GLAAD Media Awards

    Mazel, Andy Cohen! Bravo’s late-night talk show host is set to receive the Vito Russo Award at the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards on May 4 in New York City. Sarah Jessica Parker will present him with the award, which is named in honor of GLAAD founder Vito Russo. The annual award goes to openly [...]

  • Variety TV Summit Europe

    Variety TV Summit Europe Coming to London on June 13

    Variety’s TV Summit Europe will coincide with London Tech Week this year, returning to the city on June 13. The international conference will be held at the Royal Lancaster and is co-produced by global events company Informa’s KNect365 division, the world’s largest business-to-business organizer. The one-day summit will focus on the intersection of content and [...]

  • David Furnish, Bryce Dallas Howard, Taron

    'Rocketman': Paramount Previews Footage of Elton John Biopic

    “Rocketman” is ready for lift off. Paramount Pictures threw a cocktail party Monday night to preview 15 minutes of the upcoming Elton John biopic, set for release on May 31, at the Troubadour in Los Angeles, the legendary rock club where John made his U.S. debut nearly 50 years ago. The footage featured pieces of [...]

  • The CalArts REDCAT Gala 2019 Honoring

    Pixar's Pete Docter Honored at CalArts REDCAT Gala

    Pixar’s Pete Docter reminisced about his days as a student at CalArts on Saturday night at the 2019 CalArts REDCAT Gala, where he received the Distinguished Alumni Award. For the wide-eyed boy from Minnesota, where life was more routine, attending CalArts “was a free-for-all. It was eye-opening in a lot of ways,” he recalled. “But [...]

  • Sasha Pieterse, Eli Brown, Sydney Park

    'Pretty Little Liars' Spinoff Unexpectedly Coincides With College Admissions Scandal

    It was a case of art imitating life at Saturday night’s Hollywood premiere of “The Perfectionists” — Freeform’s “Pretty Little Liars” spinoff about a scandal involving college students striving for excellence by any means necessary. The TV show’s debut was coincidently preceded by a real-life college scandal involving Hollywood celebrities who allegedly didn’t let a [...]

  • Keira Knightley'The Aftermath' film screening, Arrivals,

    Keira Knightley Talks 'Aftermath,' Alexander Skarsgård and Another Itchy Wardrobe

    The reigning queen of period pieces, Keira Knightley, knows a thing or two about historical clothing. “Lining. Lining is always important,” the Oscar-nominated actress playfully advised on Wednesday at the premiere of her post-WWII drama “Aftermath.” “If you get a lot of itchy stuff always put lining in it. I have learned that from having [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content