Benedict Cumberbatch tried to change the homophobic views of his fellow students while he was at school.
The actor attended Harrow, where he claims to have witnessed entrenched prejudice against gay pupils.
“In an all-male boarding school, in the olden days, it was seen as being something that ‘just happened’ since there were no girls, so you had a bit of an experience,” said Cumberbatch. “But there was incredible homophobia at my school, to the point where two boys who were caught doing something were literally chased down the street.”
He was 18 when he came across one particularly strong display of homophobia, after two boys “were just discovered in bed together doing something”.
“I was just finishing an essay in the school dining hall at breakfast, and I looked out the window and heard a commotion, a pair of feet scampering by, and then a horde just charging after shouting, ‘W**kers! Faggots!’ and I thought, ‘What the f**k is going on?’” he recalled.
The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
1/11 The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
The role that catapulted him to global fame: As a modern-day Sherlock Holmes in BBC drama Sherlock
2/11 The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch stars alongside Keira Knightley in Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
3/11 The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
Cumberbatch bore an uncanny resemblance to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate (2013)
4/11 The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
As Stephen Hawking in the 2004 BBC television film following the physicist's early years at Cambridge University
5/11 The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
Jonny Lee Miller as the Creature and Cumberbatch as Dr Frankenstein at the National Theatre in 2011
6/11 The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
Cumberbatch took on the role of tortured artist Vincent van Gogh in Alan Yentob's 2011 BBC drama-documentary Van Gogh: Painted With Words
7/11 The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
Benedict Cumberbatch as the idealistic Christopher Tietjens in 2012's Parade's End
8/11 The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
Looking sharp as John Harrison in Star Trek Into Darkness (2013)
9/11 The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
With Adelaide Clemens in BBC Edwardian period drama Parade's End
10/11 The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
Alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor in Steve McQueen's 12 Years A Slave, which won Best Film at the 2014 Oscars
11/11 The many faces of Benedict Cumberbatch
As confectionery millionaire and rapist Paul Marshall in Atonement (2007); Sherlock creator Steven Moffat said he wanted Cumberbatch for the detective series after watching the film
Cumberbatch decided to make a bid to sway the mindset of his peers.
“I asked these kids coming back from the house who were breathless from the hunt, ‘What are you doing, you insane idiots? What the f**k?’" he told The Daily Beast.
“They explained it, and I said, ‘And you’re a Sikh, you’re Jewish, and you’re from Kenya. Do you want to just sit down and talk about the strife that your people have suffered because of your religion, race, creed, or colour? I mean, f**k me! You’ve really got to wake up to the fact that the world is full of disgusting prejudice because we are all different from one another.
“’You have to learn acceptance at this school, and you have to go into the world as a better person, and you have to try and embrace the fact that people are different rather than defining yourself by not being like them. Who cares that they’re gay? You have to coexist.’”
In July 2013, Cumberbatch officiated the gay marriage of his friends, Seth Cummings and Rob Rinder, in Ibiza.
He is thought to tipped for an Oscar for his current role in The Imitation Game, in which he plays Alan Turing, the Second World War code-breaker who in 1951 was convicted for gross indecency over a homosexual act.Reuse content