There are a limited number of plum roles in the world. For Brit men there are Hamlet and Lear, of course, at the beginning and near the end of one’s career. A certain sort of star pines after a James Bond or an Indiana Jones. By all means Sherlock Holmes ranks up there — Conan Doyle’s genius fictional invention has endless potential. Benedict Cumberbatch has claimed that role (and very well). But Holmes is not his true heart’s desire. Neither is Doctor Strange, another feather in Cumberbatch’s cap. (He even played Victor Frankenstein.) But his upcoming role — as Edward St. Aubyn’s damaged playboy Patrick Melrose — is what Cumberbatch has always wanted to play.
Cumberbatch told Reddit this in an AMA back in 2013 when asked: “if you could choose to be any other literary character in an upcoming role who would it be?” St. Aubyn is a legendary upper-class British writer (Oxford University) with a massive cult following, though he is less well-known in America. Cumberbatch will star as St. Aubyn’s autobiographical creation, Patrick Melrose, in a five-part series being developed now. The series will appear on Showtime. Cumberbatch knows the territory St. Aubyn explores — the actor attended Harrow, a London boarding school that was founded in 1572.