How Did Busy Benedict Bulk Up For ‘Star Trek’?

Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison in Star Trek Into Darkness

The broad-shouldered Benedict Cumberbatch as John Harrison in Star Trek Into Darkness

Sherlock fans may have noticed that Benedict Cumberbatch’s powerful presence in the new Star Trek movie shows a previously un-hinted-at muscular physique, far from the snarky detective’s hawkish beanpole frame.

And they’d be right to have spotted this, because for a few weeks, during filming, Benedict had the unenviable task of trying to match the height and breadth of his co-stars Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto using just food and exercise as his tools, as he explained to the ITV breakfast show Daybreak.

“Physically and vocally I needed to have a lot of presence, and Zach and Chris are tall men. They’re taller than me and they’re broader than me, and I don’t mean that in a euphemistic sense for them being rotund, they are square-shouldered, big American men.

“So I thought ‘I’ve really got to catch up fast!’ I did a lot of training and I did a lot of eating. By the end I could – and I say this knowing full well if you asked me now I would faceplant – but I ended up being able to do handstand press-ups: Feet up against the wall, lowering my head to the floor and pushing up.

“It didn’t last long, but I could definitely do that for a week or two. I ate 4,000 calories a day for a good two or three weeks. It was a lot of food and I popped up about four suit sizes.”

Yep, that’s how the Cumberbatch measures his own bodily bulk: Suit sizes. Scales are just so… common.

Best of all, when presented with the ever-present bubbling rumor that he might be in line to play the Doctor, should Matt Smith decide to step down anytime soon, he displayed astonishingly deft diplomacy, saying: “Really? Oh no I am not aware of those rumors, other rumors but not that one.

“Let’s talk about Bond. No I’m joking!”

You can watch the whole interview over at the ITV Daybreak website.

Fraser McAlpine

Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.

He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.

Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic

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