Apr 17 2013 1:00pm

A Batch of Cumberbunnies: An Explanation of Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sex Appeal

Oh to be the cheek that rests on that hand!Although you’ve likely heard of Benedict Cumberbatch, you likely hadn’t until a few years ago when he blew up on the scene in Sherlock, BBC’s modernization of Sherlock Holmes. As many someones have recently told me: he’s not really all that attractive, and even a little weird looking.

I heartily...agree. He is a little weird looking, but in the best way possible. I don’t think he would be as approachable as he is if he wasn’t slightly weird looking. He also wouldn’t have gotten the roles he’s gotten if he were classically handsome. He’s a damn good actor, and in this case the whole is greater than the sum of his parts. I could also make the point that many female models make their careers being “ugly-pretty,” and plenty of actors make their careers on being just plain ugly, forget the pretty. But what makes Cumberbunnies so rabid about his sex appeal?

Before we delve into that, you should know some Cumberbatch fandom terms. Many Cumberbatch female fans are called Cumberbunnies, a term I prefer over the Twitter handle-turned-fan-club, Cumberbitches, and it’s a term even Cumberbatch has a slight issue with (and shows his feminist leanings), quoting from an InStyle interview:

I wish my 15-year-old self had known about my allure to the opposite sex! It’s flattering, though I do worry about what it says for feminism, it’s quite a perjorative term. Cumberbabes might be better.

Other terms you might hear in reference to Cumberbatch himself are (but are not restricted to): Cucumber-pants, Cumber-otter, Butterscotch Crumplebatch, Bandersome Cumbersnatch, (as you can imagine, there are several “snatch” and “cumber” references that are NSFW so I will preserve your sensibilities and not include those in the list, but allow your mind to wander for a moment and you’ll have a good laugh), and in light of his recent turn as Smaug the Dragon in The Hobbit, Benedragon Cumbersmaug. A hat tip must go to my most excellent friend, Angie Barry, a blogger at our sister-site Criminal Element, for both the ideas for his nicknames and aiding me in this forthcoming list.

So besides the endless list of naughty nicknames you can give the wonderful Benedict, there are other decent reasons to love him—both physical and personality/talent-based:

1. He has the voice of “a jaguar hiding in a cello:“

That beautifully accurate descriptor was coined by The Times’ Caitlin Moran and a never-more perfect description has ever been declared for his voice, nor likely will ever be. It resonates, it purrs, it’s as deep as the Grand Canyon and smooth. And, for anyone with an accent-fetish, his accent is undeniably British. Did we mention he was educated at Harrow, one of Britain’s premiere boys schools with prominent alumni including The Princess Bride’s Cary Elwes and Winston Churchill? As his turn as Sherlock Holmes in the BBC’s modernization, Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch along with his best buddy/flatmate, John Watson played by Martin Freeman, analyze some of the most twisted and clever plotlines I have ever scene on television. He is deeply arrogant and proud in this role and his resonant tones could not be more perfect.

Check out this trailer from Star Trek: Into Darkness. He plays a ”Big Bad" but his voice is all good!

2. He gives a good name to ginger men everywhere:

When Benedict Cumberbatch first came to notice we knew him with his floppy mop of dark Sherlock curls, but believe it or not, he’s naturally a ginger—or auburn, which is slightly more acceptable for men. We’ll see him again with his signature curls when he resumes his Sherlock role this winter. In the meantime, he will still sport his short dark hair in Star Trek: Into Darkness for those of you who prefer him that way. As a ginger myself, I typically don’t find fellow ginger-men that attractive but Benedict (yes, we’re on a first name basis, at least in my head) can rock the ginger, as well as any other hair color he chooses to dye his hair. And he has dyed his hair pretty much every color there is and best of all there’s cinematic evidence: bleach blond in his upcoming The Fifth Estate, sandy blond for War Horse and the play Frankenstein, light brown in Atonement, and then of course his dark mop in Sherlock.

3. His eyes…and his legs…and his hands…and his cheekbones…

Okay, we know that the whole is greater than the sum of his parts, but the sum of his parts is pretty epically big (which is why the whole is so great and makes the fangirls squee). He’s not classically handsome, and not classically beefcake-y as we so enjoy on this site, but you could just listen to that voice (that voice!) and watch those lips and look into those eyes and forget for a moment that all together his face might be a trifle long, and his nose a trifle big. Benedict has mentioned in the past that he knows he isn’t classically handsome and he’s always surprised by the avidness of his fans, however those piercing eyes, long, strong hands, and beautiful legs certainly fuel the fantasies of every fangirl (this one included).

4. He’s classically trained and talented to boot:

Anytime someone wants to brag about how fabulous they’re favorite actor or actress is, the phrase “but…but, they’re classically trained!” comes into the conversation at some point. But really, guys…he’s classically trained. He not only got the Harrow training I told you about, but he has both a B.A. and M.A. in Drama and Classical Acting for Professional Theatre, respectively. These aren’t just flimsy bits of paper and simple words to be banded about. He has been nominated for four BAFTAs, a Golden Globe and a Olivier Award for Best Actor along with Johnny Lee Miller for their dual portrayal of Frankenstein and his monster in the stage production of Frankenstein.

5. He’s hilarious:

He’s self-deprecating, willing to humiliate himself for a laugh, does great impressions and is sincere through it all, which is always what sells a good joke. Really, I can tell you how hilarious he is, but this fan video of some of his funnier interviews and talk show appearances can do it better justice. It is my final gift to you and if you have not fallen in love with him by now, I believe there is no hope for humanity.


Jennifer Proffitt is a Midwest transplant to New York City. She spends most of her time reading and writing about romance, but you can follow her other adventures on Twitter @JennProffitt. She works for Heroes and Heartbreakers and Criminal Element.

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1. bet
Sweet report. Just one point. He won the Olivier for Frankenstein. It wasnt just a nomination.

I'd also have highlighted his charisma. That special quality which a lot of actors dont have. he has that on screen and off it. He's a confident alpha male with a tender side which is rather rare these days.

I love his physique and he beefed up for Star Trek beautifully. The arms alone are worth the cinema ticket.

His versatility is key. He can play any type of role. Most actors really are better at one type ie dramatic roles, comedy or action. But he can do the lot.
Jennifer Proffitt
2. JenniferProffitt
@bet, You're right, he can! I had hoped his charisma was implied but it definitely is one of his finer traits. He's just so darn charming!
3. Guest
What a nice write up. I dont know if you can advertise sites but really the place to go for all things Cumberbatch is Tumblr. Its Cumbercity there. The fans are great. Dont expect to see much obvious coverage of the filming of series 3 of Sherlock at the moment under the cumberbatch tag as its all tagged SETLOCK so the fans who dont want to see spoilers can avoid the photos and speculation.
Anyway thank you for the non bitchy write up. Cumberbatch fans get fed up of sites using his name for hits but saying some nasty remarks. This article is a refreshing change.
4. Lisa Rennardo
Ewwwwwww, this guy? Really? Sex appeal? He has all the sex appeal of a dirty diaper. He looks like a stack of curdled pancakes. I actually can't bring myself to watch Sherlock because looking at him makes my stomach heave and turn. And his voice... it's so repulsive. Ugh, he's just so... white. And so unattractive I can't even believe his weirdo fandom exists. He's such a bad actor, how do people like him even get jobs?
Lege Artis
5. LegeArtis
Omg, Cumbergasm post!
Jennifer, I love you!
Jennifer Proffitt
6. JenniferProffitt
@Guest, thank you so much! Yeah, Tumblr is a great resource for Cumberfans everywhere! I'm not on Tumblr myself but I know there's plenty of appreciation for him on there!
Lege Artis
7. LegeArtis
@Lisa- I feel offended because I am part of that fandom. I respect you don't share my oppinion on his sex appeal, but please, seperate people from issue of his sex appeal and don't offend them just because they disagree with you.
9. Cumberfan
Most actors who get to this level of fan devotion really have a well orchestrated pr machine. Benedict doesnt. His fanbase hasnt been manipulated by any cheap pr stunt and I like that. I love how he wins big newspaper polls and beats huge pop groups like 1 direction

Girls save up to go to London and book to see his old theatre productions
in the National Theatre archive facility or head to Cheltenham Literary Festival to see him do interviews or read poetry. Or even turn up at play readings to see him in Look Back in Anger. If nothing else being a fan of his is very educational.

I think he's endlessly fascinating and hasnt put a foot wrong with his career.I enjoy reading when fans work back through his back catalogue and start gushing over an old series he's been in. As somone whose loved him since Hawking I'm thrilled people are finally appreciating him.

Yes I concur with the earlier poster - thank you for this postive article.
Heather Waters
10. HeatherWaters
Such a fun post! Glad it's getting such passionate responses!

You're all so great about keeping things respectful, so let's please keep that up.
11. Oleana
#4. Lisa - are you sure your not a failed actor who lost out to Cumberbatch in an audition. ha. If not then you really are rather rotten to the core. If not ugly on the outside YOU Lisa must surely be very ugly on the inside.
Jennifer Proffitt
13. JenniferProffitt
Hi, everyone, thanks for the comments! I love that you love him (or hate him!) either way it takes a pretty powerful person to create such polarizing opinions. Please remember to keep it positive, however distasteful my opinion or anyone else's might be to you. After all WWBD? (What Would Benedict Do?)

@Cumberfan, I also like how he seems to have built this on his own steam. He's incredibly talented, but through it all seems to have stayed very positive and humble. I'm glad that you liked my post!

@Minime, I'm a huge fan of him in Sherlock. It is the caliber to which I gauge every other incarnation of Sherlock Holmes from now on!
Kelley Anderson
14. luvthekellster
Yeah I have to admit I love this dude and his silly face. Definitely wouldn't kick him out of bed.. lol. He just seems really approachable to me.. I LOVE him as Sherlock, second only to the movies which I am hardcore obsessed with. But as far as a tv show I think its awesome, despite my limited exposure to it, and he is fantastic. The Brits know how to make good tv, and like I said.. definitely would not have an issue partaking in the sex appeal of Mr. Cumberbatch.
Jennifer Proffitt
15. JenniferProffitt
@luvthekellster: "Partaking in the sex appeal"—hilarious! It makes you sound like you want to take a bite out of him, which I think most of his Cumberbunnies certainly wouldn't mind doing! *wiggles eybrows suggestively*
16. Brode
Great article. I love me some Cumberbatch. Dont just watch the Tv stuff. Look up the film Third Star. His performance in that is astounding. You will cry though.

Its about time he did some photoshoots.

He has a good heart and is a passionate actor. Thats an intoxicating mix.
Megan Wilson
17. megewils
He is fantasitic. His acting. His eyes. Those long fingers. That voice (GOD THAT VOICE). If you want to hear something utterly fantastic and mind-blowing, listen to him reading poetry (yes poetry). Swoon!
Megan Wilson
18. megewils
@Brode... he has done various photoshoots over the years. Marie Claire, Radio Times, The Guardian, as well as others. You can google them (or even search images) and see them.

I think part of his appeal is that he comes across as a genuine good guy.

Plus those cheekbones (From A Scandal in Belgravia: Irene Adler: Look at those cheekbones. I could cut myself slapping that face. Would you like me to try?). I would. :-)
Jennifer Proffitt
19. JenniferProffitt
@megewils: such a good quote from that episode and such a great episode in general! And listening to him read is like porn for bibliophiles! I agree about his appeal starting with the fact that he seems like a good guy and as @bet said his charisma--there's just something about him!

@Brode, the photo at the top of this post is from a Marie Claire UK shoot, and here's another one from that issue (seriously, what an impeccable profile!) and he has been in a lot, just not a whole bunch in the States, but he was also in GQ so there's hope!:

20. wsl0612
I saw the first episode of Sherlock and just didn't get it, I can't pinpoint it, but I wasn't feeling the love for his portrayal. I didn't find him attractive in that viewing but I must say those are some beautiful photos posted above. I haven't really seen him in anything else, haven't made a point of looking out for him really, but I will see him in the Star Trek film, so maybe I'll become a Cumberbunny too :-)
Although I kind of want to be a bludbunny, heheh.
Jennifer Proffitt
21. JenniferProffitt
lol @wsl0612! I think after Star Trek you might change your mind but that might just be the Cumberbunny in me talking! If you're not sure about Cumberbatch, you might like to try similar actors that you can glom onto: Matt Smith (Doctor Who--weird looking but infinitely charismatic too!), Tom Hiddleston (who I feel needs no introduction, really, but has a similar sense of humor, takes on similar roles), and Eddie Redmayne (Les Mis--he's kind of "model pretty" but a little weird looking too and a very good actor IMO).

Even if none of these actors appeal to you, and even if you don't become a Cumberbunny after Star Trek, he is just very interesting to look at and listen to (he's done audiobooks/readings!) so I'd say keep trying him :)
22. Laura S.
I discovered Benny in 'Amazing Grace' with Ioan Gruffudd and Romola Garai in 2007. He played William Pitt and I found him dreamy. *swoon* Later on that year he was in Atonement...a rather skeevy character, but it's still him. I've been obsessed since. :)
23. JPerceval
Two quotes attributed to Benedict that made me a bunny for life:

"I can feel infinitely alive curled up on the sofa reading a book."


“I’m always cast as sort of slightly wan, ethereal, troubled, intellectuals or physically ambivalent bad lovers. I’m here to tell you I’m quite the opposite in real life. I’m a f***ing fantastic lover.”

24. wsl0612
@JP - thanks for giving me a good chuckle this morning! I got this great image of someone interviewing Benedict and him giving that last quote, then said interviewer falling off her chair :-> Actually it would work well with a View type panel of interviewers, where one is fanning herself (Oh Lordy), one falls off the chair and the another just pretty much leaps on him!
25. Salome121
Is that Tom Hardy he's talking to at the table in that video??? Talk about strange-looking but incredibly sexy Star Trek villains!
Jennifer Proffitt
26. JenniferProffitt
@wsl0612, haha, what a great image! I love those quotes from @JP, I'd like to find out about the latter *wink wink, nudge nudge*

@Salome121, Yes it is Tom Hardy! It's from an interview they did back a few years ago for a movie called Stuart: A Life Backwards
27. LTB
I agree with all the wonderful things you've said about the glorious Benedict Cumberbatch, and would like to add just one more thing. Where I'm concerned, what truly fascinates me about this man is that formidable intelligence which lights up his compelling eyes and resonates in that enthralling voice. Benedict is a man who will always be infinitely more intriguing than merely handsome men because what makes him fascinating is the depth of his character, the breadth of his mind, and the charm of his personality - those are things that shall never fade, and rather, will only get better with time.

And yes, I could happily listen to him read Shakespeare, Byron, and Rilke all day, and every day. His voice is music in itself.
28. Misty.Teal
absolutely true!
I can't help wishing him all good things possible.
I always imagine he is like the role Christopher in Parade's End personally.
Jennifer Proffitt
29. JenniferProffitt
Thanks @Misty.Teal! That's the blond Cumberbatch we don't see very often! Why does he look so good in period clothing!
30. Veganerdgirl
Benedict is a shining example of "intelligence is sexy". And for the love of God, somebody needs to contract him to narrate Halequin novels. He positively exudes raw sexuality but in a rather subtle way, which makes him all the more appealing.
Jennifer Proffitt
31. JenniferProffitt
@Veganerdgirl, that's one of the reasons I love him. Seriously his voice gives me chills (except when he does an American accent because then he just sounds weird and his voices gets higher...). Have you ever listened to him narrate children's books? Fellow H&Her, Christopher Morgan shared a video with me Cumberbatch's narration. It was lovely :)
32. Christine d'Abo
Did you know that there was a deleted shower scene of him from Star Trek?? They just released it today.

You're welcome. :)
Jennifer Proffitt
33. JenniferProffitt
@Christine d'Abo: I just literally shouted (in my head of course because I'm at work) OH MY GOD. The second I opened that link. THANK YOU!!
34. Susan Mac Nicol
Ladies I am a Cumberbitch or what is called a CumberCougar as I'm *ahem* older than he is. I've been a fan for a long time, so much so that my first trilogy of books featuring my creation, actor extraordinaire Bennett Saville, living in London and darling of stage and film, was inspired by the lovely Cumberbatch. I was even fortunate enough to be on a radio show talking about him as the inspiration for my books. Cumberbatch and handcuffs were mentioned in the same sentence which caused the radio presenter to go all aflutter...he is indeed a very inspirational and talented individual and the fact his fandom is so diverse reflects this.
35. Deeroma
I cannot believe I have just found this thread!! I think Ben is totally sexy! I actually haven’t had a Celebrity crush this hard on any one in a long time. He is smart and funny and incredibly talented! Did I mention his voice. I first saw him on Sherlock and that was it for me. Sure, he is not handsome in an obvious way, but for me I totally find him irresistible!!!! Yum-O-Licious

OHH... I just had to post a pic for myself. lol
Jennifer Proffitt
36. JenniferProffitt
He looks so smoldery and sexy in that pic! Thanks for sharing (and finding us!). Here's Mr. Cumberbeard--I do love a man with facial hair. Factor in his great voice and I died!


37. Deeroma
@JenniferP. You are so welcome! I do love me some Ben!!!! Here's another...if i may. I adore that picture you posted.

Jennifer Proffitt
38. JenniferProffitt
@Deeroma: Oh my god, could his eyes bore out from that cover anymore?! I love him a bit rumpled ;) He reallly needs to be less yummy, I can't be held responsible if I ever act on the very bad things I do to him in my head!
39. Deeroma
@JenniferP: I know, Right!!!! Annie Leibovitz was RIght ON with this Photo!! and Yes, you are right... Naughty things indeed!! hehe
Christopher Morgan
41. cmorgan
Hi Everyone,

I'm Chris Morgan, I'm one of the admins here at H&H. I just wanted to let you guys know that I have removed an offensive/derogatory
comment per the request of the site's Community Manager. Should you have any questions about this I would direct you to our Site's FAQ and if there are any other questions, do not hesitate to contact us at
info heroesandheartbreakers com.
43. AR
Benedict Cumberbatch's appeal is not only that he is an amazing actor, but that he is an amazing person. He's kind, intelligent, witty, caring, verbose, likeable. After watching him conduct himself in numerous interviews- after seeing his responses to fans and strangers, after reading accounts of his personal experiences you can just tell he is a good person at heart. He was born with privilege, he has gained more considering his status as a celebrity, and yet he is incredibly humble. Many celebrities today have an air of narcissism and arrogance about them. Benedict doesn't. He is authentic....normal...yet extraordinary. Not to mention, his acting ability in many biopic roles is uncanny. Yeah, there are a ton of talented actors out there.... but none are as talented as Benedict Cumberbatch. People who can pick up on that... who can really tell that he is by far the most talented actor alive today cannot stand but be incredibly attracted to him as an actor and a person.
Megan Frampton
44. MFrampton
FYI, I have removed an offensive/derogatory comment. Thanks for keeping the conversation civil.
45. Penthesilea Greenleaf
What AR said! We share the same birthday, but in different years :)
46. Flash
I'm a woman and I don't get the appeal of Benedict Cumberbatch. He does nothing for me. I'll take David Tennant over him any day. Different strokes, I guess!

Admin, I hope this isn't considered a derogatory comment. I found this article via an unrelated search and just wanted to give my opinio. ^_^
Jennifer Proffitt
47. JenniferProffitt
@Flash: to each their own is fine! We definitely don't take down comments just because you disagree with the post, just when users attack other users or attack the actor rather than comment on characters. Thanks for coming by, Flash!
48. MikaelEade
I LOVE THIS ARTICLE!!! All the things you said are right and accurate also to my point of view. Like many other fans here, I never knew him before watching Sherlock and actually gained to fall for him 2 months later after finishing seasons 1 and 2 last year and watching numerous of his interviews. He's a real sweet heart. Charming and inexplicably talented and brilliant! I cannot stop gushing over him and imagine, I was barely 15 years old when I fell for this man... and I am absolutely proud of it.
Jennifer Proffitt
49. JenniferProffitt
@MikaelEade, thanks so much! I love him too, and I grow to respect him more as an actor with everything I see him in. Not to mention his shenanigans atthe Oscars recently!
51. marykk1960
I agree, there are lots of great actors, but I have never seen anyone inhabit a role the way Benedict does. He puts his entire being into a part. I feel he really is the best actor in the world right now. And he does have a different look, he is absolutely gorgeous. A lot of the "classically" handsome actors seem kind of plastic to me. Benedict seems very genuine and doesn't even think he is attactive, which makes him even more attractive. I am so looking forward to seeing what happens in his career, it can only get better.
52. marykk1960
Just have to make another comment. I do realize this person made their comment over a year ago, but I still have to respond. @Lisa, your comment is just plain rude. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, which is what you stated, but you put it forward as a fact. You not only insulted Benedict Cumberbatch, who happens to be a very nice person, but you also insulted his entire fandom. There are people I don't find attractive either, but I would never go online and put insulting comments about them or their fans. Also, if he is such a bad actor, please explain all the awards he has been nominated for and won. You obviously haven't actually seen any of his work as you state that you can't even watch Sherlock because the sight of him "turns your stomach." If you haven't seen any of his work you have no valid comments to make and should probably keep your rude opinions to your self.
Jennifer Proffitt
53. JenniferProffitt
Thanks for the new pic! Just saw it pop through, sorry for the delay in my response. You always have the best pics!

@marykk1960, Yes, Benedict really can make you believe he's anyone: rapist, rebel, soldier, or dragon he is whoever he plays! It's crazy amazing.
54. AnnMiller66
The man has a virulent and ever-present PR machine - it runs 24/7. That's how he has entered people’s collective consciousness. Without it, he would be simply another good British actor – there are thousands of them. Someone mentioned that he attained his notoriety under his own steam - totally not true and utterly impossible. For the record, cinema careers are very carefully calibrated affairs with all participants actively engaged in an end game. His calibration is particularly intrepid.
55. Benedict Crumbs Erbach
That man is ugly.
56. ElisaC
I think he is so popular with women for these reasons:-

1. His voice - which clearly does something on an unconscious level to women.

2. His voice.

3. The Sherlock character he plays - supposedly a "high functioning sociopath", but who really is more a high functioning autistic, is likewise a portrayal of a man with a Super - male brain - but minus most of the more objectionable traits that tend to come with an extreme male brain. Cumberbatch's Sherlock is really a fantasy: even his flaws are mostly forgiveable - and his "asexuality" only acts as a challenge for women to tame him and get him to emotionally open up. Thus the appeal to older, "successful" or more cerebral types of women who'd like to tame him and get him to be emotionally available.

4. He is arrogant, overly self-confident and brilliant - again similar to the above ' super male brained' type

5. He's clearly a gifted actor who brings charisma to his performances along with believeability.

6. He is tall and dark with chiselled features.

7 . And just one more time: his voice is awesome!

Oh, and for the record: I believe that he is secretly THRILLED by the term 'Cumberbitches' - he was just doing good P.R. by stating that he didn't like the term. I think he is loving the attention. -and good luck to him! Looks like a fun ride.
57. ElisaC
Sorry, with my fourth point I meant to write that the character he plays in Sherlock is arrogant and, overly self-confident and brilliant.

Did not mean to imply that he was.
58. ElisaC
Oops, sorry: scratch the 'brilliant' part off my last post.

He, the actor, clearly is brilliant.

I really should edit before I post....
61. Fucking Hell
Cumberbatch was actually the reason I gave up understanding women. I saw thousands who dropped their underwear just at the sight of him and thought "fucking hell, that`s it, I`m out". I have seen assholes that looked better then that guy, his face is barely human. First time I saw him I thought he was bending over and flashing his ass at the camera. It`s just amazing but I guess it`s the way it is, when you`re famous you get the women. They don`t care if your face looks like a dead horses asshole, when you got the fame and the money you are golden no matter what.
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