Maya Angelou once famously said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
I find that to be an apt way to begin this story because of the sweet, intelligent, and passionate mutual friend who decided to give me their time this evening, having agreed to speak to me after our friend gave the person the link to this investigative wordpress effort. The person knows many are questioning why Benedict Cumberbatch would marry someone like Hunter and are vocal about it on social media. This person was apprehensive about meeting me to talk about this, as I was for obvious reasons, but this person is so lovely and kind and has a great sense of humour, I think we’d have become friends had we met anyhow. We were brought together under these very odd circumstances so here we are.
I have their full name, their mobile phone number, and written evidence of highly detailed accounts of Benedict Cumberbatch, his wife, and how she interacts with the cast and crew of Hamlet at the Barbican. For that reason I can confirm with 100% certainty:
- they are who they say they are
- they indeed have the access they claim to have
- the veracity of their claims, for they are risking their career and reputation on the line by pairing such irrefutable evidence of their identity with detailed, damaging accounts about Hunter’s reptutation. Her accounts include names and times and places.
The second way the Angelou quote is apt is how I kept feeling as this person told me story after story about Sophie Hunter’s antics at the Barbican: she has no role in the production. She is merely an actor’s wife. So I will start with what I kept telling myself as I was given this information and what I articulated to this person.
-”So it was all true. We got it right. The perception was reality. I was holding out maybe we had it wrong. I always thought despite the video evidence she could be a kind, decent and humble person but it was all true: she is really as terrible as she appears to be.”
-”Wow she is a piece of work. Wow.”
-”I am glad the stories about Benedict are true: he really is a good guy.”
-”Poor, poor Benedict.”
I did say “poor Benedict” and “I feel so sorry for him” maybe a dozen times throughout the conversation. It was a depressing topic.
We started with small talk on the basics before getting to what this person has seen, heard, and knows, which I transcribe in snippets. I identify this person as X, with me as HHR. I apologise for the snippetyness of this transcription, but I am going off memory. The person has asked some names be redacted, so when I redact names it will have [name redacted] after the replacement identifer.
Those were the two persistent impressions the accounts of Hunter’s behaviour consistently gave off:
- “Pretentious” was the adjective used repeatedly. She consistently displays a pretentious arrogance by foisting her opinions of her husband’s theatre production onto its cast and crew, reminding everyone she has that authority because she’s his wife and an illustrious theatre director (without a work history to back up such claims, as we’ve covered previously on this website)
- She repeatedly emphasises to the cast and crew she is married to him. “Like we get it, you’re his wife,” were my source’s words of the feeling among cast and crew. I asked my friend, is she doing it “to promote herself, as opposed to a genuine love for him and cast off potential competitors?” She said yes.
Without further ado, I present this transcription.
X, about witnessing Hunter’s personality: “there’s been a ton of pretentiousness…she comes in critiquing the production, like ‘The colour palette is all wrong!”
X: “She is nice to the big names but everyone else is…”
HHR: “Small people not worth her time?”
X: “He [Benedict] read that first bad review and was crushed.” X then goes on to talk about her amazement he would read a bad review and the implications it would have on his morale, especially so early on.
X on Benedict: “He is SUCH a nice person. He is a genuinely nice guy. He doesn’t treat anyone differently. And he is so dorky.”
HHR: “So he is really like that? It’s not just an act.”
X: “No it’s not. He is so lovely. And you have to ask how could someone like that end up with her? It’s obvious he would have never settled for her had she not become pregnant.” X goes on to say how easy it is to see they have such different personalities it is obvious it was the pregnancy that tied them together.
X: “Everyone on the production smiles and says “She is so pretty”, “she is so beautiful” [the person mimics the overly nice and over the top way people say it], and they just leave it hanging there with silence as a way to say there’s nothing else nice to say about her.”
X: “She was talking about in terms of relating to Stressed Member of Staff [NAME REDACTED] how much she knew about the production previous to seeing it.”
HHR: “You mean [NAME REDACTED]?”
X clarifies this is another person with this name and not the one I was thinking of.
X: “I think he was asking her how much she knew about how it looked before seeing it and she was trying to sound in the know. [NAME REDACTED] just seemed stressed and kept pushing the lift button.”
X went on to talk about how Stressed Member of Staff would seem nervous whenever Hunter is around.
X on what she witnessed on opening night: “Tim [Carlton, Benedict’s father] refused to talk to her, and kept reading the program to avoid her.”
HHR: “Does he appear to realise what she is like? Or is he in denial or is he okay with it? I always wonder about seemingly nice men with partners like that and why they stay with them and how they rationalise it.”
X: “…maybe he figures it is ‘oh she is a driven person’ but at some point you think he would consider, ‘well maybe it’s just that she isn’t a nice person.’
X: “Oh she is loving it. She is loving the attention that is coming with being known as his wife.”
(HHR reiterates her opinion it has always seemed like it’s the only reason she married him, for the status, and she possibly became pregnant deliberately and told Cumberbatch the child is his for this reason.)
X on the son Christopher: “He is always saying “my boy”. He is a proud father. But he is never tired like someone who gets up in the middle of the night…she and the baby go away each weekend…to give him space.”
HHR: editorial note: I don’t know if the bit about giving him space is X’s speculation or fact. I can ask for clarification when I see X next. I don’t remember X’s next exact sentence after this but she used the words “a disconnect”. She described him as VERY happy to be a father, but there is “a disconnect”.
In discussing how this kid could never have been planned by Benedict.
X, smiling in incredulity: “Of course it wasn’t planned! Who would plan on being a new father when prepping for Hamlet?” (She emphasises the word Hamlet to indicate its reputation.)
HHR: “And this production preceded the baby.”
(I can’t remember whether I said out loud that exactly one year ago no one could ever imagine he’d be married with a kid, with all Hamlet tickets already sold out, but if I didn’t say it, I certainly did think it.)
This is useless information as it’s us speculating and not discussing fact, but for the record’s sake.
HHR: “Do you think he’s had a paternity test?”
X: “He’d be stupid to not have one considering the circumstances.” (X may have said crazy instead of stupid, but it was one of those two adjectives!)
I pose to her the fact she went on that Scottish vacation with her male friends shortly before conceiving and within a month her mother was saying “watch this space”, and asked if maybe her friends and mother elbowed her and suggested, “Hey if you go off the pill and don’t tell him, you can snag him and be set up for life.”
She looks me square in the eye and says, “Maybe.”
X: “She’s a “opera director and theatre director” but no one I know has heard of her. People are asking, who is she?”
X: “She’s a theatre director. There are, of course, tons of theatre directors around the world.”
X: “He was going to come to cast drinks last Friday [Friday 4 September] but she showed up at the last minute and he never came.”
X then shrugs with a look of WTF on her face, indicating Hunter’s control over Benedict is to the extent she stopped him from socialising with the cast and crew by surprising him and showing up without his foreknowledge that evening.
(HHR editorial note: she always struck me as controlling by her red carpet behaviour but this story is the one that really made the impression of the grip this woman has on his nuts.)
HHR, towards the end of the conversation: “Well give her credit where it’s due. She doesn’t pretend to be nice. Her behaviour we’ve seen on the red carpet is exactly who she really is.”
HHR on what some call “the nanny fans”, aka the fans who shower Benedict with gifts and harass and stalk people online who say negative things about him. This conversation comes in the wake of London theatre worker Tim Roberts quitting his job after Cumberbatch’s fans began complaining about him to his work, as well as a Tumblr blog saying Martin Freeman and Amanda Abbington are ruining Benedict Cumberbatch’s life, alongside death threats and photos of weapons.
HHR: “Do you know if he reads what skeptics are saying?”
X: “He doesn’t care but what he does care about are the nannies. He cannot stand them. The gifts and the over protectiveness. He doesn’t want their gifts. He doesn’t want to be protected.”
Other information of note, mostly not related to Benedict’s private life:
-the production did some kind of rehearsal or test run near Canary Wharf. In a warehouse maybe? As far as I know this piece of information has not been made public hitherto.
-Benedict has about a dozen guests each night.
-Everyone in the cast and crew are lovely. The most wonderful group of people you could hope to work with.
-Towards the end when we were walking around Soho and X was telling me how vocal Benedict is about the fans we call nannies, the gift givers and harassers, this person also said that it must piss Hunter off that people are writing of her critically online considering how highly she thinks of herself for “snagging” Benedict (via pregnancy).
And for the record, HHR loved the colour palette of Hamlet.