Okay, this is going to be sappy, so you’ve been warned.
I look at this photograph and I’m reminded that there’s one other thing that makes Benedict stand out among other actors and celebrities of his generation.
There is a fundamental innocence about him.
I don’t mean that in a sexual sense, although for someone who probably has women (certainly female fans) falling at his feet, he strikes me as being remarkably unassuming about his attractiveness. (Even when he’s been photographed with a girlfriend, I’ve never seen him look smug or act like a lady’s man; he just always seems genuinely happy to have this person, whoever it is, at his side).
Here is a man who has grown up around famous names; walked dozens, if not hundreds, of red carpets; been styled and photographed and interviewed countless times. He’s traveled the world, taught English at a Tibetan monastery, been abducted by thugs and lived to tell the tale.
And yet for all that, he’s remarkably guileless and open and decent. Doesn’t he strike you as being such a decent man?
Someone who sees good in most people in spite of having been stuffed into the trunk of a car and not knowing if he’d make it out of there alive.
Someone who, in the commentary for ASiB, could have taken a joke about Lara Pulver’s nudity (a joke that Lara herself started) and run with it, but who chose instead to steer the conversation toward safer ground.
Someone who sincerely wishes a friend well, even when that friend has taken on the same role in a rival production.
I look at this picture and I see all of this. I see the focus, but I also see that remarkable guilelessness, that fundamental innocence and decency, that essential … unspoiledness, if there is such a word.
Yes, that’s it. He’s unspoiled: by fear or trauma, by fame and celebrity. When he sings, “Come with me, and you’ll be/In a world of pure imagination,” you can really see that this could be close to what his inner life is like: that sense of wonder, of gratitude at being alive and being able to do the things he loves.
And I hope that never changes.
The accuracy of what you just wrote is incredible. He’s genuinely humble and completely unaware of what it is that makes us all love him so much. There’s so much to love and admire about him that it always amazes me when he’s surprised by our attention. This is why I love him.