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2 YEARS

Benedict Cumberbatch Won Role in 'Star Trek' Sequel With iPhone Audition

Director J.J. Abrams calls the "Sherlock" star's tape “one of the most compelling audition readings I’d ever seen.”

Benedict Cumberbatch UK War Horse Premiere - P 2012
LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

Benedict Cumberbatch's performance as a modern-day Sherlock Holmes on the BBC series Sherlock may have rocketed him the top of Hollywood wish-lists, but the white-hot British actor still has to audition. To land a key role as the lead villain in J.J. Abrams' top-secret Star Trek sequel, Cumberbatch taped his audition with an iPhone. It won him the part.

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In a new profile of the actor in The New York Times, Cumberbatch, who also appeared in Steven Spielberg's War Horse and has two parts in Peter Jackson's upcoming The Hobbit, recalls having received a call last Christmas that the director was "very interested" in Cumberbatch playing a "not-so-good guy," as he puts it, in the sequel. Cumberbatch, who was in England at the time, "begged" his best friend to shoot his audition.

"I was pretty strung out," Cumberbatch said. "So that went into the performance."

READ: 'Star Trek' Sequel Nabs 'War Horse' Actor Benedict Cumberbatch 

It clearly did the trick: A day after New Year's, Cumberbatch received an e-mail from Abrams reading, "You want to come and play?" -- the director's way of telling Cumberbatch he got the part. Abrams tells the Times the iPhone-captured video was "one of the most compelling audition readings I've ever seen."

As for the nature of the bad guy he'll be playing, Cumberbatch's lips are securely sealed: "You could stick a knife in my thigh, and I wouldn’t tell you,” he said.