Cumberbatch to Give Reading at Richard III Reburial

Cumberbatch as King Richard III in 'The Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses'

The Oscar-nominated actor plays the medieval monarch, whose remains were recently discovered, in an upcoming BBC drama.

A member of Britain's film royalty is paying tribute to the real thing.

Oscar-nominated actor Benedict Cumberbatch will be a special guest at a service Thursday, March 26, to rebury the medieval monarch King Richard III, immortalized in William Shakespeare's play. Cumberbatch will recite a poem specially written for the occasion by Britain's poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

Richard III died in 1485, the last English king to be killed in battle on home soil. In 2012, in a dramatic discovery, the king's remains were found under a parking lot in the English city of Leicester. Shakespeare depicted the monarch as a scheming, humpbacked villain primarily interested in power and revenge — think House of Cards' Francis Underwood on horseback — and great actors such as Laurence Olivier, Ian McKellen and Al Pacino have relished the king's entertaining villainy onscreen.

The recovery of Richard III's remains, however, has been accompanied by a public rehabilitation of the monarch and a reexamination of his place in history.

Cumberbatch will play Richard III in the BBC's upcoming Shakespeare adaptation The Hollow Crown: The War of the Roses, which promises a more nuanced depiction of the monarch. Cumberbatch will read the poem, "Richard," described as a meditation on the impact of finding his remains and the legacy of his story, at the reburial ceremony at Leicester Cathedral.

The University of Leicester, whose archeological dig led to the discovery, has also found that Cumberbatch is a third cousin, 16 times removed, of the late king.

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