Sometimes it’s hard not to mistake an actor for the character he plays. Like, for example, Benedict Cumberbatch, who in our minds, is basically synonymous with Sherlock Holmes, the mannered Victorian sleuth who isn’t averse to the occasional bout of fisticuffs.
And Cumberbatch himself played perfectly into the Holmesian image a few days ago, when he made a heroic but no-nonsense stop during an Uber ride to interrupt a mugging in progress.
The event took place in London, “that great cesspool into which all the loungers and idlers of the Empire are irresistibly drained,” as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once wrote. Cumberbatch’s ride was just a few blocks from Holmes’ famous Baker Street hood when he asked the drive to pull over. With his intense powers of deduction — or, ok, his eyesight — he had noticed a Deliveroo bicycle courier being beaten up by gang of four men.
According to Cumberbatch’s Uber driver, Manuel Dias, the star ran out of the car at the attackers, shouting, “Leave him alone!”
Up until then, the driver hadn’t realized the identity of his famous passenger, but once he did, he saw how bizarre the scene was. “Then it all got a bit surreal. Here was Sherlock Holmes fighting off four attackers just round the corner from Baker Street,” Dias told the Sun.
Cumberbatch began pulling the men off the delivery driver, who’d been hit over the head with a bottle. They reportedly took a swing at him, but he held them off. Eventually Dias, like Watson himself, also threw himself into the fray.
“I had hold of one lad and Benedict another. He seemed to know exactly what he was doing. He was very brave. He did most of it, to be honest.”
Cumberbatch, while well known internationally, is an absolute household name in England, so it’s hard to imagine the muggers didn’t realize who he was.
Someone: who’s your favorite superhero?
Me: Benedict Cumberbatch
Them: N-no I meant like a-
Me: BENEDICT!!!!!! CUMBERBATCH!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/9KvEvX1880
— ✨T’Kilah BUMPED INTO SOPHIE✨ (@takilah805) June 2, 2018
i'm not saying benedict cumberbatch is an ideal man but benedict cumberbatch is an ideal man
— dani, (@marvelization) June 3, 2018
“They tried to hit him but he defended himself and pushed them away,” Dias explained. “He wasn’t injured. Then I think they also recognised it was Benedict and ran away.”
The actor then asked the rider how he was, and then — in a move more typical of Cumberbatch himself than of Holmes — gave him a hug.
The actor hasn’t given any interviews on the subject, but Deliveroo publicly thanked him. “We’d like to thank Benedict Cumberbatch for his heroic actions,” the company wrote in a tweet.
Thank you Benedict Cumberbatch for your brave actions. Deliveroo riders are heroes – their safety is our priority and any violence against them is totally unacceptable. So on behalf of everyone at deliveroo: thank you. pic.twitter.com/NGCkQB3z7J
— Deliveroo (@Deliveroo) June 2, 2018
But for Cumberbatch, who afterwards explained his heroism to the driver by saying, “Well, I had to,” doing the right thing is no big deal. It’s elementary.