Why Benedict Cumberbatch Is An American Grinch And Not A British Grinch

The Grinch holding a coffee cup and looking grinchy

While he has a major presence in front of the camera, Benedict Cumberbatch has also lent his voice to CGI and animated characters in films like The Hobbit, Penguins of Madagascar and Andy Serkis' upcoming Mowgli. Next up for the actor is his role as the titular character that is cuddly as a cactus in The Grinch. Benedict Cumberbatch will be using an American accent and not his natural British one, which was a choice he made when approached about the role, as he explained:

It was out of the ordinary until they said, 'Oh, could you do it in your own voice?' And I went, 'Oh, right, I have played some other socially awkward, talented, but at times very rude English characters. So now I kind of get why they might want me to do that.' I was really flattered, and then I just pushed back and said, 'It has to be in an American accent from my point of view.'

So this latest depiction of the Grinch wasn't originally intended to have an American accent. When he was approached about the role, the filmmakers wanted Benedict Cumberbatch not so he could create some voice like he did with Smaug, but for his natural speaking voice. Benedict Cumberbatch understood what they wanted from him based on his other work and what they were going for, but he wanted to go in a different direction.

As he told Uproxx, he has played rude and socially awkward characters with English accents before, like in Sherlock, for example, and that seemed to be what Illumination and Universal had in mind. That instinct makes sense given the fact that the Grinch is a rude hermit who wants to ruin Christmas, and the studio knew Benedict Cumberbatch could deliver on that approach.

The actor didn't want to do that though and felt strongly that he should use an American accent instead. As to why he felt that way, Benedict Cumberbatch elaborated:

There were too many questions about this character. Why is he green? Why is everyone else sort-of/kind-of not green? And why has he got fur all over him and why haven't the others? So I don't think he should be English as well, but I thought just not thematically a bad guy. You know?

The Grinch already stands out from the residents of Whoville because of his fur and green coloring. He basically looks like a different species from the Who. Benedict Cumberbatch saw the English accent as just another thing that would have made him different, and for the actor, that would have been one thing too many, so he pushed to use an American accent instead.

Rather than sounding like the stereotypical English villain or some Ebenezer Scrooge-like curmudgeon, Benedict Cumberbatch's Grinch will have an American accent. I'm not sure about where Whoville is exactly located, but it sounds like most of the residents will have American accents based on Benedict Cumberbatch's comments and a voice cast that includes American actors Rashida Jones and Kenan Thompson.

Benedict Cumberbatch's American Grinch squares off this weekend with Lisbeth Salander in The Girl in the Spider's Web and Nazi Zombies in Overlord. The Grinch is tracking at solid $50 million to $60 million, which should be enough for the holiday movie to win the weekend.

Check out our holiday movie guide for all of the movies headed to theaters the rest of this year, and for all the latest in not judging the king of sinful sots by his accent, stay tuned to CinemaBlend.

Nick Evans

Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.