The Word Benedict Cumberbatch Is Terrified To Say

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch has seemingly done it all, starring as the lead in award-winning films such as "The Imitation Game" and "The Power of the Dog." From Sherlock Holmes to Doctor Strange, Cumberbatch has been in the spotlight a lot. Marvel Studios' president described him as the "anchor" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, per People, especially after the latest Doctor Strange film opened the doors to a new world.

"I'm still surprised at how prominent he has become," the British actor told The New Indian Express last month. "Doctor Strange is such a complex character and it feels like there is so much more to explore with him. He is such a brilliant character and I'm still having a wild time playing him."

The actor considered changing his name to Ben Carlton, as he told James Corden on "The Late Late Show" that saying his full name is like a "fart in the bath." Even fans have fun with saying Cumberbatch's name, as they jokingly (though maybe not in some cases) spell his name wrong in their social media posts, per BuzzFeed. But even though the "The Hobbit" actor has a long name which he can pronounce correctly, he has a hard time saying a much simpler word.

Benedict Cumberbatch mispronounces a common word

Sometimes Benedict Cumberbatch may make you wonder: Is there anything this man can't do? He shocked his Marvel co-stars when they heard he learned to play the violin in one week for BBC's "Sherlock," and can even sing a little as he sang alongside Pink Floyd at their concert. But Cumberbatch does have weaknesses. Talk show host Graham Norton pointed out that he got a lot of requests for the actor to say the word "penguin."

"Apparently, I got [the word] wrong repeatedly in a documentary," Cumberbatch told Norton in 2014. "It wasn't a documentary about said animal. It was a documentary about the South Pacific in general, and now I'm completely terrified of the word. I don't go near it."

The talk show host then played a clip from the documentary for the audience, as they heard Cumberbatch saying "pengwings" repeatedly and "penglings" at one point. "The funny thing is, you don't do this in isolation," Cumberbatch continued. "You have a team of natural history experts, based in Bristol, funded by you, the tax-paying public. It's not just me, sitting there in a booth going, 'I think I know how to say penguin, I'll say pengwings.' It's mortifying." Even worse, the Commander of the British Empire (CBE) was later cast in a movie where he would have to say the word repeatedly again.

Benedict Cumberbatch can't escape penguin-gate

'Tis fate! Soon after the "pengwings" clip aired on "The Graham Norton Show," Benedict Cumberbatch was set to star in DreamWorks' "Penguins of Madagascar" as Agent Classified. In the movie, he pronounced the word right the first time he said it, but mispronounced it all the other times. Regardless, Cumberbatch was the right fit for the role.

"[Classified] was a flat, one-dimensional character and it was hard to figure out in the process of developing the story until Benedict stepped into the role," Tom McGrath, the voice of Skipper, told Roger Ebert in 2014. "All of a sudden, the character sprang to life and became this three-dimensional character. And it really helped me to know who I was playing off of."

The Marvel actor has said the word correctly before, though. In a "The Imitation Game" interview with Keira Knightley, the interviewer shows the two the clip of the documentary. After some hard laughing from Knightley, Cumberbatch asks her to say it and he says it correctly after her. He also said it correctly after Graham Norton said it, exclaiming afterward, "The sense of achievement!" Maybe Cumberbatch will learn how to say "penguin" for good, but fans will likely joke about the moment for many years to come.