Sun’s sexiest man Benedict Cumberbatch says he is baffled by sex symbol status

But unlike his super-smart detective character, the modest actor hasn’t a clue as to why he has attained sex symbol status.

Despite being crowned 2012’s hottest bloke in Britain and emerging triumphant again in our poll last week, he says: “I’m still processing this strange misperception.

“I suppose I’ll have to find a way to deal with the strain. I enjoy being considered handsome, even though I think it’s hysterical.”

And while Benedict might not be comfortable with being seen as a heart-throb, he admits that being sexy isn’t bad for business.

He says: “Work-wise, it builds a momentum, which means I’ve got the most fantastic opportunities — or at least, doors open to prove myself at the next level, and that attention has been a huge help. As long as it helps me find good roles, my response is, ‘Bring it on!’”

And the roles certainly aren’t showing any sign of drying up for 36-year-old Benedict.

His Hollywood stardom is now well established. Since he first played Sherlock on TV in 2010, he has appeared in major Tinseltown productions such as War Horse in 2011, last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and Star Trek Into Darkness, which is out next week.

But Benedict is determined to stay grounded. He says: “You need to treat it as a great adventure. It can get quite overwhelming if you start really believing in your own press, good or bad, and you could go a little bit insane.

“As long as you’ve got those around you who are travelling with you spiritually or physically, whether it’s your other half or your friends and family, you’ve just got that base that’s making sure you are checking in with who you are and that they know you’re all right.”

He claims his friends’ reaction to his new-found superstar status has been “interesting”, adding: “I read a piece in The New York Times where James McAvoy was quoted as saying, ‘Oh, Benedict doesn’t need to fear the media or his fans or his new profile. He just needs to fear actors who will be looking at him with envy and want to cut his legs off’.

“Maybe that’s the case, but most of my friends who are actors are just really, really thrilled with what I’ve got. It’s kind of humbling, actually. And it’s nice because I’m not as good-looking as James.”

Modest Benedict has also had to adjust to being constantly spotted on the street.

He says: “It’s a very strange thing. You feel recognised, you feel people looking at you, there’s that whole aspect of it.

“Sort of being on display when you’re not professionally being asked to is very odd. Although it is part of the job so you kind of have to find a way of doing it.”

Benedict grew up in the plush west London borough of Kensington and was educated at £32,000-a-year Harrow School.

His upper-crust background has served him well in his numerous roles in period dramas, such as last year’s TV mini-series Parade’s End and 2007 film Atonement.

He jokes: “My look suits a period drama… although some have likened the shape of my head to that of Sid the sloth from Ice Age.” On top of an excellent education, Benedict has a top-notch acting pedigree as the son of stage veterans Timothy Carlton — full name Timothy Carlton Cumberbatch — and Wanda Ventham. But before he first set foot on a film set, he intended becoming a lawyer.

He says: “My parents worked incredibly hard to give me a very privileged education so I could do anything but be as stupid as them and become an actor.

“Unfortunately I didn’t pay any attention, like a lot of children, to my parents’ wise words.

“I was learning to be a barrister, choosing my A-levels around potentially doing Oxbridge and all the rest of it. But then I encountered loads of other people on the same course who said it’s so much down to chance and luck. And I thought, ‘Well, why am I giving up on my primary dream of being an actor to work doubly hard to do something as an alternative to what I really still want to do?’”

But then Benedict had to break the news to his parents.

He continues: “They wanted me to do a grown-up job and be a barrister but they understood my decision.

“I was at university, playing Salieri in Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus, when my dad told me, ‘You’re better than I ever was or will be. You’ll have a good time doing this. I’m going to support you’.

“It was a huge thing for a father to say to his son. It was very humbling and moving. One of the reasons I get out of bed in the morning and try to do my best each day is to make them proud.”

And luckily, things turned out pretty well for the University of Manchester graduate. He reckons his success is in no small part due to his starring role as the super sleuth Sherlock in the BBC 1 drama.

Benedict is currently filming the third series in London.

He adds: “When people stop you in the street and want to congratulate you on your work and express their joy at having seen you in the show you feel great.

“His appeal is universal. He’s the ultimate outsider hero. He’s a very difficult, odd entity. He’s got a God complex — he suspects he’s not human and therefore everyone else is just a letdown to him.

“He’s repressed his sexual drive and a lot of other things in his life, simply because he doesn’t want to waste his time. The man’s too busy to have sex — that’s really what it is.

“Not every man has a sex drive that needs to be attended to.

“Like a lot of things in his life where he’s purposely dehumanised himself, it’s to do with not wanting the stuff that is time-wasting, that’s messy. That goes for certain relationships as well as sexual intimacy.

“To the Victorian eye he’s an eccentric, but I think he has purposely repressed those things.” Benedict reveals that in the new series — scheduled to start this autumn — we are set to see Sherlock develop into a more compassionate character.

He says: “It’s about him coming to terms with the fact that he can do a better job if he has a little bit of morality, feeling and emotion and to be able to play with those things without necessarily being taken over by them.

“What’s most interesting about him is that it’s all about the game. It’s very apparent in the books that his glee and his joy comes at the beginning of the case and when he’s solved it. The game is on, the hunt is on. He’s an animal on the scent.”

Benedict’s family background – both his parents are actors – helped him win an arts scholarship to Harrow School, where, at 13, he made his stage debut as Fairy Queen Titania in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

His numerous TV credits include Sherlock Holmes in the BBC series Sherlock, and wheelchair-bound physicist Stephen Hawking in the 2004 BBC drama Hawking.

Benedict’s film successes include playing the Necromancer in last year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. In 2011 he played Major Jamie Stewart in War Horse and MI6 spy boss Peter Guillam in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

In the new Star Trek movie, Star Trek Into Darkness, Benedict plays controversial top Starfleet agent John Harrison.

First review: Star Trek: Into Darkness

Benedict Cumberbatch has complained he gets typecast as a posh boy and said he wants to lose that image.

Well, by going boldly into blockbuster baddie territory the man previously best-known as Sherlock has achieved that overnight.

In the second Star Trek movie directed by JJ Abrams, Cumberbatch is Commander John Harrison, a kick-ass killer with superhuman strength.

Rather than examining footprints he is leaping from flying truck to flying truck and shooting up all the supposedly “come in peace” Enterprise types.

It is a performance which could put him in the iconic Brit evil mastermind club, along with Terence Stamp and Alan Rickman. Much of the success of the film is down to the fact you are not quite sure of Harrison’s true motives until two thirds of the way through.

So what about the rest of the movie?

Quite simply, JJ Abrams has shown again why he was chosen to revive the Star Wars film franchise.

He perfectly combines jaw-dropping action sequences with engaging, personal dramas. Chris Pine’s Captain James T Kirk and Zachary Quinto’s Spock turn this into a bit of a buddy movie.

This is a bromance in space.

Fans will be intrigued to see Vulcans can bluff and rocked by a couple of self-sacrifice plot twists.

Karl Urban, as Bones, and Simon Pegg, as Scotty, provide plenty of comic relief again.

The film doesn’t perhaps have as many surprises as the previous one, but being the second best Star Trek movie EVER is no bad accolade.

Near the end, Kirk asks Spock to show him “how not to feel”.

My advice is to open yourself up to the Star Trek universe and enjoy the thrill of the ride.