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Star gets role in new 'Star Trek' movie via iPhone audition

Benedict Cumberbatch, star of the updated British TV version of "Sherlock," gets a major role in J.J Abrams' new "Star Trek" sequel. How? By creating an iPhone audition.

The great new "Star Trek" star in BBC's "Sherlock." Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Actors are little different from ad agencies these days.

They have to pitch for business. They have to sell themselves by whatever means possible to ruthless, tasteless producers and directors who see them as little more than pretty mouths into which to insert words.

At least that's how it always seemed on "Entourage."

Who can therefore not admire the ingenuity of Benedict Cumberbatch? This fine British actor -- perhaps most famous for his role in the BBC's contemporary version of "Sherlock" -- managed to secure a large role in the new "Star Trek" movie by revolutionary means.

Despite being saddled with the name of a upscale landscape gardener, Cumberbatch had the ingenious idea of impressing director J.J. Abrams with a spontaneous audition filmed late at night on his iPhone.

The home page of the Cumberbatch otter Tumblr feed. Red Scharlach Points at Interesting Things

The way The New York Times presents it, he was in a friend's kitchen and "pretty strung out."

The Times doesn't record precisely whether it was tiredness or pinot noir that caused Cumberbatch's strings to be visible, but apparently his agitation was precisely what Abrams wanted to see.

The creator of "Lost" and other things described it as "one of the most compelling audition readings I'd ever seen." Oh, he was just reading, was he?

Perhaps Cumberbatch used a shaky iPhone camera technique to increase the sense of agitation. Still, he is no stranger to science fiction or science fact, as he once played Stephen Hawking in another BBC movie.

One can but hope that this iPhone audition can be released upon iTunes, so that others can learn what it takes to make it to "Star Trek."

Actually, it would be nice if otters could learn too. You might think I am already a little strung out. However, after he moved to Hollywood, Cumberbatch suffered from quite some online criticism for, um, selling out.

The criticism became so passionate that a Tumblr feed was created -- one comparing his facial expressions with those of an otter.

Now if an otter could get hold of an iPhone, create an audition tape, and get a role in, say, a new Disney movie called "Some Like It Otter," then surely society will have taken an enormous step in the right direction.