Sophie Hunter

Sophie Hunter

Hunter in December 2014
Born Sophie Irene Hunter
(1978-03-16) 16 March 1978
Hammersmith, London, UK
Education St Paul's Girls' School
Alma mater Oxford University
L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq
Occupation Theatre and opera director, playwright
Spouse(s) Benedict Cumberbatch (m. 2015)
Children 1
Family Julius Drake
Michael Gow
(maternal grandfather)
J. E. B. Seely
(maternal great-great grandfather)

Sophie Irene Hunter (born 16 March 1978)[1] is an English avant-garde theatre and opera director, playwright, and former performer. She made her directorial debut in 2007 co-directing the experimental play The Terrific Electric at the Barbican Pit after her theatre company Boileroom was granted the Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award. In addition, she has directed an Off-Off-Broadway revival of Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts (2010) at Access Theatre, the performance art titled Lucretia (2011) based on Benjamin Britten's opera The Rape of Lucretia at Location One's Abramovic Studio in New York City, and the Phantom Limb Company's 69° South also known as Shackleton Project (2011) which premièred at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Harvey Theatre and later toured North America.

In August 2015, Hunter directed Phaedra and The Turn of the Screw to critical acclaim for the Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival and Aldeburgh Music, respectively.

Early life and education

Hunter was born in Hammersmith, west London[2][3] to parents Anna Katharine (née Gow) and Charles Rupert. The couple later divorced.[4] She has two younger brothers, Timothy and Patrick as well as two half-siblings from her father's second marriage.[5] She is a niece of pianist Julius Drake.[6] Her maternal grandfather is the General Sir Michael James Gow GCB, who worked with Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester in the 1950s and was Aide-de-Camp General to the Queen from 1981 to 1984.[7][8] Hunter's maternal great-great grandfather was World War I politician J. E. B. Seely, 1st Baron Mottistone.[9]

Hunter attended St Paul's Girls' School in Hammersmith before studying Modern Languages with a concentration in French and Italian at Oxford University.[10] After graduating from Oxford, Hunter resided in Paris to study avant-garde theatre for two years at the L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq.[11] She then trained at the Saratoga International Theatre Institute in New York City under theatre and opera director Anne Bogart.[12]



Hunter co-founded the Lacuna Theatre Company, and was an associate director at Royal Court Theatre in the West End and Broadhurst Theatre in Broadway for the play Enron. She is the co-founder and artistic director of theatre company Boileroom, which won the 2007 Samuel Theatre Trust Award for the avant-garde play The Terrific Electric.[13] In addition, she also serves as collaborating director and dramaturge on marionette and puppetry production with the Phantom Limb Company.[14]

Known for her avant-garde plays,[15] Hunter has directed, performed and conceived theatre productions throughout Europe, the Middle East and North America.[16][17] She directed the experimental play 69° South (2013),[18][19] the New York performance art titled Lucretia (2011)[20] based on Benjamin Britten's opera The Rape of Lucretia and the 2010 revival of Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts. She was a member of the performance collective Militia Canteen.[21]

In collaboration with music director Andrew Staples, Hunter directed mezzo-soprano Ruby Philogene in Phaedra (2015) at the Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival in Northern Ireland. The production was met with praise with The Guardian saying it is "exquisitely realized," The Stage hailing it as "creative brilliance," and The Times describing it "astonishing".[22][23][24] She has also staged Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw in Suffolk and London for Aldeburgh Music.[25][26][27]

Creative arts

Hunter worked on the transfer of Punchdrunk's Sleep No More to New York City in 2011 while serving as creative director for the theatre company Emursive.[28] She has also directed the company's theatrical experiences The Forgotten (2012)[28] and Don't Major In Debt Student House (2012). In 2013, she developed Loma Lights (2013), one of the largest public arts programs in New York City.[21][29]


In 2005, Hunter recorded a French-language music album titled The Isis Project in collaboration with songwriter Guy Chambers.[30] In 2011, she released an English-language EP titled Songs for a Boy, again with Chambers.[31] Hunter has also collaborated with Armin van Buuren for the song "Virtual Friend" which was included in Buuren's 2010 album Mirage.[32]

Film and television

Earlier in her career, Hunter has acted in film and television. She has had supporting roles in the television series Midsomer Murders (2004), Keen Eddie (2004), Mumbai Calling (2007) and Torchwood (2009). In 2004, she played Maria Osborne in the costume drama film Vanity Fair starring Reese Witherspoon and played Annabel Blythe-Smith in the 2009 thriller film Burlesque Fairytales.


Personal life

Hunter had a long-term relationship with sculptor Conrad Shawcross whom she met while studying at Oxford.[35] The couple split in early 2010.[36] On 14 February 2015, she married actor Benedict Cumberbatch at St. Peter and St. Paul Church[37] on the Isle of Wight followed by a reception at Mottistone Manor.[38][39][40] They have a son, Christopher Carlton (b. 2015)[41][42] and are expecting their second child, due in 2017.[43] Hunter speaks fluent French and Italian. She is also a skilled pianist.[44]

Selected credits


As director

Year Production Venue Notes Refs.
2007 The Terrific Electric Barbican Pit, London Also playwright [45]
2010 Ghosts Access Theatre, New York City [46]
2010 Enron Royal Court Theatre, West End
Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway
Associate director [47]
2011 Lucretia Abramovic Studio, New York City [20]
2011 Sleep No More New York City Creative Director for co-producer Emursive [28][48]
2011 69° South/Shackleton Project Brooklyn Academy of Music
North American Tour
2012 The Forgotten New York City [28][49]
2012 Don't Major in Debt Student House New York City [29]
2013 Tesla In New York (Concert Performance) Hopkins Center for the Arts, Dartmouth College Artistic Director [50]
2013 Loma Lights New York City [21]
2015 Phaedra Necarne Castle, Northern Ireland With Ulster Orchestra for the 4th Enniskillen International Beckett Festival [51]
2015 Path to Bly Snape Maltings, Suffolk
LSO St. Luke's, London
Co-curated with Andrew Staples for Aldeburgh Music [52]
2015 The Turn of the Screw Snape Maltings, Suffolk
LSO St. Luke's, London
With Aurora Orchestra for Aldeburgh Music [53][54]

As actor

Year Production Role Venue Refs.
2005 Hamlet Ophelia Al Bustaan Festival, Beirut [55]
2007 Silverland Ellen Brits Off Broadway, Arcola, New York City [56][57]
2008 Macbeth Witch Lyceum Theatre [47]

Film and television

Year Title Role Notes Refs.
2004 Midsomer Murders Bella Monday TV series (Episode: "The Maid in Splendour") [4]
2004 Keen Eddie Lois TV series (Episode: "Citizen Cecil")
2004 Vanity Fair Maria Osborne [4]
2004 My Life in Film Anna TV series (Episode: "Rear Window")
2004 Traffic Warden The Girlfriend Short [4]
2005 Friends & Crocodiles Christine TV film
2007 Mumbai Calling Tiffany Glass TV series (Episode: "Pilot")
2008 The Curse of Steptoe Maureen Corbett TV film [58]
2009 Henry VIII: The Mind of a Tyrant Anne Boleyn TV series
2009 Torchwood Vanessa TV series (Episode: "Children of Earth: Day Four") [4]
2009 Burlesque Fairytales Annabel Blythe-Smith [4]


Title Album details
The Isis Project

(written by Guy Chambers)

  • Released: June 6, 2005
  • Label: Sleeper Sounds LLP
  • Format: EP, Audio CD
  • Language: French
"Virtual Friend"

(in collaboration with Armin van Buuren)

  • Released: 2010
  • Song
  • Language: English
Songs for a Boy

(written by Guy Chambers)

  • Released: June 26, 2011
  • Label: Sleeper Sounds LLP
  • Format: EP
  • Language: English


  1. Mosley, Charles (1 December 2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage and Knightage (107 ed.). Burke's Peerage. p. 3680. ISBN 978-0971196629.
  2. O'Neill, Lorena. "Meet Sophie Hunter, Benedict Cumberbatch's Impressive Fiancee". The Hollywood Reporter.
  3. Sykes, Tom (5 November 2014). "Meet the Future Mrs. Benedict Cumberbatch". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Hawkes, Rebecca (5 November 2014). "Sophie Hunter: who is Benedict Cumberbatch's fiancée?". The Telegraph. Retrieved 5 November 2014. ...she is a 36-year-old Oxford graduate...
  5. Mcginty, Stephen. "Benedict Cumberbatch to marry Scots theatre boss". The Scotsman.
  6. "Phaedra Connects the (Go)dots". Irish Examinter.
  7. "General Sir Michael Gow". The Telegraph. 27 March 2013. Retrieved 2013-03-27.
  8. Malec, Brett (5 November 2014). "Benedict Cumberbatch Engaged! 5 Things to Know About His Fiancée Sophie Hunter". E!. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  9. Nelson, Jeff. "All About Benedict Cumberbatch's New Wife, Sophie Hunter".
  10. "Londoners Diary: Off to bed now, Newsnight tells sleepy viewers". London Evening Standard. 5 November 2014. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  11. Thorpe, Vanessa. "Sophie Hunter: the opera director who has to dodge paparazzi". The Observer.
  12. "Sophie Hunter Profile". Chichester Festival Theatre.
  13. "The Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award 2007". The Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust. 15 September 2007. Retrieved 20 February 2015.
  14. "About Phantom Limb Company". Phantom Limb Company.
  15. "The Cumby Show". Vogue.
  16. "What Fame Looks Like Inside a Meme". Vulture.
  17. Jason Zinoman (21 May 2007). "Exploiting a Convenient Truth: There's Profit in Eco-Disaster". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  18. Don Aucoin (10 February 2012). "'69° S.' is entrancing". Boston Globe. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  19. Eric Grode (3 November 2011). "Tale of Antarctic Explorers, Lives Hanging by a Thread". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 November 2014.
  20. 1 2 "Lucretia directed by Sophie Hunter". Location One.
  21. 1 2 3 4 "69 Degrees South Program Notes" (PDF). Krannert Center.
  22. Meany, Helen. "Happy Days: international Beckett festival review – exquisite Britten; comical, otherworldly drama". The Guardian.
  23. Coyle, Jane. "Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival review". The Stage.
  24. Nightingale, Benedict. "Cover your eyes — it's Beckett". The Times.
  25. Diderich, Joelle. "Front Row at Valentino". Women's Wear Daily.
  26. Evans, Rian (27 October 2015). "The Turn of the Screw review – beautifully nuanced and atmospheric". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  27. Fisher, Neil (29 October 2015). "The Turn of the Screw at LSO St Luke's, EC1". The Times. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  28. 1 2 3 4 Gabello, Christopher. "The Forgotten". Interview Magazine.
  29. 1 2 Vagnoni, Anthony. "The Field (social) Taps Immersive Smarts as Part of Larger Offering". Source Creative.
  30. Williams, Kathryn (5 November 2014). "Benedict Cumberbatch engagement: Who is Sophie Hunter?". Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  31. Andy Gill (8 July 2011). "Album: Guy Chambers & Sophie Hunter, Songs for a Boy (Sleeper Sounds)". Independent. Retrieved 21 November 2014.
  32. "Guy Chambers- Armin Van Buuren". Guy Chambers Official Website.
  33. "Why is Sophie Hunter taking Britten's Phaedra to a Beckett festival?". The Guardian.
  34. "Sophie Hunter (UK) Location One International Committee". Location One.
  35. Sooke, Alistair (29 November 2005). "In the studio: Conrad Shawcross". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  36. Williams-Akoto, Tessa (31 May 2006). "My Home: Conrad Shawcross". The Independent. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  37. Fowler, Tara (14 February 2014). "Benedict Cumberbatch Marries Sophie Hunter". People. Time Inc. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  38. Stone, Natalie. "Benedict Cumberbatch: 5 Things You Didn't Know About the Actor". The Hollywood Reporter.
  39. "Benedict Cumberbatch announces engagement to director Sophie Hunter". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  40. Dowd, Katey Erich. "Get the Details on Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter's Wedding". People Magazine.
  41. Leon, Anya; Boucher, Philip (13 June 2015). "Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter Welcome a Son". People. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
  42. Davis, Caris (1 September 2015). "Benedict Cumberbatch and Sophie Hunter Name Son Christopher Carlton". Celebrity babies. Time Inc. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  43. Mandell, Andrea. "Benedict Cumberbatch and wife Sophie Hunter are expecting baby No. 2". USA TODAY. Retrieved 21 October 2016.
  44. "Spotlight: Sophie Hunter". Spotlight Interactive. Spotlight. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  45. "Time Out discovers that with great awards comes great responsibility". Time Out London.
  46. "Extant Arts Company Presents New Version of Ibsen's GHOSTS 11/5-11/21". Broadway World.
  47. 1 2 "Sophie Hunter". Playbill Vault. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  48. "Sleep No More (NYC)". Britt Faulkner.
  49. "Nancy (The Forgotten)". Backstage.
  50. "Tesla In New York" (PDF). HOP Dartmouth.
  51. "Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival 2015". Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival.
  52. "Walk: Supernatural in Suffolk". Aldeburgh Music. Arts Council England. Retrieved 16 November 2015.
  53. "Aurora Orchestra London 2015/16".
  54. "Save the Date for Britten Weekend". Aldeburgh Music.
  55. Emma Whitelaw. "Reworked revenge in Sincera's Hamlet". Indie London. Retrieved 10 October 2014. Another noteworthy performance would be that given by Sophie Hunter. Her Ophelia is most commendable, encompassing every bit the fragility of her heroine’s love-torn heart.
  56. Alexis Soloski, 22 May 2007, Village Voice, London Broil: Grim news for England in Benjamin Davis's eco-drama Silverland, Retrieved 3 October 2014, "...Artist Ellen (Sophie Hunter) muses..."
  57. Zinoman, Jason (21 May 2007). "Exploiting a Convenient Truth: There's Profit in Eco-Disaster". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 November 2014.
  58. Daniella Graham (5 November 2014). "Who is Benedict Cumberbatch's bride-to-be? Everything you need to know about Sophie Hunter". Metro. Retrieved 19 November 2014.
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