London-born Benedict Cumberbatch has been working steadily in theater, television and film for more than a decade, but up until now he’s been better known in his native England. In 2004, he won a Best Actor BAFTA for playing Stephen Hawking in the BBC’s Hawking. Shortly thereafter, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art alum began amassing a series of small but notable parts in such critically acclaimed features as Atonement, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, War Horse and The Hobbit. But the 37-year-old’s rise to leading man territory began when he was handed the enviable role of the villainous Khan in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness, followed by the part of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in The Fifth Estate. (In response to the film, Assange wrote an open letter to Cumberbatch in which he slammed the filmed but complimented the actor, stating: “I believe you are a good person, but I do not believe that this film is a good film.”) The performance is already earning Cumberbatch some serious Oscar buzz, though only time will tell whether that comes to fruition. What is a sure thing is the actor’s presence in a slate of this holiday’s seasons most anticipated films, including 12 Years a Slave, August: Osage County and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.