Actor Benedict Cumberbatch may not, by precise definition, be a rising star, as was discussed by the Screen Rant Underground Podcast crew during the Summer 2013 Movie Awards episode, but he certainly is one of the most hard-working and in-demand performers in show business right now. Not content to only steal the show as the antagonist in Star Trek Into Darkness, Cumberbatch will appear in three awards-contenders – 12 Years a Slave, The Fifth Estate and August: Osage County – in addition to voicing and portraying a dragon via motion-capture in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, later this year.

Cumberbatch – who will soon return to the small screen for season 3 of the BBC’s Sherlock mini-series – recently dropped out from the cast for director Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming Gothic haunted house feature Crimson Peak (he’s since been replaced by the Internet’s other favorite English actor, Tom Hiddleston). That news helped to feed the subsequent rumors that emerged, suggesting that Cumberbatch left del Toro’s film in order to make room for a re-collaboration with Into Darkness director J.J. Abrams on the much-anticipated Star Wars: Episode VII.

It wasn’t long after the the reports about Cumberbatch joining Episode VII – which also emerged right around the same time as rumors began to circulate about there being a major Star Wars casting announcement on the immediate horizon – that the actor’s reps issued a public denial, saying that he has not been cast in the film. Cumberbatch was attending the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival this past week to promote Fifth Estate (read the first reviews for the Wikileaks drama), but he took some time to offer his own formal denial of a Star Wars deal (via Access Hollywood):

“This is the simple truth. J.J. [Abrams] and I have worked together before. I would love to work with him again. No offer has been made. That is that. And that is that.”

Bearing in mind that a public denial by an actor or their reps doesn’t mean so much nowadays – Charlie Hunnam’s reps denied that he will play Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey before he was officially cast two weeks later and several of Cumberbatch’s Star Trek Into Darkness costars flat-out lied about the identity of the film’s villain – it’s not unfair to give Cumberbatch the benefit of the doubt for now, if only because he’s already signed on for so many other developing projects (including the leading roles in The Lost City of Z and The Imitation Game).

There is undeniably something enticing about the prospect of having Cumberbatch bring his gravitas to the Star Wars universe, be it while playing a sinister Dark Lord of the Sith (as is rumored), a dignified military commander for the New Republic, or possibly even a Jedi Knight disciple of the seasoned Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill, said to be getting back into Jedi shape for Episode VII). Then again, it could also be for the best if Cumberbatch does not sign on for every other project coming out from Hollywood – lest he become over-exposed – and leave it to some other 30-40 year old thespian to work alongside all the young whipper-snappers who are rumored to appear in the forthcoming Star Wars trilogy.

… But we won’t be so angry if it turns out that Cumberbatch is lying in this case.

Star Wars: Episode VII is tentatively slated to reach theaters by Summer 2015, though it could wind up delayed until the Winter Holiday Season.

Source: Access Hollywood