Sophie Hunter is an English avant-garde theater and opera director, playwright, and actor. She belongs to an affluent British family. She briefly worked as a model with photographer Michael Roberts in her younger days and relocated to Paris after graduating from ‘Oxford University.’ She then joined the ‘L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq’ to study avant-garde theater. She subsequently trained at the ‘Saratoga International Theatre Institute’ in New York City, under the guidance of American theater and opera director Anne Bogart. She made her TV debut with a supporting role in the detective series ‘Midsomer Murders.’ She also appeared in the historical drama ‘Vanity Fair,’ directed by Mira Nair. Hunter co-founded the theater company ‘Boileroom’ and made her debut as a director at the ‘Barbican Pit.’ She won the prestigious ‘Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award’ for co-directing the play ‘The Terrific Electric.’ She has produced the film ‘The End We Start From’ and has released two EPs titled ‘The Isis Project’ and ‘Songs for a Boy.’ She is married to actor Benedict Cumberbatch and has two sons named Christopher Carlton and Hal Auden. She has a large fan base on social media.
Childhood & Early Life
Sophie Irene Hunter was born on March 16, 1978, in Hammersmith, London, UK, to Anna Katharine and Charles Rupert. Her parents got divorced later, and her father remarried. She grew up in Hammersmith. She has two younger brothers named Timothy and Patrick and two half-siblings from her father’s second marriage. She belongs to an affluent British family. Her maternal great-great-grandfather was a World War I politician, and her maternal grandfather was an aide-de-camp general to the queen of England.
She studied at ‘St Paul’s Girls’ School’ in Hammersmith. She later joined ‘Oxford University’ to study modern languages, with specializations in French and Italian. She briefly worked as a model with photographer Michael Roberts. Gradually, she gained interest in theater.
Hunter relocated to Paris and joined the ‘L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq’ to study avant-garde theater for two years. She then trained at the ‘Saratoga International Theatre Institute’ in New York City under the guidance of American theater and opera director Anne Bogart. Her parents gave her full support to fulfil her ambition of becoming a theater personality.
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In 2004, she made her TV debut with supporting roles in the detective series ‘Midsomer Murders’ and the action comedy ‘Keen Eddie.’ She also appeared in Mira Nair-directed historical drama ‘Vanity Fair.’ Her other notable on-screen projects include ‘The Curse of Steptoe,’ ‘Henry VIII: The Mind of a Tyrant,’ and ‘Torchwood.’
In 2005, she played ‘Ophelia’ in ‘Hamlet’ at the ‘Al Bustaan Festival’ in Beirut. The same year, she appeared in the TV film ‘Friends & Crocodiles.’ She also recorded a French EP titled ‘The Isis Project’ with Guy Chambers and appeared in the plays ‘Silverland’ and ‘Macbeth.’ Although she performed on a wide canvas, theater always remained her first love.
Hunter co-founded the theater company ‘Boileroom’ and won the prestigious ‘Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award’ for co-directing the play ‘The Terrific Electric’ in 2007. ‘The Terrific Electric’ also marked her debut as a director. She also co-founded the ‘Lacuna Theatre Company’ and was the associate director of the play ‘Enron’ at the ‘Royal Court Theatre’ in ‘West End’ and at the ‘Broadhurst Theatre’ in ‘Broadway.’ She was the creative director for the New York City production of ‘Sleep No More’ in 2011.
Sophie became famous for her avant-garde plays. She directed and performed in theater productions all over Europe, North America, and the Middle East. Her experimental play ‘69° South,’ also known as ‘Shackleton Project,’ was a grand success. She also directed ‘Phaedra’ at the ‘Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival’ in Northern Ireland and ‘The Turn of the Screw’ at the ‘Aldeburgh Festival.’
In 2017, she worked as a narrator in ‘Music on the Meare’ at the ‘Aldeburgh Festival,’ alongside Nicholas Daniel. The same year, she was announced as the producer of the film adaptation of the novel ‘The End We Start From.’ She is a respected theater personality with a wide fan following on social media.
She has directed the plays ‘The Terrific Electric’ (2007), ‘Enron’ (2010), ‘Sleep No More’ (2011), ‘The Forgotten’ (2012), ‘Loma Lights’ (2013), ‘The Turn of the Screw’ (2015) and ‘A Celebration of Shakespeare in Words and Song’ (2016).
She has acted in the plays ‘Hamlet’ (2005), ‘Silverland’ (2007), and ‘Macbeth’ (2008). She has performed as a narrator in ‘Music on the Meare’ (2017).
Her notable TV projects include ‘Midsomer Murders’ (2004), ‘Friends & Crocodiles’ (2005), ‘Mumbai Calling’ (2007), ‘The Curse of Steptoe’ (2008), and ‘Torchwood’ (2009).
She has produced the film ‘The End We Start From.’ She has released two EPs titled ‘The Isis Project’ (2005) and ‘Songs for a Boy’ (2011) and has collaborated with Armin van Buuren to release the single ‘Virtual Friend’ (2010).
Awards & Achievements
Sophie Hunter was awarded the ‘Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award’ in 2007.
She was in a long-term relationship with sculptor Conrad Shawcross since her days at ‘Oxford University.’ However, the couple could never make a firm commitment and broke up in 2010. She married actor Benedict Cumberbatch in February 2015. They have two sons named Christopher Carlton and Hal Auden.
She is a close friend of British–Argentinean performance artist Eloise Fornieles and ‘SUNO’ artistic director Max Osterweis.
She has a flair for languages and speaks fluent French and Italian, in addition to English. She also plays the piano and is fond of music. Her other interests include sailing and playing tennis.
She is a collaborating director and dramaturge on marionette and puppetry production at the ‘Phantom Limb Company.’
She was responsible for developing ‘Loma Lights’ in 2013. It was one of the largest public arts programs in New York City.