Actor best known for playing Sherlock Holmes on the British crime drama series Sherlock. He also received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Alan Turing in the 2014 film The Imitation Game and he had a supporting role in the Academy Award-winning 2013 film 12 Years a Slave. He later starred in the eponymous role in the Marvel film Doctor Strange.
After graduating as an arts scholar from Harrow School, he spent a year teaching English at a Tibetan monastery in Darjeeling, India. He then went on to study drama at the University of Manchester and he received an MA in classical acting from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
In 2005, he received an Olivier Award nomination for his role as George Tesman in the Henrik Ibsen play Hedda Gabler. In 2016, he played a supporting role in the comedy Zoolander No. 2.
His parents are named Wanda Ventham and Timothy Carlton. He was dating actress Olivia Poulet in 2001 and, in February 2015, he married director and actress Sophie Hunter. He and Sophie welcomed a son named Christopher in June 2015 and a son named Hal in March 2017.
He played a supporting role alongside Keira Knightley in the 2007 film Atonement.