Wednesday is a day that will live on in infamy. Wednesday is the most infamous day in celebrity history since the... last infamous day in celebrity history. Wednesday is the day that Benedict Cumberbatch got engaged to Sophie Hunter — or, rather, the day he announced it in the Times like no one would notice. But notice we did, and aside from all the broken hearts and rivers of tears, some of us are getting very curious. After all, the pair haven't been rumored to be a couple for that long and their relationship hasn't actually been confirmed by them. You know, aside from this whole engagement thing. So how did Cumberbatch and Hunter meet? Unsurprisingly, it was through a movie.
According to the Daily Mail, Hunter and Cumberbatch first met on the set of Burlesque Fairytales. In the 2009 film, Hunter played Annabel Blythe-Smith to Cumberbatch's Henry Clark. However, at the time, he was dating Olivia Poulet, an actress and his college sweetheart. He broke up amicably with Poulet in 2011 and then began dating artist Anna James. Details about Hunter's personal life during this time period are few and far between — at least, in the romantic sense — aside from a relationship with artist Conrad Shawcross that may have ended some time prior to 2005. After Burlesque Fairytales, she went on to do a TV series called Great Performances in 2010 and then directed a series of plays from 2011 to 2012.
So, how did their relationship turn from that of former co-stars to fiancees? That, we still don't know. Their relationship — friendship or otherwise — doesn't seem to have slowed despite the five years between the current engagement and their first on-set meeting and, quite honestly, the pair could have been dating as early as May 2013. They were photographed attending the Hay Festival together, although Hunter's face wasn't shown in the picture.
Publicly, Cumberbatch and Hunter were first rumored to be dating in June 2014 when they attended the French Open together, but the Daily Mail didn't report them to be "officially together" until September. At that time, they were said to have been dating for a few weeks at the most, but their relationship heated up quickly enough that Cumberbatch took Hunter as his date to the wedding of friend James Rhodes. They were even seen leaving the same hotel on their way to The Imitation Game premiere on October 8, 2014. However, the incredibly private couple have usually gone to great lengths to avoid being pictured together even when they're at the same event.
It's quite possible that Hunter and Cumberbatch began hanging out as friends again as early as last year, perhaps started casually seeing each other at some point between 2013 and 2014, but nothing became official until over the summer. Or we're all just slow on the uptake. One or the other. According to the Daily Mail, Cumberbatch flew to Edinburgh to ask her mother's permission for her hand in marriage, which, combined with his old-fashioned engagement announcement, makes his courtship of Hunter the kind of traditional that really warms the heart.
If you want to check out the happy couple's cinematic beginning, watch the trailer for Burlesque Fairytales below. Cumberbatch's engagement to Hunter is like a fairytale come true, after all, even though it might have broken our hearts in the process.