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Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch has been nominated for an

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch has been nominated for an Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a miniseries or movie for his role in "Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia." Credit: Getty Images

You probably know the actor, who's shown up in just about everything form “Star Trek: Into Darkness” to “August: Osage County.” But who's the guy he's playing?

To computer geeks and World War II buffs, Alan Turing is a heroic and tragic figure. A brilliant British mathematician, he was hired by the government to help crack the Germans' legendary Enigma codes, and in the process helped invent what we now call the computer. According to lore, Winston Churchill said that Turing made the single biggest contribution to the Allied victory over the Nazis.

That, however, was before Turing was discovered to be gay. In the early 1950s, Turing was not only prosecuted for homosexual acts but chemically castrated as part of his “treatment.” He died just a couple of years later from cyanide poisoning, most likely a suicide. He was granted a posthumous pardon by the Queen just this past December.

Cumberbatch will play Turing in “The Imitation Game,” a biographical drama from The Weinstein Co. The studio has had some major hits with that genre (“The King's Speech,” “Philomena”) and more than a few misses (“The Iron Lady,” “Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom,” “My Week With Marilyn” and Madonna's “W.E.”). Which one will “The Imitation Game” be? The film is due in theaters Nov. 21.

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