Sophie Irene Hunter (born 16 March 1978) is an English avant-garde theatre and opera director, playwright and former performer. She made her directorial debut in 2007 co-directing the experimental play The Terrific Electric at the Barbican Pit after her theatre company Boileroom was granted the Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award. In addition, she has directed an Off-Off-Broadway revival of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts (2010) at Access Theatre, the performance art titled Lucretia (2011) based on Benjamin Britten’s opera The Rape of Lucretia at Location One’s Abramovic Studio in New York City, and the Phantom Limb Company’s 69° South also known as Shackleton Project (2011) which premiered at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Harvey Theatre and later toured North America.
In 2015, Hunter directed the cantata Phaedra in Northern Ireland for the 4th Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival and the chamber opera The Turn of the Screw in Suffolk and London for Aldeburgh Music.
Born on 16 March 1978 to Charles Rupert and Anna Katharine (née Gow) in west London, United Kingdom. She has two younger brothers: Timothy Michael (b. 1981) and Patrick James Simon (b. 1984). Her parents later divorced, and her father married Katharine Alexandra (née Pilcher). She has two half-siblings from her father’s second marriage: Sam Alexander (b. 1992) and Lily Rose (b. 1995). Her maternal grandparents are General Sir Michael James Gow and Jane Emily (née Scott), daughter of Captain Mason Hogarth Scott and Hon. Irene Florence (née Seeley). Sophie is a great-great granddaughter of John Edward Bernard Seeley, 1st Baron of Mottistone. While at St. Paul Girls’ School, Sophie briefly dabbled with modeling, working with photographer Michael Roberts. She later attended Oxford University graduating with a BA in Modern Languages. After earning her baccalaureate, she resided in Paris and studied physical theatre at L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq.
Hunter previously had a long-term relationship with sculptor Conrad Shawcross whom she met while studying at Oxford. The couple split in early 2010.
Hunter’s engagement to actor Benedict Cumberbatch, whom she has known for 5 years, was traditionally announced in the “Forthcoming Marriages” section of The Times on 5 November 2014. On 14 February 2015, the couple married at the 12th century Church of St. Peter and St. Paul on the Isle of Wight followed by a reception at Mottistone Manor. They have two sons, Christopher Carlton (b. 2015) and Hal Auden (b. 2017).
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