No Benedict Cumberbatch on 'Sherlock'? Who else could have played the part?

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Benedict Cumberbatch thought about saying no to the lead in "Sherlock."

Let that sink in a minute -- no Holmes as we know him in the updated version of the classic detective story. Someone else could have ended up in the role, and an oddly named British actor might still be relatively unknown to American audiences.

Scary, isn't it? Who else might have played him? And why did Cumberbatch have to consider the offer?

Apparently, Cumberbatch was apprehensive about taking on such a big, iconic role when "Sherlock" creators Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss originally approached him. "My reservation was 'Well, this is a very iconic character, there will be a lot of attention on it,'" Cumberbatch tells  Entertainment Weekly. "This was before I had had any significant success [but] I knew there would still be a lot of focus on it. And while I had done work, it wasn't stepping into the populist limelight like playing a character like Holmes."

Cumberbatch was, however, won over by the passion of the producers for the project and signed on. The rest is history.

But what if history were different? Here are some other actors -- all British, so we don't go too crazy -- that theoretically could have made an interesting Sherlock Holmes.

Jonny Lee Miller: Hey, he plays the role beautifully on "Elementary." Why not on "Sherlock"? While the feel of the show would be different -- and significantly blonder, assuming Martin Freeman still had the Watson role -- this actor could totally do the job.

Hugh Laurie -- Granted, "House" wasn't quite over at the time "Sherlock" began and Laurie is a lot older than Cumberbatch. But the actor is amazing and played the medical version of Sherlock Holmes for close to a decade on TV.

Andrew Lincoln -- We love him in "The Walking Dead" and we loved him in "Love, Actually." Lincoln has also been in a detective series, Britain's "Afterlife." This Sherlock might have been a bit more brooding, but that could have been interesting.

Hugh Grant -- Actually, this probably wouldn't work. You should, however, get a bit of a giggle thinking about Grant's possible interpretation of the detective.

Emma Thompson -- We said we were keeping it British, not male. And Thompson has expressed interest in playing the iconic detective. Come on, she can do anything, so why not Sherlock?

Who else would have made an interesting Sherlock Holmes if Cumberbatch hadn't taken the role? Leave your picks in the comments below!

"Sherlock" Season 3 premieres Sunday, Jan. 19 on PBS.
Photo/Video credit: PBS