Benedict Cumberbatch got an early birthday surprise Thursday morning. Following some time in New Zealand working on the next “Hobbit” film, the British actor, who turns 37 Friday, was on his way from a “Star Trek: Into Darkness” promotional tour in Japan to a friend’s wedding in Ibiza – you know how it is -- when during a brief layover he discovered his phone had been flooded with messages.

Worried something terrible might have happened, Cumberbatch was delighted to learn he had instead had received an Emmy nomination for his performance in “Parade’s End,” the HBO/BBC miniseries adaptation of Ford Madox Ford’s series of famously dense modernist novels.

“I couldn’t believe it. I thought I was hearing things,” said the actor, whose slew of upcoming projects include the highly anticipated third season of “Sherlock,” the Wikileaks movie “The Fifth Estate” and another biopic, “The Imitation Game,” about code-breaking mathematician Alan Turing.

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It’s the second Emmy nomination in as many years for Cumberbatch, who is up against Al Pacino (“Phil Spector”), Toby Jones (“The Girl”), Michael Douglas and Matt Damon (both for “Behind the Candelabra”). “To be in that category, with a list of my acting heroes, is just remarkable. I’m over the moon about it,” he said. Though given his track record of late, they’re probably just as delighted to be in his company.

We talked to the actor about “Parade’s End,” the long-awaited return of “Sherlock” and his air-travel strategies.

How are you feeling?

I’m very, very good. Kind of in a state of shock.

It’s a really heavy-hitter category this year, isn’t it?

It’s proof, as if it were needed, there is a massive influx of heavyweight talent in television. We’ve been having this conversation for the last decade, pretty much -- aptly, sadly to honor Mr. Gandolfini. But since that first series announced the depth and range that television can reach, you’ve got great names that are coming to television.

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I think you’re the only one in your category playing a fictional character.

I hadn’t made that distinction until you said it; I don’t know if that increases or decreases chances. I just hope I can get there because I will be in the thick of filming a real character, a most extraordinary overlooked hero of British history, Mr. Alan Turing [in the upcoming “The Imitation Game”].

You’re doing that now?

I’m about to start shooting the third episode of the third season of “Sherlock,” and after that wraps I go into prep for “The Imitation Game.” And I start shooting in September.

So I take it you’ve resolved how Sherlock will come back from the dead after his fall at the end of Season 2?

Maybe … maybe not. Maybe I’m just a haunting in Watson’s mind.

When will we get to see it?

Hopefully, by the end of the year. I’m really pushing for PBS and "Masterpiece" to broadcast it simultaneously, or at least offer some kind of streaming to people who want to watch while we broadcast it here. It seem churlish, really, to deny savvy “Sherlock” fans, who know how to break code and watch it illegally, to stop us from having an audience in America. There’s a very hungry audience of all ages. Why they should be denied the pleasure because of some odd disjuncture, I don’t know. I’m being very forceful about that and mentioning it in all the interviews. We’re aiming for the end of December or early January, but we haven’t had a date confirmed.

And you just did Julian Assange.