Benedict Cumberbatch has said he is "devastated to have caused offence" by remarks he made this week on a US chat show. The British star was talking about diversity in acting when he referred to black actors as "coloured".
Benedict has since apologised for his "thoughtless use of inappropriate language", and said he makes no excuses for "being an idiot".
The Oscar-nominee used the controversial term while speaking to TV presenter Tavis Smiley about his belief that Hollywood offers more opportunities for black actors than the UK does.
"I think as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult in the UK, and a lot of my friends have had more opportunities here (in the US) than in the UK and that's something that needs to change."
His overall message was applauded by the anti-racism charity Show Racism the Red Card, but they condemned the star's poor choice of words.
"Benedict Cumberbatch has highlighted a very important issue within the entertainment industry and within society," a spokesperson for the charity said. "In doing so, he has also inadvertently highlighted the issue of appropriate terminology and the evolution of language."
In a statement, the 38-year-old actor said, "I can only hope this incident will highlight the need for correct usage of terminology that is accurate and inoffensive.
"The most shaming aspect of this for me is that I was talking about racial inequality in the performing arts in the UK and the need for rapid improvements in our industry when I used the term. I feel the complete fool I am and while I am sorry to have offended people and to learn from my mistakes in such a public manner, please be assured I have. I apologise again to anyone I offended for this thoughtless use of inappropriate language about an issue which affects friends of mine, and which I care about deeply".