Marvel Agreed to Delay Production on ‘Doctor Strange’ to Snag Benedict Cumberbatch
Even from the very beginning — when director Jon Favreau put his reputation on the line to get Robert Downey, Jr. in the original Iron Man movie — the Marvel Cinematic Universe has earned its reputation for finding just the right actors in just the right roles. Sometimes, like in the case of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, the casting is painfully obvious; sometimes it catches you a little by surprise. Who would have known ten years ago that Chris Evans would become the perfect embodiment of Captain America?
Then again, even the biggest movie franchise in the world isn’t above the occasional close call. In an interview with Empire (via The Hollywood Reporter), Benedict Cumberbatch admitted that he thought scheduling conflicts had cost him the titular role in the the upcoming Doctor Strange. The actor had committed to a three-month stage production of Hamlet in London at the same time that production on Doctor Strange was scheduled to begin. Rather than move to his second or third choice, however, director Scott Derrickson managed to convince Marvel to push the entire production back to accommodate Cumberbatch’s schedule. Derrickson says that he met with “a lot of good actors” but that Cumberbatch was the only one that they seriously considered.
Cumberbatch took Marvel’s faith in him as one more bit of motivation to get the character right:
I really did think I had to kiss it goodbye. If you can’t jump on board when the ride’s going past. that’s usually it, so the hugest compliment they paid me was to come back to me. It motivated me to try to fulfill their faith in me.
Admittedly, with Marvel meeting with everyone from Joaquin Phoenix to Jared Leto for the part of Stephen Strange, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which they didn’t find an extremely talented actor to play the role. Still, it sounds like the filmmakers had their heart set on Benedict Cumberbatch from the very beginning; here’s looking forward to seeing that good faith paid off on the screen.