Benedict Cumberbatch thought he had lost Doctor Strange role

Doctor Strange

by John Nugent |
Published on

Benedict Cumberbatch is Empire’s latest cover star, to be unveiled later today. But he very nearly never wore Doctor Strange's famous cape – as he and his Marvel masters have revealed in our cover feature.

Cumberbatch was “the only actor we seriously considered”, the film’s director Scott Derrickson says. But the actor had already agreed to play Hamlet in London’s Barbican in autumn of 2015, and Strange was aiming for a summer 2016 release date. It seemed like it wasn’t meant to be. “It just wasn’t possible,” says Derrickson. “To his credit he said, ‘I can’t bail out of Hamlet. I’ve given my word.’”

The director met with “a lot of good actors”, including Joaquin Phoenix, Jared Leto and Ryan Gosling, but eventually he returned to Marvel Studios head honcho, Kevin Feige, and said, “It’s got to be Benedict.”

Cumberbatch genuinely thought he’d lost the part. “I really did think I had to kiss it goodbye,” Cumberbatch tells Empire. But Marvel were keen to keep their man, and so – unusually for a production of this size – the summer 2016 release became an autumn 2016 release.

“If you can’t jump on board when the ride’s going past. that’s usually it,” Cumberbatch admits, “so the hugest compliment they paid me was to come back to me. It motivated me to try to fulfil their faith in me.”

For more on the secrets of Doctor Strange and Marvel’s most mystical offering yet, pick up a copy of Empire – on sale from 29 September. Subscribers will be getting their copies this weekend – join their revered legions by getting a subscription to Empire here{ =nofollow}.

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