Benedict Cumberbatch is one of the most popular actors working today. His work on Sherlock for the BBC has made him a global superstar. Since then, he has become incredibly sought after in Hollywood. It was no surprise when the rumors began to circulate that Marvel was interested in him for a role in one of their big tent pole films. They wanted him so badly, in fact, that they decided to shift the production of the film around in order to fit his very busy schedule.
When the casting for Doctor Strange first became a topic of conversation, there were a number of other names -- Joaquin Phoenix, chief among them -- who were reportedly being considered. Now, it turns out that the other casting options were on the table, not because Marvel didn’t want Benedict Cumberbatch, but rather because they weren’t sure they’d be able to get him. According to Marvel chief Kevin Feige, Cumberbatch was in such high demand that it didn’t look like he was going to be free when Marvel needed him. Ultimately, however, as Feige tells Entertainment Weekly, they eventually decided they needed to work around him.
He kept getting more popular, and more popular, and he kept getting busier, and busier, and it looked like the timing wasn’t going to work. So we looked at some other actors for a while and ultimately decided, ‘We have to try and make it work with Benedict and with his schedule.’ Which is why we shifted the production schedule around. He finished Hamlet here in London, and I think had a day off, and then went to Kathmandu, Nepal, to shoot the first day of Doctor Strange.
This now helps to explain why the casting process for Doctor Strange was such an epic undertaking. It’s been nearly two years since Marvel began to go looking for their MCU Doctor Strange and it took them half that time to make a decision. While the Doctor Strange movie certainly promises to be something new and different, the character is not exactly Spider-Man. Casting that role was a cakewalk compared to this one.
Scheduling can always be tough when it comes to in-demand actors. Although, Kevin Feige also makes it clear that Benedict Cumberbatch’s growing star power was not the reason they wanted him. He points out that Chris Pratt was not a star when he was cast in Guardians of the Galaxy. This is apparently why they went looking elsewhere. Marvel didn’t need a star in the role. Marvel has been pretty good at making stars on their own as far as that goes. There was, however, something about the actor that they decided they did need, so it was worth it to work with him.
Are you glad Marvel was willing to work with Benedict Cumberbatch in order to make Doctor Strange? Would you have rather they gone with one of the numerous others that were considered?