Jessica Chastain Was Approached For A Key Doctor Strange Role, According To The Writer

Jessica Chastain in IT Chapter Two

Jessica Chastain has done quite well for herself over the years, from her Golden Globe-winning performance as Maya in Zero Dark Thirty to most recently starring as the adult Beverly Marsh in IT Chapter Two. As it turns out, she also had the opportunity to star in 2016’s Doctor Strange, specifically as Christine Palmer, the role that ended up going to Rachel McAdams.

This information comes from Doctor Strange writer C. Robert Cargill, who said the following during the most recent episode of Junkfood Cinema:

This is the interesting thing that Hollywood’s starting to find out, is that a lot of the actresses out there want to be superheroes as much as the actors do. I know this happened with Scott [Derrickson]. He went to Jessica Chastain to get her on Doctor Strange, because we were considering her.

For those who need a Doctor Strange refresher course, Christine Palmer (who, in the comics, is one of the women who’s also known as Night Nurse) is a surgeon and Stephen Strange’s ex-girlfriend. While she initially helped Strange recover after his car accident, she left him after they got into an argument where he accused her of pitying him. Strange reunited with Christine after he became a sorcerer, and she saved his life after he was injured during a fight with one of Kaecilius’ followers.

So why Jessica Chastain turn down playing Christine Palmer in Doctor Strange? According to C. Robert Cargill, she wanted to hold out for a meatier MCU role, with the writer recalling:

And she’s like, ‘Hey, look, this project sounds awesome, and I would love to do it. But I’m only going to get one shot at being in a Marvel film and becoming a Marvel character; and I trained in ballet, and I really want to wear a cape.’ And that was the coolest rejection ever. She wanted to be in a Marvel movie, but she wanted to be the superhero, not the badass doctor Night Nurse.

Jessica Chastain has since dipped her toe into the superhero movie pool with Dark Phoenix, where she played Vuk, the leader of the shapeshifting D’Bari who manipulated Jean Grey when she became The Phoenix. Dark Phoenix proved to be a critical and commercial dud, but since it was part of Fox’s X-Men franchise, that means Chastain could still have another opportunity to show up in the MCU at some point.

As for Christine Palmer, for now, it looks like Doctor Strange will be her first and only MCU appearance. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is in the midst of preproduction, and it was reported several months back that Rachel McAdams will not reprise her role. Chiwetel Ejiofor and Benedict Wong, however, are set to return as Mordo and Wong, respectively, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch’s Strange in the sequel.

Right now, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is set for release on May 7, 2021, though due to the COVID-19 pandemic and how it’s affected various in-production, not to mention that Black Widow’s delay could complicate the Marvel Studios calendar, it’s possible that the Master of the Mystic Arts’ follow-up will need to be pushed back. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for updates on that front, as well as if Jessica Chastain gets cast for a key role in a different corner of the MCU.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.