Benedict Cumberbatch Remembers Filming With Robert Downey Jr For The Avengers And Nailing ‘Emotion’ Onscreen

If you have watched the Marvel movies in order you can see that many characters tend to pop up here and there for cameos or smaller roles outside of their given solo projects. Those moments for the actors must be difficult because they only have a couple of minutes to act and show character growth. Benedict Cumberbatch, who plays Doctor Strange recently opened up about the challenges of nailing emotion on screen, and how “wonderful” and helpful it was to watch people like Robert Downey Jr. work on these massive films too.  

In huge ensemble movies like Avengers: Infinity War or Avengers: Endgame there are so many characters in the film that it’s hard for all of them to get quality screen time, which means the actors have to make the most out of the few minutes they have. Cumberbatch has been candid about the “mortifying” part of the job, like learning intricate magic moves, and how he finds meaning in his role, even if he’s only in the movie for a few minutes. He told The Talks

You are working to do some of that but in the heartbeat of making a massive film like The Avengers, for example, it can be tough getting that one moment of emotion absolutely nailed in five minutes because that’s all the time they have because of the other, bigger things around it.

Apart from his solo journeys in Doctor Strange and the 2022 film schedule’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Cumberbatch has played supporting roles in the two aforementioned Avengers movies as well as Spider-Man: No Way Home, he also made a small cameo in Thor: Ragnarok. I’d imagine he will appear in roles like this in upcoming Marvel movies too. The actor noted the precision needed to land emotional beats with only a little bit of screen time, he elaborate on this by saying: 

Well, precision is one thing. In this instance, it’s not a massive development of the character, it’s about how to service the story at the same time as balancing the integrity of a now much-loved part of the Marvel cinematic universe. So, I learn on every job. I would like to think I learn. I learn by watching other people. It was wonderful to watch Robert. It is wonderful to watch him, and to watch people who really know what they are playing inside out.

I’d imagine Robert Downey Jr. would be the perfect person to watch and learn from on these films. Considering he’s the one who started it all in 2008 with Iron Man, it makes sense why Cumberbatch admires him and respects his knowledge of his character so much. Much like the Doctor Strange actor, RDJ played supporting roles in MCU movies like Spider-Man: Homecoming, and he was part of ensembles in all four Avengers movies, so he must know from experience how to nail the emotion of a scene even if he’s only in the film for a little bit. 

Along with RDJ, Cumberbatch has also talked about how cool it was to work with actors like Michael Douglas on Avengers: Endgame. He continued to gush about the other actors, saying he enjoyed being in the same scene as Michelle Pfeiffer and Samuel L. Jackson. I'm sure being in that scene with all those legends must have felt like an acting masterclass. 

It’s cool to get an inside look into what it’s like being part of the MCU, especially how hard it can be to act in smaller moments of the films. 

If you want to check out Cumberbatch in any of his Marvel films you can do so with a Disney+ subscription

Riley Utley
Weekend Editor

Riley Utley is the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. She has written for national publications as well as daily and alt-weekly newspapers in Spokane, Washington, Syracuse, New York and Charleston, South Carolina. She graduated with her master’s degree in arts journalism and communications from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University. Since joining the CB team she has covered numerous TV shows and movies -- including her personal favorite shows Ted Lasso and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. She also has followed and consistently written about everything from Taylor Swift to Fire Country, and she's enjoyed every second of it.