Benedict Cumberbatch is the subject of next week’s Empire cover as the title character in Marvel’s Doctor Strange. Subscribers will get an exclusive cover in which the Sorcerer Supreme is joined by Karl Amadeus Moro (Chiwetel Ejiofor), The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), and Wong (Benedict Wong).
Empire promises an in-depth feature article on Doctor Strange in next week’s issue and the magazine has already revealed a few actors who might have been on the cover instead, had Marvel Studios and director Scott Derrickson not rescheduled production of the film to make sure they got their man in Cumberbatch.
Benedict Cumberbatch one of the first names tossed around when the Doctor Strange casting rumor mill began, and with good reason. He was the top choice early on, according to Derrickson. The director told Empire that Cumberbatch was “the only actor we seriously considered.” The bad news, however, was that Cumberbatch had already committed to a run of Hamlet at the Barbican theatre in London and could not go back on his word.
Everyone had to move on and Derrickson took meeting with “a lot of good actors.” Empire lists Joaquin Phoenix, Jared Leto, and Ryan Gosling as some of the alternatives for Stephen Strange. In the end, however, Derrickson told Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige, “It’s got to be Benedict.”
The production schedule was reshuffled to allow Cumberbatch to report to set right after his run in Hamlet ended. The actor was delighted, telling Empire:
“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.”
It’s a credit to Scott Derrickson and Marvel for sticking with the actor they believed was best for the role. Scheduling issues may have forced them to consider alternatives and there were some very talented options on the table, but when they already believed so strongly in Cumberbatch, it was likely difficult for other actors, no matter how great they may be, to feel quite as right for the part.
Based on what we’ve seen of Cumberbatch’s performance in the Doctor Strange trailers thus far, it appears patience has paid off.
Marvel’s Doctor Strange is in theaters November 4.