Benedict Cumberbatch’s Doctor Strange was unveiled as the official Empire cover star during today’s Empire Live event in London (see the magical one-sheet below), but according to the good doctor himself, he almost missed out on the role of Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme.
Director Scott Derrickson has stressed before that the Sherlock star was the only actor “seriously considered” to don that dashing cape, but due to his commitment to playing Hamlet in London’s Barbican, Derrickson and the Powers That Be at Marvel were forced into drafting up a contingency plan. That was around this time last year, when the director held talks with Joaquin Phoenix, Ryan Gosling and even Suicide Squad‘s Jared Leto, before ultimately circling back to Cumberbatch after head honcho Kevin Feige ruled, “it’s got to be Benedict.”
Back then, Cumberbatch genuinely believed the Doctor Strange role had slipped between his fingers, 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 fulfil their faith in me.”
A close call, then, but early trailers and clips have showcased just how well Cumberbatch has taken to the role. We’ll discover if Feige’s vote of confidence pays off come November, when Strange will be flanked by Chiwetel Ejiofor (Baron Karl Mordo), Tilda Swinton (The Ancient One) and Benedict Wong (Wong).
Doctor Strange is due to arrive on November 4.