Doctor Strange is the next motion picture scheduled to pop up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe batting order, but Benedict Cumberbatch cumbersnatching the role had a touch more drama to it than you might expect.
In a new profile in Empire, it was revealed that William Shakespeare nearly derailed the prospect of Cumberbatch being the lead in the Phase 3 offering. How? Cumberbatch was scheduled to appear on stage in a production of Hamlet at London’s Barbican creating a scheduling conflict with production. Classic Shakespeare, right? Always interfering in our elaborate 21st century superhero movie affairs.
Cumberbatch told the Doctor Strange team that he gave his word that he’d do Hamlet and could have slammed the door on this casting option. According to the piece, stars like Joaquin Phoenix, Jared Leto and Ryan Gosling all met with director Scott Derrickson, but Marvel Studios bigwig Kevin Feige opted to wait for Cumberbatch and pushed back production to make that a reality. It’s a move that Cumberbatch says he’s grateful for. (Considering that Leto was on the list, his co-stars might be grateful too.)
“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,” explained Cumberbatch. “It motivated me to try to fulfill their faith in me.”
Doctor Strange is set to arrive in theaters on November 4 complete with a loaded cast that includes Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams and Benedict Wong. Good luck trying to watch any and all future trailers without picturing how Gosling or Phoenix might have tackled the part.