You Won’t Believe the Lengths Marvel Went Through to Cast Benedict Cumberbatch in ‘Doctor Strange’

Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe get to enjoy finished products of elaborate storyboard planning and film execution. Behind-the-scenes details, like how the studio casts big-name celebrities such as Benedict Cumberbatch to play Sorceror Supreme Doctor Stephen Strange, aren’t much talked about. Actually, it’s Cumberbatch in particular who has a sort-of Cinderella story withing MCU.

Benedict Cumberbatch beat out these celebrities for the role of ‘Doctor Strange’

Benedict Cumberbatch
Actor Benedict Cumberbatch attends the screening of Marvel Studios’ ‘Doctor Strange’ at AMC Empire | Matthew Eisman/WireImage

Casting of the 2016 film, Doctor Strange, made headlines for months leading up to the premiere. But, Benedict Cumberbatch beat out an impressive list of A-list actors for the part.

Some of the men short-listed were Ryan Gosling, Ethan Hawke, and Joaquin Phoenix. None of the men ever made it into Doctor Strange or any other MCU film as of yet. Phoenix eventually found massive success with rival DC film, Joker.

It’s all for the best. Fans can’t imagine anyone else wearing the Cloak of Levitation or guarding the Eye of Agamotto. Studio executives later revealed, they couldn’t either.

Cumberbatch had a full schedule with these projects

Cumberbatch found success in projects like the BBC America series, Sherlock, August: Osage County and The Imitation Game. The University of Manchester graduate — who obtained a master’s degree in classical acting from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art — perfected his craft in theater.

The actor’s resume covers the gamut from Shakespearean plays to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. At the time of casting for Doctor Strange, Cumberbatch was on the brink of finishing a stage run of Hamlet.

Cumberbatch is the man executives eyed on from the start, but his tight schedule didn’t allow for another big project. The studio moved on to consider the other names on their list. However, something kept pulling them back to Cumberbatch.

How did Cumberbatch end up with the part of ‘Doctor Strange’?

Marvel knows what they’re doing in terms of casting and storytelling. There are no accidents to be sure all of their films pave the way for future connected films. Though Cumberbatch had a full slate, the studio, along with director, Scott Derrickson, made the decision to get Cumberbatch by [nearly] any means possible, according to Collider.

In an unprecedented move, Marvel pushed filming for Doctor Strange to fit into Cumberbatch’s hectic schedule. This decision had a domino effect, meaning shorter post-production time to prepare the movie for its release.

Cumberbatch caught a plane to Nepal 36 hours after finishing his last performance in Hamlet to begin filming Doctor Strange. Since then, Cumberbatch has become part of MCU history, playing Doctor Strange in Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

The fates aligned for Cumberbatch and Marvel’s team-up. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness slated for 2021. This means fans get a lot more Cumberbatch manipulating time and space for a little while longer (thank you).