Marvel Moved 'Doctor Strange' Back So Benedict Cumberbatch Could Star

Only one man could have been the sorcerer supreme, says Scott Derrickson.
Courtesy of Disney

How determined was director Scott Derrickson to get Benedict Cumberbatch to play the title role in Marvel's upcoming Doctor Strange? Determined enough to convince the studio to shift the movie's release date when the Sherlock actor couldn't make the original schedule.

According to Derrickson, he was convinced that Cumberbatch should bring Stephen Strange to cinematic life early on, telling Empire that he was "the only actor we seriously considered." The only problem: Cumberbatch wasn't available.

During the initial production schedule, the actor had committed to play Hamlet for a three-month stint at the Barbican Theatre in London. "To his credit he said, 'I can't bail out of Hamlet. I've given my word," said Derrickson … which meant that other actors were considered for the part, including Jared Leto, who'd go on to sign up for Marvel's competition for this summer's Suicide Squad.

None had quite the appeal of Cumberbatch in the role, however, leading to Derrickson telling Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige that it had to be him … and, much to Cumberbatch's surprise, the studio moving the movie's release from summer 2016 to fall in order to accommodate the actor. (Now you know why Marvel didn't have a late summer release this year, following 2015's Ant-Man and 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy.)

"I really did think I had to kiss it goodbye," Cumberbatch said about the unexpected schedule change. "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."

Audiences will get to decide if he succeeded when Doctor Strange hits theaters Nov. 4.

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