Prior to Benedict Cumberbatch’s casting in the lead role of Doctor Strange (out Nov. 4), several other actors were rumored to be in the frame for the part, including Joaquin Phoenix, Ethan Hawke, Matthew McConaughey, Ewan McGregor, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Oscar Isaac. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige admits the company did consider alternative casting options for the film’s titular surgeon-turned-sorcerer, but not because he had any doubts about Cumberbatch’s thespian abilities.
“He was someone that we were very interested in for a very long time,” says Feige, talking on the London set of Doctor Strange. “[But] he kept getting more and more popular! [Laughs] Which is not [essential] for us. Chris Pratt was not popular when we cast him in Guardians. That’s not a prerequisite needed for us casting [someone]. But he kept getting more popular, and more popular, and he kept getting busier, and busier, and it looked like the timing wasn’t going to work.” So we looked at some other actors for a while and ultimately decided, ‘We have to try and make it work with Benedict and with his schedule.’ Which is why we shifted the production schedule around. He finished Hamlet here in London, and I think had a day off, and then went to Kathmandu, Nepal, to shoot the first day of Doctor Strange.”
To continue reading more on Doctor Strange, pick up Entertainment Weekly’s First Look issue, on newsstands Tuesday, or buy it here.