By Clark Collis
October 21, 2016 at 04:37 PM EDT

The powers of Benedict Cumberbatch’s titular character in Doctor Strange (out Nov. 4) may be mystical, magical, and even mathematical — but the actor still got in muscular shape to portray the surgeon-turned-sorcerer. 

“One of my friends on the set of Sherlock, she said, ‘Man, you got henched,'” recalls the actor, who shot the forthcoming season of the PBS detective show after wrapping Doctor Strange. “I said, ‘What is that?’ She said, ‘You’re quite buff.'”

So, how exactly did the British actor get in so henched

“The usual boring way,” says Cumberbatch. “You eat very well, you get trained by brilliant people, you work out and you do yoga, you have a physio if you injure yourself, you do stunts, you do running, you have someone editing your diet. It’s all handed to you. It’s not that hard. You just really have to apply yourself. We’re lucky. People would kill for that kind of experience. As long as you do it sensibly, it’s safe. There are good ways of doing it and there are bad ways of doing it. You can do a body-building thing where you’re destroying your body to rip new muscle or you can do it the way I did it, which is quite diligently, over a long period of time, with a healthy diet.”

“I started this training back in the day when I was rehearsing Hamlet (Cumberbatch played the title role in a London production of the Shakespeare play immediately prior to shooting Doctor Strange). So, I’d do an hour [of training] in the morning, then I’d do a whole day on Hamlet, then I’d go home and hopefully see my baby in time for bed,” he adds. “Then, once the show was up and running, I’d be working out in the morning, then going to Longcross [Studios] to rehearse Doctor Strange, then coming back from Longcross to play Hamlet. And Hamlet was like a three-hour cardiovascular [workout]. I don’t think I was in better shape during the film than I was when I was doing Hamlet and training for the film. That was probably when I was at my peak.”

It’s the Shakespeare diet!

“The Shakespeare diet, let’s call it that,” says the actor. “But the Shakespeare diet usually involves a lot of ale [laughs] from past experiences. But it was great. It was the bedrock of keeping me healthy and sane during that time.”

You can see the trailer for Doctor Strange below. EW is offering an advance screening of the film on Friday, Oct. 28 at EW PopFest in Los Angeles — for more information and to purchase tickets, go to

  • Movie
  • PG-13
release date
  • 11/04/16
  • 120 minutes
  • Benedict Cumberbatch,
  • Tilda Swinton,
  • Mads Mikkelsen
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