What did Benedict Cumberbatch think when he read the script for Avengers: Infinity War (out April 27)? “Well, that’s a loaded question, because I’m not supposed to have read the script,” says the actor, who reprises the role of surgeon-turned-sorcerer Doctor Stephen Strange in the Marvel superhero movie. “But I have. It’s just mind-blowingly epic. What I thought is, this just doesn’t stop. Once it starts, it does. Not. Stop. It’s just this horrible, brilliant, terrifying, at times funny, at times very moving, relentless action. It’s like everyone’s constantly in crisis, and catching up with themselves, and it’s really breathless to read a script like that. This isn’t a slow burn. You’re really thrown in helter-skelter. [Laughs] It’s got a lot of facets to it, but I think the main one for me was just how utterly relentless the events and action were.”
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What do you mean when you say you weren’t supposed to have read the whole script?
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH: Well, it’s not Marvel’s practice to hand around the whole script of any particular one of their enterprises, especially a film as big as this, and as secret as this. I kind of had to have a bit of an overview to understand what I was doing in it. Maybe I’m just a bit more stupid than the other actors involved. I just need a little bit of special care. And they were very sweet, and chained me to something immovable whilst I read it, and unchained me after I finished reading it.
I actually don’t know whether you’re joking or not.
That’s fine, that’s the way I like to play it. I like people not understanding my sense of humor. [Laughs] Yeah, I should have learned my lesson by now that humor never comes across well as written. This will just end up as a Daily Mail headline: “CUMBERBATCH: CHAINED TO LAMP POST!”
So, what is Doctor Strange up to in Infinity War?
And this is where the interview gets dull! Because I can’t really say. [Laughs] He’s pretty actively involved, he’s got quite an important Infinity Stone that’s in his vicinity, and that draws him into the action, as well as a couple of other characters’ plights — and stuff happens. [Laughs] That’s about it! That’s about all I think I can say.
We’ve seen Doctor Strange with Tony Stark in trailer footage. What was it like to work with Robert Downey Jr.?
I got on very well with Robert Downey Jr. He’s the most inclusive leading man, and generous to a fault, and just a pleasure to be around. It’s a very happy set when RDJ’s on it, and that goes for everyone, not just the actors. He’s funny, he’s quick, he’s so light on his feet, such a smart-thinking actor. It’s quite something to watch people like RDJ, who have been doing it so brilliantly for so long, in their prime. It’s a really really nice thing to be on the set, like I said, but it’s a really really lovely thing to watch him work and be part of that work as well.
What is the relationship dynamic between Strange and Stark?
There’s a lot of interesting dynamic. They don’t always attract. So, sparks will hopefully fly, but at the same time, they’re united by a purpose that’s bigger than either of them, so they get their game on, put it that way. But, yeah, there are a few one-liners along the way.
Do you have any idea when you might be shooting Doctor Strange 2?
Not at the moment, no. The masterplan is continually in flux, so it would be out of order for me to speculate.
Watch the new trailer for Avengers: Infinity War above.