Why Benedict Cumberbatch almost missed out on playing Doctor Strange

The man who will bring the Sorcerer Supreme to life on the big screen almost didn't get to learn the dark arts.

Empire magazine has a new cover story out on the making of Doctor Strange, the origin story coming to theaters in less than two months from Marvel Studios and director Scott Derrickson. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Doctor Stephen Strange, a role that he seems a natural for, but as revealed in Empire, he almost missed his chance at the part.

It turns out that while Cumberbatch was, in Derrickson‘s words, "the only actor we seriously considered," the highly regarded thespian almost had to pass on the role because of a previous commitment to play Hamlet on the London stage in the fall of 2015. Since Marvel at the time wanted to release Doctor Strange in the summer of 2016, that presented a clear scheduling problem for the film production.

Cumberbatch said that he "really did think I had to kiss it goodbye," and indeed Derrickson met with other actors for the role, including Jared Leto, Ryan Gosling and, most famously, Joaquin Phoenix. But in the end, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige said, "It's got to be Benedict," and the movie was moved to its current release date to accommodate the actor's schedule.

Cumberbatch said: “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.”

Will Marvel, Feige and Derrickson's belief in their leading man pay off? We'll find out on Nov. 4 when he, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton, Rachel McAdams, Mads Mikkelsen and Benedict Wong bring the supernatural realm of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to theaters. Are you glad that Marvel waited until Cumberbatch was able to shoot the movie?

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