Doctor Strange is definitely the most psychedelic entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s full of kaleidoscopic visuals as the famed surgeon (Benedict Cumberbatch) becomes able to open new dimensions thanks to some spiritual training he receives in Nepal after surviving a horrific car accident. The Doctor will be central to Marvel’s third phase of storytelling and also potentially receive another standalone film.
Cumberbatch himself was long sought for the role but scheduling provided to be very difficult and forced Marvel to exercise some patience. Well, Marvel got their man in the end and Cumberbatch is perfectly suited for the role. When we got the chance to sit down and talk with Cumberbatch in London to promote the Blu-ray release, Cumberbatch talked about his excitement to become further integrated into the world of the Avengers. You can read the full interview below.
COLLIDER: So Phase 3 of the MCU is very big for Doctor Strange. Can you talk about joining this immense world?
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH: I can, but with no plot spoilers for future things. But yeah, no, what else could I be expected to say except that I’m thrilled. I feel like I’ve said it all before. It’s very exciting, it was great to be in origin film that’s done this well and I really enjoyed playing him, and even with the reshoots we did, it was great fun to put that costume and persona back on again, so I’m very excited to carry him forward. That’s all I can really say today, you know. But I’m genuinely really, really excited. I’ve got a lot of fun to look forward with the Infinity Wars and I’m sure with his own standalone film again.
And I’m sure there’ll be many fun interactions as you join more.
CUMBERBATCH: Yeah, and you get a hint of that, obviously, with the tease during the credits sequence. That was great fun to do, and of the Avengers that I’ve met I’d love to work with all of them, I don’t really have any favorites but they’re terrific actors.
I was actually going to ask, who’s your favorite pre-existing character?
CUMBERBATCH: I’m rubbish on favorites as anyone knows who’s bored themselves by listening to my interviews before, but yeah. There’s a lot of potential fun to have with mixing him into the ingredients that are already there, so I can’t wait.
And Doctor Strange became an Oscar nominee yesterday.
CUMBERBATCH: Yeah! Well, he’s right here, but yeah. Very deserving, SFX Department.
I’m wondering, on set while you’re filming, what did Scott Derrickson do to kind of let you know how the green screens and everything would be filled with these kaleidoscopic views?
CUMBERBATCH: Well, he and Ceretti, Stephane Ceretti who’s been nominated, and I’m so thrilled for him and his team, they really were incredible. They had already done a huge amount of pre-visualization work, which is, it’s a very kind of basic form compared to what the finished product is, but you get an idea of what the environment is you’re working in or what happens to it or you in it, and it’s then about making sense of sometimes very particular, technically accurate camera moves or any kind of framing that goes on.
It’s all smoke and mirrors, all of it. Whether you’re doing something in front of an incredibly realistic backdrop that Charlie Woods might have designed—I mean, he’s another person who I wish would also have been nominated, because you always look at these films as the world that’s created in edits or some kind of post-production or post-the day of shoot environment, and yet on the day there was some sets we were on, like the Hong Kong streets at the end, that was a month’s worth of shooting on an incredible street that was an amalgamation of all sorts of pieces of Hong Kong. It was phenomenal, I mean, it was so realistic, I remember at one point there was a grip who went in to fix a piece of machinery in a machine shop that was just part of the set dressing. These places on set actually worked. I mean, they were extraordinary acting environments where not only you, but also the camera could just spin 360 degrees and you leave the environment you’re in. So that’s a huge help. That’s a huge, huge help. And obviously there were days where you were literally kind of going, I’ve got to step outside this studio because I’ve been looking at green now 360 degrees for twelve hours. But surprisingly, a small amount of that compared to what you see on screen in the end. And Scott, you know, verbally would talk through obviously what was going on with the character, but you know, we had this wonderful attunement as well.
And what was it like filming in Nepal, especially after the 2015 earthquake, which I’m sure made shooting a film such as this a very big deal for the area?
CUMBERBATCH: It was, and for us to be there, and I was kind of—I was very, very adamant that we should, after the earthquake happened that we should still, because by then I was sort of attached to the film, and I said, look, I know insurers will be scratching their heads, but we’ve got to do this. It’s going to give such an incredible authenticity to the opening of the film, but more importantly, it’s exactly the time we should be going to a country that’s been through what they’ve been through, and show the world that they can support the infrastructure of a film like ours, and that it’s a place that’s open for business, and it was incredible. It was so well looked after, it was an utterly inspiring environment to be for the kind of, not just the visual backdrop but the whole sort of spiritual backdrop of this film.
Some of the holiest sights on earth for Buddhists and Hindus and multiple faiths are all there, and to be in amongst that when your character on his last legs bumbling around looking for some answer to heal himself as you see in this film, and then finding something a little deeper was profoundly important and really inspiring, I think, for all the crew to sort of see, okay, this is a slightly different direction for Marvel, this is the kind of film we’re committing to. It was magical, absolute magic, and I can’t wait to go back there, just as a tourist.
Yeah, I would love to go myself.
CUMBERBATCH: Oh, you would love it. It’s amazing place. It’s very special.
In the first film we heard Pink Floyd and Beyonce, what else would be on Stephen Strange’s awesome mixtape?
CUMBERBATCH: It would be an awesome mixtape, I should get Scott on to that, definitely. Oh, I don’t know, I mean, there’s lots of stuff I listen to which he may, he may listen to. I think, you know, Radiohead would feature, Elbow. I’m just mentioning all my favorite bands. No, I mean, if he can go from Chuck Mangione to Pink Floyd, I think you’re covering a lot of bases. It would be a very, very interesting time as a DJ. And why not? Why not?
Give it to Star-Lord.
CUMBERBATCH: Yeah! We should exchange tapes! [laughs]
Give him some new tunes. He’s stuck in the 80s, after all. Get him up to date.
CUMBERBATCH: That is a great idea. That is a great idea. Both Star-Lord and Strange have quite a lot of music going on in their worlds.
Well, it’s a great origin film and I’m definitely looking forward to see what happens next.
CUMBERBATCH: Thank you. Yeah, you guys had such high expectations at Collider, I felt like there was no way it was going to reach Schnepp’s expectations and I was very pleased that he was happy with it. I mean I’m happy with how a lot of people received it, but I’m glad you guys liked it!