Home Entertainment BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH ~ Exclusive Interview: Doctor Strange

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH ~ Exclusive Interview: Doctor Strange

by Heather

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Last Tuesday, while in Los Angeles for the #DoctorStrangeEvent we had the opportunity to pre-screen the film in 3D at the AMC Universal CityWalk 19. Popcorn and soda in hand, I settled in next to a couple friends for the movie, and left the screening excited for our interview with the movie cast the next day.

On Wednesday morning, around 9:30, we arrived at the gorgeous Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills. Nervous giggles could be heard as we made our way up the stairs to our meeting room there was discussion of what the cast may be like, the questions that were going to be asked, and constant notes of how excited everyone was to get started.

After taking a few minutes to settle in we were notified that the cast was in the building and we would be beginning shortly with Dr. Stephen Strange himself, Benedict Cumberbatch.

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Now, I have to be honest here in saying I had NO idea what to expect. Going in, I knew two things about Benedict Cumberbatch. First, that he was from England so it was likely he would have an accent. Second, he stars in the television series, Sherlock Holmes; however, I’ve only caught a glimpse of the show in passing. And, that was about it. My first real experience with his acting was watching him in Doctor Strange. That may sound terrible to some but for me it was perfect. I was able to walk into the movie without any preconceived notions and I was able to walk out a huge fan of this new franchise.

Within moments, Benedict was making his way into the room and I found myself smiling from ear to ear and applauding like I was his biggest fan. After seeing the film, it’s likely that I was; he was magnificent. As he settled into his seat and cracked a few jokes I felt myself getting a bit nervous. His accent was adorable and I am a huge fan of accents! The next thing that I noticed was he was rather funny and quite personable. Within moments the nerves disappeared and I felt like I was catching up on an extraordinary story with a friend.

I learned a great deal about Benedict Cumberbatch and his time as Dr. Stephen Strange. Here are some of the bits that I found most awesome!

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GETTING INTO COSTUME ~ BECOMING A SUPERHERO

I felt like a kid. I mean it was just amazing.  It was the first proper moment when I thought, oh my God, I’m actually playing a superhero.  There’s nothing like it and it was very giddy.  It was really, really giddy.  We’d been trying little bits, well actually a lot of the costume on, for something like a month.  We might have even had some tests as well.  There was a lot of the civilian stuff at the beginning, and this was a deterioration of that and his journey to Kathmandu.  And then with the costume proper just very slowly it’s grading up to what you see at the end of the film.

 Then there was the day when the cloak went on.  I just remember smiling like this.  You can’t contain yourself.  I never had this on my bucket list.  I mean not even this character, but not even being a superhero. I didn’t ever think one day I’ll be a superhero.  Or I’d like to try that.  As a kid I really enjoyed and as an audience member of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, I just enjoyed being a part of watching it.  I never thought, oh yeah, I fancy a go at that. But the minute that cloak was on, I was like oh yeah, let’s get down to business!  Great fun.  Great, great fun. 

The other moment that was a really pinch yourself superhero moment, I guess, was running down Fifth Avenue literally with the silhouette of the Empire State Building at one end, going that’s the building that people crafted storyboards and built these comics on paper at the very beginning of all of this.  I’m running along in red and blue, jumping, pretending to take off on Fifth Avenue.  It was amazing.  Very cool.

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Photo Credit: As Mom Sees It

GOING INTO A MANHATTAN CAFÉ IN FULL COSTUME

It was brilliant.  It was the first time I’d had friends in America and Sophie {his wife} on set.  The first day we’d all been out all together on the set.  And it was madness.  There were more paparazzi than there was crew.  And I just sort of thought this is getting…  also, I feel protective of the film and also just sort of downtime with friends I don’t really wanna just all the time be photographed.  It’s really distracting when you’re working and also when you wanna just clock off for a second.

So I said let’s just go somewhere.  Shall we just go somewhere?  And they went, you’re in costume, you’ve got makeup on.  I went, yeah, but it’s New York, they’ll be fine with it. And, sure enough that’s exactly what happened.  Sophie went I used to work around the corner, this little café.  I can’t believe we’re here.  Shall we try that one?  I was like yeah.  And I expected to walk in and get the kinda like, hey Sophie!  Kinda like a family welcome.  She meant she took at laptop there to work; I didn’t realize that until we were in there. 

So we went in there and it was like, hey guys, yeah, there wasn’t that reaction. But there was this New York moment which was just out of Ghostbusters, when Rick Moranis is banging on the window going, please help me!  Help me!  And the dogs are chasing him.  They all turn around and sorta look at him.  Then, he squeaks down the glass and then they all go, anyway, as I was saying… just everything goes back to normal in like five minutes in New York.  So it really was that.  I ordered an Arnold Palmer, I sat down, got a little bit hot.  My makeup artist wasn’t thrilled.  Donald.  He was like, ah, I’m going to have to do your beard again, oh…  And that was it. 

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Photo Credit: As Mom Sees It

AND A COMIC BOOK STORE

On the very last day, we were starting a run. Chiwetel and I were running, as usual, away from creating some mass destruction and all of these people were saying, look to your left, look to your left.  And I looked, and it was a comic book store.  We’d just started the scene and we were right by a comic book store.  So, I went into the comic book store. I had become a sort of Halloween horror at that point and didn’t really care.

 I thought, I’m just going to go everywhere in my costume. I thought it would be funny for them to see one of the guys off the shelf come in and say hello.  It was very funny.  They were really dry, but again, like New Yorkers, they’re like okay, cool, nice to see you.  I said, look if the movie doesn’t work out can I come and stack shelves for you?  Or make you coffee? And they were like yeah, no, that’d be great.

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Photo Credit: As Mom Sees It

GETTING THE ROLE

Benedict recalled that the first time he was told he would make a great Doctor Strange was he was sitting down with a journalist from the LA Times, doing press on the roof of the Bad Robot for Star Trek. At the time, he had no idea who or what Doctor Strange was so he did a little research. He saw this was a very much a comic of its time. A comic about cultism and east meets west mysticisim, in the 1960s. He noted the psychedelic elements and mind blowing drawings but couldn’t figure out why now or why this character.

 He then sat down with Steve Ditko and Kevin Feige, with Marvel, to discuss his potential involvement in the film and it was then that his, slow brain woke up to the fact that in the 21st Century you can make magic look pretty cool on the big screen.” More importantly, he had the opportunity to sit down with Scott Derrickson and voice his concerns about the onuses of the character and how acerbically arrogant he was. He wanted to round out the edges a little bit, make him more human, and understand what makes him who he becomes.

Benedict said Scott pitched the origin story and that humor was going to be really important. They discussed the bewilderment of the 21st Century audience and that if you go on his ride with him you experience a little bit of the experience.  Scott won Benedict over. He said he had seen a lot of Scott’s previous work and, “the combination was intoxicating and I was just won over.”

 It was then that they told Benedict they wanted to start filming right away. Unfortunately, he had already made a commitment and was unable to do so. He noted that he was heartbroken.

 It was then that they came back and said they couldn’t make the film without Benedict; they really needed it to be him. For the first time ever, in Marvel’s history, they postponed the schedule of the making and the release of the film. This was amazing. Benedict said he knew, “it meant I had a huge amount of responsibility to live up to their faith in me, but that was a great motivation.”

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Photo Credit: As Mom Sees It

PREPARING FOR THE ROLE

For the specifics of the spell casting, there was this fantastic guy called Julian who’s a world class tutter, which is this hand movement thing; it’s very specific to the fingers. It’s astonishing.  I mean it’s really impressive.  It’s like break dancing from the wrists up. Julian does it with the whole of his upper body, but it is phenomenal.  It’s these stunning geometric or abstract shapes he creates with his hands. 

 The rest of it was sort of evolved with everything from Tai Chi to Kung Fu, to the fight style. The cutter, a sort of dance thing where we’re going through the routine, then evolves into his fighting style.  To cat kicks and whatever else I was doing. Thank God it was an origin story so I was learning with him. 

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The biggest thing I do and sort of accomplished was the gymnastics.  The aerial gymnastics for the wire work I did in the stunt scenes or the flying or being catapulted backwards through endless glass cabinets, or that kind of thing.  It was tough, I won’t lie. But it was really enjoyable.  You have the best people.  Whether it’s someone helping you with the dart, I was training every day, or every other day, just to get my body in shape and to be fit enough to do it.

Then yoga to make sure the body was supple enough.  Doing martial arts and then doing stunt choreography for specific fight scenes.  Or doing wild work, other specific stunts, and standalone moments ~ that was me doing it and it was great fun.

To say that Benedict Cumberbatch was meant for this role would be putting it mildly; Marvel held up the movie’s production and release to make sure he became Dr. Stephen Strange. And no surprise, they made the right decision and he was phenomenal. Seeing him in the film, I can’t imagine anyone else playing the part with such perfection. Sitting down and talking with him just cemented this thought process. What can I say? He’s amazing.

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Doctor Strange opens in theaters EVERYWHERE November 4, 2016.

Marvel’s DOCTOR STRANGE follows the story of the talented neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange, who, after a tragic card accident, must put ego aside and learn the secrets of a hidden world of mysticism and alternate dimensions. Based in New York City’s Greenwich Village, Doctor Strange must act as an intermediary between the real world and what lies beyond, utilizing a vast array of metaphysical abilities and artifacts to protect the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

CONNECT WITH DOCTOR STRANGE

WEBSITE   |   FACEBOOK   |   TWITTER   |   INSTAGRAM

Disclaimer: I was sent on an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles to cover the #DoctorStrangeEvent and #FindingDoryBluray Event with Disney/Pixar, Marvel, and Freeform. Regardless, all opinions expressed are still 100% my own.

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4 comments

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Margot C October 26, 2016 - 6:47 pm
The word envy is just not adequate to express my feelings here. I adore him. I try not to behave (even in my mind) like a gushing fan-girl, but with him all bets are off. Pure adoration.
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lncleslie October 29, 2016 - 3:33 am
I am looking forward to seeing Doctor Strange, hopefully I get a chance to watch it in the theater!
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Tonya J. Roberts October 30, 2016 - 9:35 am
WELCOME! You have just joined the ranks of millions who have discovered this brilliant acting gem and wonderful human being. Word of Advice: No matter what you hear in the press, most of us don't actually call ourselves "Cumberbitches," because he's absolutely right when he says it "sets feminism back years." (He's a self-avowed feminist.) Many of us call ourselves "the CumberCollective" because he has a huge male following as well. "CumberBabes" is also acceptable. By the way, he was obviously saying "wire work," but you heard "wild work." He has spoken about this in many interviews, and I assure you, it's "WIRE work" he was doing.
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Heather Pfingsten October 30, 2016 - 11:34 pm
Per your notation, I went back, listened, and updated my post. Thank you!
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