Home Entertainment SCOTT DERRICKSON ~ Exclusive Interview: Doctor Strange

SCOTT DERRICKSON ~ Exclusive Interview: Doctor Strange

by Heather

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Whew, what a whirlwind of an event it has been and we still have so much to share! If you haven’t figured it out yet, the #DoctorStrangeEvent in Los Angeles was amazing. I’m so excited to share what we learned about the film and the characters and I have more to share today. First, let’s revisit what we have covered. If you missed anything, this is a great time to get caught up. I mean, the film opens in two days, it’s kinda now or never, the 11th hours, do or die time!

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH ~ Exclusive Interview

RACHEL MCADAMS ~ Exclusive Interview

TILDA SWINTON ~ Exclusive Interview

Don’t forget that on this trip we also sat down with Mads Mikkelsen, Benedict Wong, and Director Scott Derrickson. Today, I am thrilled to share with you what we learned from talking with Scott.

First, I was terrified to sit down with this guy. Okay, so terrified may not necessarily be the best word but I was overwhelmed and couldn’t figure out how we were going to hold the attention of a man that created true genius. Seriously, DOCTOR STRANGE is amazing! Go see the film this weekend and you will completely understand. The film was brilliant and Scott Derrickson touched upon things that no other Marvel film has attempted. The visual effects are stunning, the storyline is unique, and the entire movie steps outside the Marvel norm to create a new facet of this marvelous universe. What could we possibly say that the man would find even halfway worth answering?

Within moments, all of my concerns were assuaged when he walked in carrying a cup of coffee, was cutting jokes, and sat down totally laid back, a cool guy. He thought it was great that he was sitting down with 25 bloggers to answer questions about the film. He answered each question with feeling, thought, and depth. And now, I am excited to share his words with you!

Photo Credit: As Mom Sees It

Photo Credit: As Mom Sees It

HOW HE GOT INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT

I went after the job really hard. Like, really hard. I had eight meetings to get the job. It’s a very thorough process they go through, in hiring their directors.  I grew up with Marvel comics. Doctor Strange is my favorite comic. When I heard they were making it, I felt like it was the only comic book character I was uniquely suited to do.

When I went in for the first meeting, I had my own opinion about what a Doctor Strange movie should be, and I felt very strongly about it.  During that meeting, I was amazed at how in line my thinking about the comic was with theirs.  That was the point where it was almost like a switch flipped in my brain, and I said, I’m getting this job, and I’m going to outwork everyone on the presentation.  I wrote a 12 page scene {details removed to avoid spoilers} before the second meeting.

Then I illustrated it and spent a lot of money on visual concept art. I went in with a full vision and just said, here’s what a Doctor Strange movie should be and they were in alignment with it. The movie is so true to the comics. It so obviously feels the way the comics feel, and it true to the origin story.

Photo Credit: As Mom Sees It

Photo Credit: As Mom Sees It

MOTIVES BEHIND MAKING THE FILM

I’ll answer the question this way, we’ve been to two major cities on the press tour, and we’re now into the press here.  And I haven’t said this to anybody, but my biggest personal motive for making the movie is that I have two boys, who are now 13 and 10.

They were 11 and 8 when I started this. They’re Marvel fans, huge Marvel fans. I wanted to make a movie that would surprise them, but also a movie that would leave an impression on them, of what I think are some of the most important things in life.  And, that’s where a lot of that came from.

Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE L to R: Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Stephen Strange) and Director Scott Derrickson on set. Photo Credit: Jay Maidment ©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Marvel’s DOCTOR STRANGE
L to R: Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Stephen Strange) and Director Scott Derrickson on set.
Photo Credit: Jay Maidment
©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

THE 60s FEEL OF THE FILM

The ’60s comics were the primary influence for the movie, for sure.  Those early Stan Lee, Steve Ditko comics, which were very much products of the ’60s, and the ’60s psychedelia, the weird imagery of the movie is so rooted in the Steve Ditko artwork from that era.  I listened to almost nothing but psychedelic rock from that era, while I was working on this screenplay.  That’s really why there’s one Pink Floyd track in there that’s from the first Pink Floyd album, back in their early psychedelic days.

What I wanted to do was to not make a throwback movie, or a nostalgic movie.  I didn’t want to try to go back and recapture the ’60s revolution feel, but I wanted to have that same mindset of open your mind, expand your mind, see things new.  Look at a new aesthetic.  And explore possibilities. That was the goal, to take that ’60s mentality, and then bring it into a modern superhero movie, and, do it with a character who was about something, hopefully meaningful.

Photo Credit: As Mom Sees It

Photo Credit: As Mom Sees It

SPECIAL EFFECTS

The visual effects — it was a long time developing them.  It was one of the most creative parts of the whole process. The idea going into it was to use visual effects for a new reason than what you usually get in big event movies.  In big event movies, even in Marvel movies, special effects are usually used to destroy things.

It’s about destroying cities — because that’s what creates screen stimulus. I just felt committed to the idea of using those big expensive visual effects for something else, something new, something more interesting, and specifically, something trippy, and weird. And, to give the audience an unexpected experience.

Photo Credit: As Mom Sees It

Photo Credit: As Mom Sees It

CASTING TILDA SWINTON AS THE “ANCIENT ONE”

That choice was twofold. The first reason was because I was trying to find ways, creative ways, and positive ways, to escape the racial stereotypes from the original comics. They were products of the ’60s for good and bad, those comics. For bad, the Ancient One, and Wong, those two characters were pretty offensive racial stereotypes, by modern standards.

Wong’s character, I was able to completely reinvent. I sort of inverted his character.  Everything about his character in the comics, I just flipped on its head.  Instead of a man servant, he’s a master of the mystic arts.  Instead of a sidekick, he’s Strange’s intellectual mentor.  So that was great.

With the Ancient One, I couldn’t really do that.  The Ancient One, for the origin story to work, still had to be a magical, mystical, domineering, martial arts mentor, to Doctor Strange. So the first thing I wanted to do is make it a woman.  And, I thought, okay, that’s fresh. I did that to get away from the cliché and the stereotype, but I also did that because I wanted a woman Tilda’s age. I wanted a woman who wasn’t the 26 year old, tightly leather clad, hot, fan boy dream girl.  I wanted to have a real woman in the movie, in terms of trying to get diversity in there.

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 23: Director Scott Derrickson from Marvel Studios?'Doctor Strange? attends the San Diego Comic-Con International 2016 Marvel Panel in Hall H on July 23, 2016 in San Diego, California. ©Marvel Studios 2016 (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

SAN DIEGO, CA – JULY 23: Director Scott Derrickson from Marvel Studios? ‘Doctor Strange? attends the San Diego Comic-Con International 2016 Marvel Panel in Hall H on July 23, 2016 in San Diego, California. ©Marvel Studios 2016 (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

I thought about casting an Asian woman. We had lots of discussion about that. But I couldn’t get away from the stereotype of the Dragon Lady.  If you know anything about American cinema, and the portrayal of the Dragon Lady, you know, the anime movies and all that, it just felt like a trap, also.  So then I started thinking, well who could bring the ethereal, enigmatic, mystical qualities of the Ancient One, from the comics that are good?  And I was like, Tilda.

Who else could it be?  An interesting story about that is that I was trying to write the role, and it was the one role in the movie that was flat, it was just a flat role. Every version I did of it was just not great. It was not working. Then, when I came up with the idea in my head about Tilda doing it, suddenly the role came to life, and I wrote it, without her knowing anything about the movie, or knowing that I was interested in her doing it, I wrote it for her, and it was great.  And I remember bringing the script — I remember what room I was in, I remember bringing the script to Kevin, and handing it to him, saying, okay, this role is great now, but it has to be Tilda Swinton that plays it.  And if it’s not her, we’re going to have to rewrite it again. Because I didn’t feel like anybody but her could do the role as I, as I wrote it.

Marvel's DOCTOR STRANGE L to R: Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) and Director Scott Derrickson on set. Photo Credit: Jay Maidment ©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

Marvel’s DOCTOR STRANGE
L to R: Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) and Director Scott Derrickson on set.
Photo Credit: Jay Maidment
©2016 Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

CASTING THE OTHER LEAD ROLES

The five lead roles — this is very rare, but the five lead roles, we got our first choice on every one of them. I don’t think that’s ever happened for me, where our first choice for each role, we just were able to get.  It usually doesn’t happen, if for no other reason, because of availability. It just turned out that all of our first choices were available, and they all wanted to do it, when they heard what the movie was.

Once we got Benedict, of course, he’s kind of an actor magnet. Other actors want to work with him, so there was that.  But then when I would meet with them and explain the movie, they got excited, I think, at what it was that we were trying to do. Like Tilda, I remember Tilda got excited because she understood that I wasn’t making an experimental movie.  I was making something that was not going to be — she doesn’t care about, you know, how big a movie is.  She could care less.  Uh, she cares how interesting it is.

Photo Credit: As Mom Sees It

Photo Credit: As Mom Sees It

MESSAGES BEHIND THE MOVIE

There’s a lot of stuff.  If you could reduce what a movie is about, to just simple phrases, you wouldn’t need to make a movie.  Hopefully movies, like any kind of quality entertainment or great art, is about more than what you can reduce to statements.  The idea of this character, who has the wrong values, who has everything, thinks he has everything, but his life is shallow.

He’s materialist, he’s self-centered, he’s bad at relationships, he’s ego-driven.  And, then, he loses everything. And through this trauma, through this gauntlet of pain and suffering, he transforms into something better.  I love that the movie’s about that.  I love that the movie’s about how pain can dislodge you from what’s bad about your life, and push you into something better.  He becomes a much better person, as a result of the worst thing that could happen to him, happening.

And, as a result, he goes from this selfish, skeptical, materialistic guy, to this unselfish, altruistic, mystic, Master of the mystic arts; who wants to save people for better reasons than he did in the past.

Now that you know a little more about the Director, his motivation, and his vision you are even more excited to see the film. I know that I can’t wait to see it again! I still can’t believe that we had the opportunity to sit down with Scott. The man is a true visionary genius!

Don’t forget that there is still more to come from our time in Los Angeles! Tomorrow we will be sharing our interview with Mads Mikkelsen. Stay tuned for this and much, much more. In the meantime, be sure to follow #DoctorStrangeEvent on social media for the latest DOCTOR STRANGE updates.

Doctor Strange opens in theaters EVERYWHERE November 4, 2016.

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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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