Benedict Cumberbatch Casts his Spell on Asia

“I think you’re in for a truly spectacular, very heartfelt, at times funny, but really thrilling journey.”

If some other actor had said that about his upcoming movie, the eyeroll would be a given but when the conveyor of the message is British thespian Benedict Cumberbatch, it comes along with a certain level of sincerity, wrapped in earnest honesty.

And he certainly charmed every member of the media this morning at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Hong Kong during the Asia press conference for Doctor Strange, when he was asked to describe the film to an audience whose biggest experience with movie magic is less Master of The Mystic Arts, and more Harry Potter.

When it comes to prepping for this role, the 40-year-old, who is no stranger to playing iconic roles, says this is possibly his biggest one, and one that he doesn’t mind being associated with forever.

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Yes, Stephen Strange tops Khan Noonien Singh, Smaug and even Sherlock Holmes, but the craft of bringing a pen and paper character to life is no different from approaching his other roles, says the actor, who is joined by director Scott Derrickson, Marvel Studios president, Kevin Feige and fellow Doctor Strange actress, Tilda Swinton.


“Whether be it the hours or the amount of live action that is involved, because despite the extraordinary effects that you will see on the film, a lot of it was done in persons on the most fantastic sets, you literally shoot 360 degrees, because of the details on them,” says Benedict, who says that one key difference is that movie was made on a much larger scale.

“Like a lot of actors, when you are in a very big film, you can’t think about that, you can’t think about what the preconceptions are going to be. You just try to problem solve, moment by moment day by day. And working on the script that is actually fantastic, great collaborators, you approach material like any other material. You go about fulfilling the tasks.”

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And the toughest part about filming the movie? It’s definitely the physical aspect of it.

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“We’ve done with stuntman but also we’re on wires with the fight sequences, and running a lot of running, that sort of thing, the physical part was a huge step up for me.”

After going through a gruelling shoot process, he hopes for the movie to exceed fans’ expectations. “It was a brilliant origin story, full of humour and truth to the original source materials, the comics, story and a studio that knows what it’s doing.”

For Tilda Swinton, being in Doctor Strange was a unique experience.

“There was something about a Marvel film, and there was something about stepping in front of the camera every time, there was a question in my head, what kind of film are we making? We’re making a Marvel film, you are stepping into a Marvel frame, and you’re being directed by Scott Derrikson, it was completely unique and thrilling every time.”

Even for a seasoned profession, Tilda revealed that casting spells, while remembering her lines, were the trickiest thing for her. On the other hand, the more physical part of the movie, which included the martial arts fighting, was something she enjoyed doing.


And it was such a stroke of luck and fortune that Tilda got to play the role, because director Scott Derrickson shared that it was written specifically just for her.

“She was the first choice. We need to find someone who can embody the intrigue of the Ancient One, a very complex character. Ethereal androgynous, all these things. I told Kevin that if she turned the role down, I would have to rewrite the script.”

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As for casting Stephen Strange, president of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, shared that he was convinced Benedict, without question, was the man for the role. In fact, Marvel Studios wanted Benedict so badly, Kevin shifted the movie’s schedule to accommodate Cumberbatch’s other commitments, as he was committed to playing Hamlet in a London Play.

“For many years, Benedict was our number one choice, without question. We moved the movie around, which we’ve never done before,” said Kevin.

Given that 20 minutes of the film has been presented to rave reviews in various cities around the world, Tilda promises that there is more in the movie that has remained under wraps. The Marvel Cinematic Universe started out by transporting audiences into a comic book world, and it is now moving on to an other-worldly place.

“It doesn’t matter how old we are, we go into the cinema to see a Marvel film and we are going on a magical mystery ride, we’re on a magic carpet and I would say what we would get this time is something different, and a little special because we are dealing with magical powers but we’re also dealing with human beings, and that really does deliver something special.”

The press conference ended with the foursome dotting the eyes of miniature dragon heads, for good luck and success.

We’ll be bringing you more on Doctor Strange when we get to sit down the director and the two main cast. Stay tuned for more updates.

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