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Franco Gucci

Doctor Strange solidified the actor who would wear the mantle of Sorcerer Supreme in the MCU for years to come when it signed Benedict Cumberbatch to the titular role. However, it was a really rocky road we had to go through before that official casting announcement from Marvel. And while Cumberbatch was always Marvel's first choice for the role, for a while, it seemed like that just wasn't going to happen.

In a recent interview with Empire Magazine, the actor, and his director Scott Derrickson admitted it almost didn't work out. While Cumberbatch was "the only one seriously considered" for the role, his casting seemed more unlikely due to him playing Hamlet in autumn of 2015, right around the time Doctor Strange was aiming to film. Derrickson said this about their predicament:

"It just wasn't possible. To his credit, he said, 'I can't bail out of Hamlet. I've given my word."

We have to give the director points for persistency as, according to him, he told Kevin Feige:

"It's got to be Benedict."

Benedict was sure he'd lost the part, but Marvel wanted him so much that the studio eventually shifted Doctor Strange from its original July 8 release date to the November 4 that has us salivating as it gets closer and closer. Of his fear of losing his chance to sport the Eye of Agamotto and his surprise at Marvel shifting their plans, Cumberbatch said this:

“I really did think I had to kiss it goodbye. 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.”

So, which were the famous actors Scott Derrickson met with about the role when it seemed that Cumberbatch just wasn't going to work? Would they have been a good fit? Let's have a look:

1. Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling has been involved, in some form or another, with comic book adaptations for quite some time. In 2013, the actor was quoted as saying that he could play The Flash in a Justice League movie. A year later, his name was thrown around quite a bit when Suicide Squad started their casting process but nothing came to fruition. Now, we know he was approached for Doctor Strange. Seriously — he's been attached to just about every superhero role at one point or another:

Would he have worked?

While I love him as an actor and he makes every movie he's in ten times better, I don't think Ryan was right for the role. Yes, physically, he looks the part but he has a very distinctive, care-free, youthful personality that is evident in many of his roles. It could have been ideal for Stephen Strange's early years as a self-absorbed doctor but that essence wouldn't have worked for later as the Sorcerer Supreme.

2. Jared Leto

Jared Leto was first rumored as a contender for the role in 2014. Hot off his Oscar win for Dallas Buyers Club, the possibility of him in the role was exciting. Out of all the actors considered for Stephen Strange, I was on board with him as the Sorcerer Supreme.

Would he have worked?

Leto has a unique charm that he brings to even his most unlikable roles, such as in Panic Room. And even though he has a very youthful look, he could have brought Strange to life and made it seem like he jumped straight out of a comic book panel. Well, he ultimately lost the role but we all know how he came back to the superhero movie genre:

3. Joaquin Phoenix

Phoenix was not only in consideration but actually in final negotiations with Marvel to star as the mystical superhero. However, he ultimately dropped out at the eleventh hour, supposedly due to Marvel's famous long-term commitments and the blockbuster studio system.

Would he have worked?

While at first I could see him as Strange, he was never a casting choice that had me particularly excited. Don't get me wrong, Joaquin is a great actor but I was always afraid of him eventually getting fed up with something and leaving Marvel and fans with no Stephen Strange and a tedious recasting process.

4. Tom Hardy

Back in 2014, Deadline reported Tom Hardy as being, alongside Benedict Cumberbatch, one of the first actors considered for the role. Hardy is one of those actors that people want for everything and rightly so... with that said, I think it's best that he wasn't cast as Tony Stark's "awesome facial hair bro."

Well...he's not wrong.
Well...he's not wrong.

Would he have worked?

Hardy has a very rugged personality and look that wouldn't have translated so smoothly to the Sorcerer Supreme's graceful nature. While Hardy is a phenomenal actor, I suspect it would have left us feeling like we just saw Tom Hardy in a cape for two hours rather than the character.

5. Jon Hamm

Back in 2014, reported that Jon Hamm had signed on to star as the Sorcerer Supreme. While it sounded like a wild rumor, around the same time, Latino Review stated that the script had been sent back for considerable rewrites, so the fact that Hamm had signed on could have been true but his deal eventually fell apart due to all the trouble surrounding the project.

Would he have worked?

Just like Ryan Gosling, Hamm has a very distinct personality that's evident in the majority of his roles. So I think not making us think of Don Draper when watching Doctor Strange would have been a gargantuan task. With that said, he is one of the few that I can actually picture as Stephen Strange. Who knows? He could have given us an amazing performance. As we've seen, he does have some surprising comedic chops, too:

6. Ethan Hawke

This Is Infamous reported in 2014 that Marvel was considering Ethan Hawke for the role of Strange. Supposedly, the actor had accepted and a six-picture deal was offered. While these details could sound crazy, we have to consider the fact that Ethan had previously worked with Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson, so the deal might have taken place. What went wrong? With all the shifting and supposed script issues the movie was going through, Hawke's departure may have been due to scheduling. Still, it's not like he's not done well for himself before or since.

Would he have worked?

I could definitely have seen him as Stephen Strange. He has the acting chops. However, there's something about him physically that just doesn't scream "Doctor Strange" to me. Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have complained if he ended up playing the mystical doctor but, at the same time, I'm glad with how things ultimately turned out in terms of casting.

7. Colin Farrell

When negotiations with Joaquin Phoenix fell apart, one of the actors considered to replace him was Colin Farrell. However, from the little information there is about his involvement, I'm assuming the actor wasn't as seriously considered as Benedict Cumberbatch and Phoenix.

Would he have worked?

What is this? Bullseye playing Doctor Strange? Jokes aside, much like Tom Hardy, Colin has a very rugged personality and looks, one that would be very hard to ignore while watching him do magic tricks on screen. However, I'm sure that if Colin would have had the chance to portray Stephen Strange, he could have given us a really cool portrayal of the character.

8. Viggo Mortensen

Reports about his involvement weren't as solid as all the other actors on this list but were still enough for us to speculate. A Twitter user by the name of Roger Wardell, who had previously revealed Falcon was showing up in The Winter Soldier, posted these cryptic messages:

“Inside News: There’s something “Strange” about Thor: The Dark World”“Inside News: Marvel is negotiations with Viggo Mortensen for an unspecified role in one of their Phase 2 films”

This led to speculation that Mortensen had been cast as Doctor Strange with plans to appear in Thor: The Dark World. As we all know, that didn't happen, but we have to keep in mind that this is from 2012, so it's entirely possible that he was at least being considered but the deal fell through.

Would he have worked?

Absolutely. He's got the looks and the talent to pull it off. My only concern would have been his age. He's 57 right now, so if in the alternate reality where Doctor Strange ended up happening with Mortensen, the movie had been released in 2016, he would have been almost 60 by the time Avengers: Infinity War started filming, so most likely we wouldn't have gotten a substantial amount of movies with him in the role.

9. Johnny Depp

That's right, Captain Jack Sparrow was considered to play the Sorcerer Supreme. back in 2014, Latino Review reported that Johnny Depp had a meeting with Marvel to discuss Doctor Strange. That obviously didn't go anywhere but it makes sense as Depp and Disney have obviously had a long working relationship.

Would he have worked?

This is a yes and no answer. "Yes" because of his acting ability and charisma; Depp would have most likely brought a very likable Stephen Strange if he wanted to. But "no" because of his personality. With the pressures of the year-round schedule of the MCU, it's sad to say, but Depp's personal demons probably would have become an issue at some point. Not because of them as actors but sometimes there are just groups of people that you can't picture together and this is the case with the MCU and Depp.

Benedict Cumberbatch Was The Perfect Choice For Doctor Strange

When adapting a comic book, it's very rare to cast an actor or actress that fulfills everything their role should be: Not only do they look the part but their performances are so on point that they make you believe what you are watching. One of these rare cases is Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange.

Cumberbatch brings a very identifiable elegance and grace to the role that is essential to give audiences unfamiliar with the character an accurate representation of the awesome superhero Stephen Strange is. When thinking of the possible actors to take on the role and what could have been, I'm happy to know how everything turned out.

See Also:

Did any of the actors considered surprise you? Which one would you have liked to see as the Sorcerer Supreme?

[Sources: Empire, Deadline, THR]