This is Benedict Wong’s reaction when 25 bloggers give him wild applause upon entering the interview room.
Benedict Wong beautifully portrayed Wong in Doctor Strange. Wong is the keeper of Kamar-Taj’s vast library of mystical tomes, the no-nonsense Wong is tasked with not only deciding who is worthy of studying from The Ancient One’s private collection but also protecting the sacred incantations from falling into the wrong hands. While quiet and unassuming, make no mistake—if someone were to try to steal from Wong’s library, they’d have to get through him first.
I was delighted to be part of this group and be able to interview this actor who was bringing a character who happened to have the same name as him, to life. He was gracious with his answers to our questions and was generous with his stories from behind the scenes of working on Doctor Strange. The character Wong was one of my personal favorites from the film and it was great to be able to ask Benedict questions about his role in the film.
What was your favorite moment behind the scenes?
My favorite moment. I have known Benedict and Chiwetel over the years and have been in a few films with him over the years. I’m very thrilled to be a part of this incredible cast. I am just feel like really ecstatic.
We came back to LA, we did a bit of additional photography. I was just looking over incredible costumes as we were walk into Santorum again. I just thought, oh this is just…sometimes, you know, they’re just beautiful moments. You just get that warm, fuzzy feeling. I think it was just a warm fuzzy Actor Production feeling. I just thought ‘Aw Wow! It’s culminated into something really wonderful. It’s a sort of a mixture, sort of childhood dreams to sort of being in kind of the Marvel Universe.
Do you have any comics and if you did, do you feel a lot of pressure performing such an iconic role?
Yeah. I use to collect a lot of Marvel Comics. I was always a big sort of Spider Man fan and always collect “Amazing Spiderman”. I’ve got the #1 copy which I’m thrilled about. So I would always be at a Comic Book Store which is no longer there out in Manchester. God Bless His Soul, Odyssey Seven, and just be mining through these stories til you get sort of chucked out. I never really knew much about Dr. Strange if I’m honest. And then I saw Chiwetel for lunch one time. I asked what he was up to. OK, you’re doing this Dr. Strange. Let’s just have a little tit tat. And then I saw – I saw this picture, it was Dr. Strange.
There was a Wong Character. I was like what? I was always so crestfallen that there were no Asian Superheroes. Where are the Super Asians? I have to simply get this by birthright. Ancestors will not let me live this down. So you’re always looking like when are they shooting this. Oh, it’s never gonna happen. Then bit by bit, the kind of stars aligned, they kindly moved the dates and that’s where you know, it kind of went straight into filming.
Is there a line from your script that became more ear worm for you? I don’t want to say haunted you but has stuck with you?
He sets the scene for us: Benedict’s doing this elaborate spell which probably takes about a minute and then Chiwetel and I kind of waiting in the wings to come down and obviously chastise him for breaking, you know, space/time continuums.
I don’t know where you’ve got that huge chunk of taffy or something in your mouth. I couldn’t really get the words out. He’s doing this Minute spell and then we come down and Chiwetel’s like, ‘What’s up with the space time continuum?’ And I was like pup, pup, pup. So I think like the jet lag was kind of, as much as he was doing this Minute elaborate spell, I was creating my own black hole.
And it was like I had to be sent home. So but the next day, we were all back on track but I think that was the kind of a bit of a wobbler I think.
Do you have a favorite line, like that actually made the cut?
I don’t really have favorite lines to be honest. I love all my children, I love all my lines. I love part of the scenes. As long as we’re telling, I’m this cog. I just feel like I’m a cog in a part of these amazing machines. And everyone’s in it as well,special effects, the writing teams, everyone and the crew. Everyone’s just putting so much energy into this film.
Which side do you relate to more in real life?
I’m a little bit of a goofball really, like a serious goofball. I think they’ve kind of got a very interesting relationship. They’re a little bit chalk and cheese, you know. The odd couple. As much as he’s got these incredible mystical powers. I think he’s also there to put in check and help him guide him through this crazy multiverse that we’re about to encounter I think.
So you said that this role was meant for you. What was your reaction when you got the role?
I got the call from Sara Finn. I called her up and she just said, ‘Congratulations, you’re gonna have an amazing ride!’ and I was like What?
Obviously you can’t tell anyone. So you’re just at work, dressed as Kubla Khan and you’re not to tell anyone, Oh, I’m gonna be in a Marvel and I’m beheading someone. I’ll going to be in a Marvel Film. When someone gives you this secret and you go, don’t tell anyone. OK, OK. Wow, all of this investment of all my pocket has really paid off in my adult life. It’s wonderful.
Do you have anything quirky you like to do on set? Maybe just like always follow the camera guy or look at your cards, or anything funny that’s specific to you?
I never actually went to Drama School and I’m always kind of sort of always doing sort of little funny voice warm up exercises.
He demonstrates how he does vocal warm up exercises saying Mary Had a Little Lamb Whose Fleece Was White as Snow with his tongue hanging out.
I’m practicing my enunciation and then the Director walked past, tapped me on the back going yes, do it like that. And I go what? No! It was a vocal warm up!
If you could have any Super powers in the world, what would it be in real life?
This place really needs the power of understanding. I think I’d forego that from flying around and being invisible. Unifying that we’re all one.
Your most memorable moment on scene, something funny?
I said before really when I was in England with Benedict and Chiwetel. We were just looking at each other. This is — this is great, just having this really sort of unified moment of just working once again. I personally feel like I’m the one that’s won the competition. You get to be in Dr. Strange and you get to work with these guys. And we get paid as well! It’s fantastic!
In developing the Character of Wong for yourself, what sort of research did you do? Did you read a lot of the older Dr. Strange, some of the newer stuff, outside influences?
I first picked up the oath so I just kind of had a little look at that. It was like certain aspects of that, Man Servent to a Tee. I took it back into the 60s and leave it there. As an actor as well, I’m always looking for a flow — what can we do to promote a positive role model. The fact that I feel this kind of stoic strength of Wong that is serious but he’s very, no doubt he is serious about the severity of what is about to happen really and these forces that we do not know.
With the story of this arrogant Neurosurgeon becoming a broken man coming to find himself being humbled that he has a place that is bigger than himself . I’m thrilled to play this role. I think Marvel, Kevin Thelke and the gang are doing a great job really to kind of promote that.
But there is more!
Marvel Studios Teams Up With Save The Children to Raise Fund Through Hero Acts
Marvel Studios has a very exciting announcement! With the help of Fotition, Marvel fans can upload a photo of themselves in their favorite super hero pose and Marvel will donate $5 to Save The Children. This activation runs through the end of 2016 or until fans have uploaded enough for Marvel to donate one million dollars.
Hear from Benedict Cumberbatch himself:
Marvel Studios will donate five dollars ($5) to Save the Children. Up to U.S. one million dollars, for every fan who uploads a photo of themselves in their favorite Marvel hero pose. Marvel Studios is collaborating with Fotition, a new social change platform, to power the experience on a brand-new website MarvelStudiosHeroActs.
Marvel’s DOCTOR STRANGE is in theaters everywhere on November 4th!