Benedict Cumberbatch (“Dr. Stephen Strange”) interview for Doctor Strange
Our interview day for Doctor Strange had arrived and the interview kicked off with the phenomenal Benedict Cumberbatch. For those of you who have not been following along, he plays the egotistical, wickedly talented surgeon Dr. Stephen Strange in the highly anticipated film, Marvel’s Doctor Strange.
He was MY most anticipated interview not only because he portrays the title character in the film but is an iconic stage and television actor. He is beloved by so many and he was taking the time to sit down with 25 bloggers from across the country.
The room was all a twitter, not just because we were tweeting but because the 24 women in the room were trying to keep composure, triple check our question list and I think more than one of us checked our makeup.
He arrived to the interview and did not disappoint. Cheers erupted from the group and there were smiles all around.
The questions started to fly and here are the results.
How was it working on a set that didn’t have anything on it?
Note: Much of the Doctor Strange set was a Blue and Green set so the special effects can be added in post production.
Turn It Up to Eleven
The thing about the set it’s a huge mixture. Sometimes on Marvel set there are the camera for 360 frames. And then other days you are literally in a room where the walls, the floors, everything but the ceiling is diffused light. You don’t know what time it is, you can’t get horizons or space right. It’s very, very confusing.
But you have this incredibly complex previs which is cartoon format. It’s sort of story boarding.
So you know exactly where you are, exactly what elements or environments are gonna be moving around you, and then it’s the same old game of acting. You just turn up to eleven. Everything we do as actors is imaginary circumstances. It’s a form of artifice and smoke and mirrors. Even if I would walk into this room with a hidden camera, at some point you understand that you’re walking in and a character you may be keeping in order for somebody somewhere to see it.
So there’s always in the back of your head the idea that you’re being watched and you’re performing. You have to sort of make believe. The hardest stuff is sometimes doing the movement, the spells, or anything to do with what are his powers involved or the weapons he used.
Then we got to the question about the cloak. We had seen the film the night before in 3D (you MUST see it in 3D. An absolute MUST!) and I was fascinated by the cloak. The design was exquisite, the details in the stitching blew my mind but the one piece that I wasn’t expecting was that it seemed the cloak was its own character. It was not just a piece of clothing or something that had a purpose, such as protection but it had a personality. Keep your eye on the collar and you will see what I mean.
Speaking of the cloak, what was it like? How long did it take to get into and out of costume? What did you feel the first time you saw yourself in full costume?
Oh my God, I’m actually playing 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 was very giddy. It was really, really giddy. I mean we’d been trying little bits of the costume on for something like a month. The costume proper very slowly grading up to what you see at the end of the film. And then the day when the cloak comes on.
I just remember smiling like this. (HUGE Smile across his face.) It was just…you can’t contain yourself.
Not on his bucket list.
I never had this on my bucket list. I mean not just 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 the Marvel’s Cinematic Iniverse, I just enjoyed being a part of watching it. I never thought…I fancy to get at that.
The other moment that was a really pinch yourself superhero moment I guess was running down Fifth Avenue with the- 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. And I’m running along in red and blue, jumping, pretending to take off on Fifth Broadway. It was- I mean Fifth Avenue. It was amazing. It was amazing. Very cool.
Getting In Costume
Nick, my costume guy was brilliant. You really do need to become clamped into it the costume. It took us about twenty minutes to half an hour to get me dressed. The boots were the longest thing, actually. The boots were the longest thing because of the real laces. It’s not Velcro.
Alex (Byrne) is brilliant and she studied a lot of the design. Early [with the costume design] there’s no way I could do [certain] movements. So that got elasticated. I’d say the fastest we got it was about twenty minutes.
[bctt tweet=”‘My God, I’m actually playing a superhero.’ #BenedictCumberbatch upon seeing himself dressed as #DoctorStrange” via=”no”]
Cafe, Manhattan, Doctor Strange
Can you tell us the story behind you wearing your Doctor Strange costume in Manhattan?
It was brilliant. The first day we’d all been out all together on the set, it was madness. There were more paparazzi than there were crew. 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 then we went, in costume, with makeup on.
Sophie said, ‘I used to work around the corner at 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. So we went in there and it was like, hey guys, yeah, it’s…and there wasn’t that reaction.
New York Moment
We just sat down and we were there for a good sort of twenty-five minutes whilst they did the next set up. It was bliss. The very last day of the whole of that shoot Chiwetel and I were running as usual away from creating some destruction. All the people were telling us – look to your left, look to your left. I looked, and it was a comic book store.
So I’m gonna go in. Just go everywhere in my costume. I thought it’d be funny for them to see one of the guys off the shelf come in and say hello. But again, like New Yorkers, they’re like okay, cool, nice to see you. I said, look if it doesn’t…if the movie doesn’t work out can I come and stack shelves for you? And they were like yeah, that- that’d be great.
[bctt tweet=”First time in #Marvel history, they postponed the shooting schedule to bring #BenedictCumberbatch as part of the cast of #DoctorStrange” via=”no”]
Can you tell us about the audition process and what your reaction was when you got the role?
This started with a conversation in this town with an LA Times journalist and he sat on the roof of Bad Robot when we were doing press.
You’d make a great Doctor Strange.
I went Doctor Who?
And he went, no, that as well…
Then I was intrigued. And I read it a bit and I thought okay…I can sort of see why he meant that. But this is very much a comic of its time. It’s about cultism and east meets west mysticism, you know, in the ‘60s. And it’s got all those sort of psychedelic elements, like real big left turn that Steve Ditko did with his drawings which was just mind blowing.
And then Kevin and Steve called and I went into Marvel and we had a proper grown up discussion about it. And I thought this could be really interesting. And my slow brain woke up to the fact that in the 21st Century you can make magic look pretty cool on the big screen.
But most importantly was when I sat down with Scott, I gave him a few of my concerns about the onuses of the character, how sort of acerbically arrogant he was. I thought, I play other elements of that in other characters as you probably know. I want to just round the edges a little bit. Make him more human, understand what makes him who he becomes. And so he talked to me. He pitched the origin story and the humor was- that humor was gonna be really important to him.
I really like Scott as a person as well. And I have to admit, I’ve never seen one of his films all the way through because I’m terrible at watching horror films. I can’t do it. It affects my imagination in a really bad way. But I have seen a lot of his previous work. And the combination was intoxicating and I was just won over.
We Want To Film Now
Then they said, we wanna film it now. At this particular point. I went I can’t. I can’t. I’m doing Hamlet. I was committed to a theater, and director, and producer, designer and people in the cast were something to be talked about. And so, I couldn’t. It went away for a bit and I was heartbroken.
Then they came out and said we can’t not make this film with you. We really need it to be you. For the first time ever in Marvel’s history, they postponed the schedule of the making and the release of the film. It meant I had a huge amount of responsibility to live up to their faith in me, but that was a great motivation.
[bctt tweet=”First time in #Marvel history, they postponed the shooting schedule to bring #BenedictCumberbatch as part of the cast of #DoctorStrange “via=”no”]
Did you have to go through special classes for this role? How did you prepare?
For the specifics of the spell casting, yes, there was this fantastic guy called Julian who’s a world class Tutter, which is this hand movement. It’s very specific to the fingers. It’s break dancing from the wrists up.
Julian does it with the whole of his upper body, it is phenomenal. It’s these stunning geometric, or abstract shapes he creates with his hands. Thank God it was an origin story so I was learning with him. The biggest thing I do and sort of accomplish 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. It was tough. I won’t lie. But it was really enjoyable. You have the best people helping you. Whether it’s someone helping you with the dart. And 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. Then doing martial arts. Then doing stunt choreography for specific fi- fight scenes. Great fun.
Here are you 25 bloggers with the amazing Benedict Cumberbatch. Thanks to Dusty at AsMomSeesIt for being our in house photographer.
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!