By Maria Estevez, MWN
Acclaimed actor Benedict Cumberbatch has a myriad of brilliant characters that reflect the complexity of humanity. He has appeared in historically-rich tales like “War Horse” and “1917,” espionage thrillers, including “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” compelling TV shows like “Sherlock,” or intriguing western dramas such as “The Power of the Dog.”
In short, Cumberbatch has done it all, but it was with Doctor Strange that his career got to the top. As the Sorcerer Supreme who would eventually aid Earth’s mightiest heroes in their battle against Thanos in “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame,” Cumberbatch has played Doctor Strange six times to date. And earlier this month, the actor made his seventh appearance in the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe adventure.
Metro recently spoke with Cumberbatch to learn more.
Is Doctor Stephen Strange the role that has defined your career?
Yeah, definitely. It’s one of the biggest, and it’s given me scope and freedom to support and nurture and finance smaller fare – delicate, difficult stories and issues that otherwise I wouldn’t be able to shine a light on – either as a producer or an actor. So, I’m incredibly grateful for that opportunity, let alone this richly complex, very rewarding, and fun character to play. I love being your Doctor Strange.
Are you going strong with the character into the future?
I’m on a journey, and this is a huge, huge part of it. I always try to freshen things up and seek different challenges and work with different people, and this job is no exception to that. And while there are certain remits to doing a film at this scale, and it’s sort of more of a marathon than a complete immersion for a short period of time into a character, it’s incredibly satisfying. The sheer level of invertedness and childlike joy of playing and pretending that what’s here is utterly different from what is there or what isn’t there in the blue- or green-screen world.
Does Doctor Strange make you believe in magic?
The movie magic is a fantastic muscle to exercise again, to create authenticity out of literally nothing. At the same time, I also get the most phenomenal, workable, real-world environments, whether it’s the beautiful Sanctum Sanctorum, whether it’s four blocks of New York City that Charlie Wood, our very brilliant production designer on this and the first film, enables us to also be able to shoot and work with. That’s also an unsung joy of these films.
You bring another positive character to the cultural spectrum that we have. Do you see Doctor Strange as an optimist superhero?
He is very human, he is very flawed but, yes, he is an optimist. The thing that is optimistic about him, despite his arrogance and his humor and some other strange things, is that he kind of dumb in this film. He kind of evolves from his need to control, driven by his need of perfection, to someone that is better at collaborating, that is stronger in a team than on his own and that is a positive outcome for him. I think entertainment is always an eventual transition from the headlines of the world but I like to think that within these films we are in the zingiest of what is happening in the world and the optimist can travel further than the films.
You are a big reader and always bring humanity to your stories. What do you think when you have the word “censorship” associated to any of your projects?
It is an interesting word, is it not? I’m very glad we are not censoring this movie in order to please regimes because we have a huge number of fans that are being denied this movie for the inclusion of an LGBTQ+ character but sadly it is expected. It is also an opportunity to highlight the fact we still live in a world where this is a problem and we should talk about it. The sexuality of the character we are talking about is just one aspect that comes from the comics but also is a very powerful kick-a** female character, but this does mean I can say I can see what is happening in the world. South Arabia is tyranny and it is extraordinary that people from those communities leave in danger in a country where sexuality can take them to incarceration, torture and even execution. Though it was a problem of the past and is a mistake, this cultural event can highlight the real danger for people in that community in those countries, as sad as it is.
You have said this movie is a self-examination of Doctor Strange. Do you “self-examine” yourself with every character you play?
I think so. It is a weird form of very public therapy exercising those aspects of human nature that may or may not be my own share. I think the fancy element of make-believe, the creating an experience or a life experience that isn’t my own is fascinating. As an actor, I get to know other perceptions and experiences but I think this particular character in the multiverse is an incredible exercise of therapy where through his reflections we get to turbocharge the evolution of the character and speed into someone who he wasn’t at the beginning of the picture or the previous movies where we have seen him. We will see what happens with him afterward. I’m very excited to see the future of Doctor Strange.
Are you getting exponentially more aware of technology through the character?
I don’t know because the characters are about technology. I suppose so. We all are having complex lives now and we have multiple selves in the roles we play but also we are moving to a transitional moment with the Metaverse and we will have many other digital selves and that is going to be another whole world to explore. All of that is reflected in the film. It is the zingiest of the moment and a prevalent cultural narrative.