‘Doctor Strange’ Director Reveals Why Joaquin Phoenix Wasn’t Cast As The Sorcerer Supreme

Was Joaquin Phoenix the perfect fit?

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Benedict Cumberbatch MCU Joker Joaquin Phoenix

Could Joaquin Phoenix have been the MCU’s Master of the Mystic Arts? Director Scott Derrickson reveals why he cast Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange.

From Tom Cruise as Iron Man to Asa Butterfield as Spider-Man, “almost castings” are some of the most popular things to bring up when speaking about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. None are perhaps more infamous than Joaquin Phoenix almost playing Doctor Strange, with many believing the actor was a hair’s width away from the role. However, according to director Scott Derrickson, it was clear early on the pairing wouldn’t work out.

“I met with a bunch of actors, and Joaquin [Phoenix] was the one that I spent the most time with,” Derrickson explained in a recent interview with Slash Film. “As we continued to talk, it became clear to me that Joaquin didn’t really belong in that movie and probably never belonged in the MCU. He’s a very specific guy with very specific goals as an actor, and a very specific way of performing. I think it became clear to both of us that this might not be a good fit, really is what it came down to.

“So after giving that a shot — we didn’t have a script, either. Keep that in mind. I think what he was very nervous about was he’d be committing to multiple movies, which is not the kind of thing he’s ever done. I just went back to Kevin [Feige] and I just said, ‘We have to move the date because it’s got to be Benedict.'”

Looking through Joaquin Phoenix’s catalog, it’s clear that Scott Derrickson’s observation about him not belonging to the MCU was right on the money. While he’s played comic book roles like in Joker, Phoenix has never been a blockbuster actor, at least in the way that something like Doctor Strange would require him to be.

Why Benedict Cumberbatch Was The Perfect Doctor Strange

It’s commendable to hear that Disney was willing to push the release date of Doctor Strange back once Scott Derrickson decided to go with Benedict Cumberbatch over Joaquin Phoenix. However, it seems Derrickson always had his eyes set on Cumberbatch, explaining he was his original choice.

“What happened, just to be clear, we offered the movie to Benedict [Cumberbatch]. I wanted Benedict. That was my choice for the role. I flew all the way to London to try to talk him into doing it. What it came down to was that it was a summer movie, and Benedict had committed to doing ‘Hamlet’ in London theater.”

“Benedict, he’s a guy with great integrity, and he understood the significance of what the role was and how it could impact his life. But he just said, ‘I’ve said yes to these people. I’ve committed to doing this. I can’t back out of it.’ He just personally wouldn’t do that to the theater and to the director of the show. So I came back from that trip and I was like, ‘We’re not going to get Benedict.'”

While Scott Derrickson would ultimately end up getting Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, it’s that integrity that makes him the perfect Sorcerer Supreme. A few years back, Cumberbatch even stopped an attempted robbery. Let’s see if any other MCU actors beat that!

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Anthony Singletary

Anthony Singletary

Anthony has always had a love for stories. An aspiring screenwriter and video editor, he takes pride in connecting fans with the latest heroic news!