INTERVIEW | I was never a big comic fan: Benedict Cumberbatch

Actor Benedict Cumberbatch talks about 'Doctor Strange' sequel, hand-tutting, and where he would go in the multiverse.
Benedict Cumberbatch as  Doctor Strange in the film
Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange in the film

How would you describe Doctor Strange in the Mutliverse of Madness?
It has a lot of thrills. It takes the idea of the multiverse and explodes it on a mind-blowing scale. You see Doctor Strange wrestling with parts of who he really is in this film. He’s the most vulnerable we have ever seen him.

How much fun was it to be reunited with Elizabeth Olsen after your time together on the Avengers movies?
Elizabeth is a wonderful actress and a wonderful person, so it was a joy to be able to work with her again and more extensively this time. Any time you get to work with people like her, Benedict Wong, Rachel McAdams, Chiwetel Ejiofor and the rest of our amazing cast is pure joy.

Doctor Strange’s cloak has also become a major star. How do you both get along off set?
My cloak is a far bigger star than I am. He has his own entourage and everything. He’s a fun aspect of the character. I love the cloak and the way it is very much a character in its own right. I know he has a huge fanbase these days. Not that I’m jealous!

What is it about Doctor Strange that makes him such a fascinating character?
For me, it’s the mystery of the character and the fact that he’s such a rebel and a renegade. I have always been drawn to characters like that. Any character who bends or even breaks the rules is a lot more fun to play than a character that just always does the right thing. Strange is good and he does try to do the right thing but he does it on his own terms and his own way.

How do you come up with all the hand gestures for the spells you cast as Doctor Strange?
There are references taken from the comics, but most of the gestures come from an amazing guy called Jay Funk, who is what they call a hand-tutter, which is a form of hand breakdancing. He has helped
us invent the language of hand gestures used in these films. It’s all brilliant fun to stand there doing the whole spell thing and working out how it should look, even if I often feel a bit stupid when I’m doing it.

What was it like having Sam Rami as your director on this one?
I loved working with Sam. He’s an incredible director and he brought a lot of the experience of working on the Spider Man films to this project. This film is certainly darker with a lot more shock and horror aspects because of Sam and his incredible vision as a filmmaker.

Did you ever read Marvel comics when you were growing up?
I have to hold my hand up and humbly admit that I am not and never was a big comic book fan. I did have a few comics and I loved the Superman films with Christopher Reeve. That shows how old I am! I certainly didn’t know anything about Doctor Strange. I had to ask some people about who he was when the character was first pitched to me. The more I have discovered about him, the more I have loved him as a character. He’s a wonderful character to play.

Did you always know that Doctor Strange would go to play such a prominent role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
Not really. I’m still surprised at how prominent he has become. I always knew there was amazing potential there because of all the aspects to the character, but I definitely had no idea that we would get to be at this point with the multiverse aspect when we started out.

Where in the multiverse would you like to see Doctor Strange pop up next?
I rather like the idea of him popping up with Banana Man.
I was a big Banana Man fan as a kid and I like the idea of us going there to see what he’s been up to.

Where in the multiverse would you go if you had Doctor Strange’s powers in real life?
I’m often asked that. Right now I quite like the idea of popping up at some place in time to invent an alternative source of fuel that doesn’t slowly destroy our planet.

Finally, will there be a third Doctor Strange movie?
I hope so. I would love to do another one. Doctor Strange is such a complex character and it feels like there is so much more to explore with him. He is such a brilliant character and I’m still having a wild time playing him.

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The New Indian Express