'Doctor Strange' news: Kevin Feige says Benedict Cumberbatch almost lost lead role

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Benedict Cumberbatch, among all other actors who were also rumored to be up for the role, landed the titular character of Dr. Stephen Strange for the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe film “Doctor Strange.” The casting decision by Marvel Studios, once it was officially announced, received fairly positive feedback, both from fans of the actor and those in the community of the MCU.

However, as smooth and as perfect as it may have seemed, the actor almost did not make the rolebut not because Marvel Studios had any doubts about him being the big screen version of the Sorcerer Supreme.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige revealed that while they had Cumberbatch in their minds for the role for quite some time then, the actor’s growing popularity almost made it impossible for him to take on a role for the comic book film.

“He was someone that we were very interested in for a very long time,” said Feige. “[But] he kept getting more and more popular! [Laughs] Which is not [essential] for us. Chris Pratt was not popular when we cast him in ‘Guardians’. That’s not a prerequisite needed for us casting [someone]. But he kept getting more popular, and more popular, and he kept getting busier, and busier, and it looked like the timing wasn’t going to work. So we looked at some other actors for a while and ultimately decided, ‘We have to try and make it work with Benedict and with his schedule.’ Which is why we shifted the production schedule around. He finished ‘Hamlet’ here in London, and I think had a day off, and then went to Kathmandu, Nepal, to shoot the first day of ‘Doctor Strange.'”

Aside from Cumberbatch himself, other actors who were previously rumored to be taking on the role of Doctor Strange included Joaquin Phoenix, Ethan Hawke, Matthew McConaughey, Ewan McGregor, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Oscar Isaacwho is now Apocalypse for the upcoming “X-Men: Apocalypse.”

“Doctor Strange” opens in theaters on Nov. 4, 2016.