Features and Columns

A Brief History Of Wondering Who the Hell Is Going to Play ‘Doctor Strange’

By  · Published on October 15th, 2014


If only Marvel could conjure up some kind of magic – perhaps while someone wears a cape – to create a viable candidate to play their Doctor Strange in, uh, Doctor Strange (see! naming the movie is easy! why can’t casting be, too?). Rumors about a Doctor Strange film have swirled like so much mystical fog for years now, but the film is finally coming together for a 2016 release. One teensy problem, however? The feature still doesn’t have a leading man. Oops. We’ve been through, yes, entire years of chatter on this one, and still, no Doctor Strange. Will that change soon? (Well, yes, but haven’t we had fun getting there? No?)

Behold! A brief history of trying to find a proper actor to play an iconic character as part of a multimillion dollar franchise!

October, 2008: Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige admits that he’d love to see the good doc on the big screen, and that it’s something fans can possibly look forward to seeing around 2012 or 2013 (eh, close enough).

June, 2010: Scribes Thomas Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer are hired to write a script for Doctor Strange.

June, 2010, later: It’s already rumored that Patrick Dempsey is “campaigning” for the role. This will later prove to be a hilarious tidbit forgotten by most people.

September, 2010: It’s rumored that Doctor Strange could go the Pixar animated route. Hey, at least they’d only have to cast a voice actor.

April, 2013: CHUD reports that Justin Theroux could win the role.

July, 2013: Latino Review reports a very early rumor that Joseph Gordon-Levitt could be up for the role.

January, 2014: Johnny Depp is rumored for the role, because of course he is.

February, 2014: Feige tells IGN that he doesn’t feel like the film needs a big movie star, saying, “So, no, a movie star is not required, but that doesn’t mean a movie star wouldn’t be great. It just depends.”

June, 2014: Director Scott Derrickson signs on to helm the film. This thing is really cooking now!

June, 2014, later: Deadline reports that Jon Spaihts will pen the film’s next draft. The report also mentions a series of possible names for casting: Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jared Leto.

July, 2014: Comic-Con nearly explodes with rumors that Joaquin Phoenix is being courted for the role. Buzz reaches such a fever pitch before Marvel’s panel, and most expect that Phoenix will be announced for the part during said panel. It doesn’t happen.

August, 2014: This Is Infamous reports that Jack Huston might actually be in consideration for the part.

August, 2014, later: Wait! Collider reports that Phoenix is indeed still in the mix – in fact, he’s in “final talks” for the role.

September, 2014: ScreenDaily reports that Doctor Strange will fill Marvel’s previously announced-but-unnamed July 8, 2016 release date.

October, 2014: After months of rumors, chatter and buzz, Phoenix officially ends discussions for the role.

October, 2014, later: Badass Digest reports that Ewan McGregor is in the hunt for the role, with a source sharing that the actor has “been prepping for the role – doing the usual research actors do when looking at taking on an adaptation or existing character.”

October, 2014, even more later: Variety reports mere hours later that a bevy of names are still in the mix, including Leto, Oscar Isaac, Matthew McConaughey, Ethan Hawke, McGregor and Jake Gyllenhaal. Let’s be honest, this is the kind of dream casting list that every studio has hanging in a room somewhere. For anything. Any movie, really.

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Perhaps you are destined to be the Sorcerer Supreme? Can we get some kind of open call going on here?

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