‘Doctor Strange’ director Scott Derrickson has revealed that Benedict Wong’s character (called Wong as it happens) was only brought into the film after Tilda Swinton was cast as The Ancient One’.
Swinton’s casting, and later appearance in the film’s trailer, provoked a 'whitewashing’ controversy stemming from the mystical character’s Asian origin and Swinton’s lack there of.
“I was very happy with that [Tilda’s casting], but I was also very conscious that in doing that I was erasing a significant potential Asian role,” Derrickson told The Los Angeles Daily News.
Wong was originally described as Strange’s “manservant” in the original comics, acting as his handyman before modern takes on the character fleshed him out and made him much more.
“I was going to leave Wong out of the movie at first; he was an Asian sidekick manservant, what was I supposed to do with that? But once the decision was made to cast Tilda, we brought Wong back because, unlike the Ancient One, he could be completely subverted as a character and reworked into something that didn’t fall into any of the stereotypes of the comics.
Back in June, Benedict Wong (best known for his role as an over-worked engineer in 'The Martian), told Den of Geek: “I’m certainly not going to be the tea-making manservant.
"We’re heading in a different direction. He’s more of a drill sergeant. There isn’t any martial arts for Wong in 'Doctor Strange’ actually, he’s more of a drill sergeant to Kamar-Taj. He’s one of the masters of sorcery.”
Wong and Swinton form part of an all-star cast including Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, Mad Mikkelsen and Benedict Cumberbatch in the magic-wielding lead role.
The film isn’t far from release now. It’ll hit UK cinemas on 25 October 2016.
Picture Credits: Marvel Studios