Ethan Hawke Suggests He Was Almost Cast As Marvel's Doctor Strange

Ben Bussey
·UK Movies Writer

Ethan Hawke has confirmed that he was indeed in the running for the title role in Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange’ before Benedict Cumberbatch was cast - and believes he came “about as close as anybody could” to beating the beloved British actor to the part.

The long-established actor, most recently noted for his turn in Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood,’ was considered a likely candidate to play the Sorcerer Supreme thanks in no small part to having previously worked with ‘Doctor Strange’ director Scott Derrickson on 2012 horror movie ‘Sinister.’

When Marvel revealed what was said to be their initial shortlist of contenders for the role (which conspicuously did not list Benedict Cumberbatch), this writer for one considered Hawke the best choice among them, and it seems the actor himself fancied his chances as well - and even suggests he may have been the director’s first choice.

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In a podcast interview (via MTV News), Hawke admitted “I don’t really know if I’m allowed to speak about these things,” but went on to speak at length about his feelings regarding Marvel’s current dominance at the box office.

"We’re living in the age of Marvel. Marvel has a tremendous amount of power over what everybody’s going to see. They’re making movies at a high rate and they’re making them successfully.

"And there was something really exciting to me about ‘Iron Man.’ That’s a movie by a real director [Jon Favreau], Marvel [had] given him a real budget, with one of the great actors of my generation [Robert Downey Jr]. How exciting – what would it be like to see Daniel Day-Lewis as Doctor Strange, right? So my point is, I’m totally open to doing something like that. "

Hawke then went on to speculate as to why an actor such as himself - and Joaquin Phoenix, the first actor officially linked to ‘Doctor Strange’ - might struggle to fit the Marvel paradigm; in particular, reluctance to take on the expected long-term contracts and promotional duties.

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"There’s a problem that comes along whenever Marvel’s going to approach Joaquin [Phoenix], or me, or anybody who is in love with acting, because there’s a tremendous amount of salesmanship that is now really important to a studio like that; so it’s a tremendous amount of time of your life when you’re working and you’re not acting…

"It’s a bigger burden, and so I think studios like Marvel, they really wanna make sure that somebody’s gonna play ball. And if you have a reputation as a pretentious artist type, it doesn’t work in your favour.

"Now I would love to work with Scott [again], and I have a sneaky suspicion that Scott wanted me for that too… if people are going to put up with somebody like me, they wanna be sure you’re going to put asses in the seats. And there’s a lot of actors that’ll put more asses in seats than me." 

'Doctor Strange' is set to shoot this May, ahead of a July 2016 release. Hawke, meanwhile, will next be seen in sci-fi thriller 'Predestination,' opening in UK cinemas on 20 February.

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 Picture Credit: WENN, Marvel, Momentum Pictures