Cumberbatch talks to ET about the epic scale of the 'Doctor Strange' sequel and hosting 'SNL.'
After six years, Doctor Strange is finally getting a second installment with the neurosurgeon turned sorcerer going on an unexpected journey in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Benedict Cumberbatch returns as the titular superhero, making his sixth onscreen appearance as the character finds himself a mentor of a younger generation of heroes, first to Spider-Man in No Way Home and now to America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez) in the long-awaited sequel.
“There’s a lot in here. It’s an epic film,” Cumberbatch tells ET’s Matt Cohen about the film written by Loki creator Michael Waldron and directed by Sam Raimi. “There’s no doubt about that. The scale of it is definitely in line with some of the big ensemble films we’ve seen in recent years.”
And with this film, which breaks the film and TV franchise wide open with alternate timelines and multiple dimensions, “to take the multiverse and this phase of the MCU in a new direction is really exciting for me,” the actor continues.
In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Chavez’s unexpected arrival sends Strange through space and time as he tries to protect from evil demons seeking to use the young superhero’s ability to travel through dimensions for their own bidding. The film also reunites Strange with Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen), who is still reeling from the events of WandaVision and has since become the Scarlet Witch.
As a result, the film serves up shocking cameos and epic superhero showdowns as it expands the other worlds first explored in Loki and WandaVision and capitalizes on Raimi’s horror touchstones rarely seen in any installment of the MCU.
When it comes to the dynamic between Strange and Wanda, Cumberbatch is a bit more cryptic, teasing that “there’s some stuff going on between them for sure.”
“It’s an interesting journey he goes on in this film,” he continues, noting that Strange “has made this decision to do things alone and I think he’s coming up against the fact that that’s not necessarily the best way of doing things. And even though his ego is involved, he’s kept in check by the fact he’s doing things for the greater good rather than his own career.”
And over the course of the film, especially as he gets to know Chavez and finds himself interacting with Christine Palmer (Rachel McAdams) again, “he realizes, like me in too much of a way, he’s better off doing things with others,” the actor says, rather than “holding the knife and trying to control everything.”
With the sequel, audiences not only get to see a different side of the superhero, they also get to see alternate versions of Strange – even a zombie-like one. “He’s such a fantastic character to play. I adore him and all his flaws and all his strengths,” Cumberbatch says, adding that he “enjoyed stretching this character both as the one we love and know through his journey in this film but also to explore other versions of him that have made other choices under different circumstances with different outcomes.”
He adds, “I think that’s kind of the wonderful reflection of this fantasy that this multiverse provides us… So, to see this extrapolated in this type of epic scale was great fun for the character and great fun for me as an actor.”
And stretching Cumberbatch as a performer is returning to host Saturday Night Live for a second time on May 7.
Looking back on his first experience, “I think the main takeaway is just try to enjoy it. It’s a real ride and it’s one that once you’re on it, it just goes so fast. It’s like a blink of an eye and then it’s just gone,” he teases, adding that “there’s no way of flexing that muscle or just trying your hand at it in any other realm really. So, it’s pretty unique in that experience.”
He adds, “Having done it once, I’m just hoping that I can just settle into and enjoy it even more than I did the first time.”
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is now in theaters.