Benedict Cumberbatch’s illustrious career has seen him grace various iconic franchises, from Marvel to Middle-earth, and even stepping into the shoes of the legendary Mr. Sherlock Holmes. Most recently, he ventured into the realm of Roald Dahl adaptations with his leading role in Wes Anderson’s Netflix short film, “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.” Yet, there are a couple of major franchises that Cumberbatch has yet to be a part of, despite opportunities knocking at his door.
It might be common knowledge that the Doctor Strange actor declined the chance to portray an iconic Star Wars antagonist. However, long before that, he turned down the opportunity to become the next Doctor Who, despite his close friend David Tennant extending an open invitation to claim the coveted mantle of the time-traveling Time Lord. The reason behind Cumberbatch’s decision carries a touch of irony, especially considering his eventual trajectory within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Back in September 2011, Cumberbatch made a revelation on The Jonathan Ross Show, disclosing that he had passed up the chance to audition for the role of the Eleventh Doctor, ultimately secured by Matt Smith. Tennant, a dear friend, had encouraged him to try out, but Cumberbatch opted not to, citing the immense shoes he felt he would have to fill. He expressed a sense of kinship with Tennant, rather than with Smith.
So, why did Cumberbatch shy away from wielding the iconic sonic screwdriver? His reluctance stemmed from an aversion to being plastered on “the flask” and featured on “the school lunch box.” He had no aspiration to play a character whose image was so ubiquitously marketed.
Reflecting on this choice, it’s ironic to note that Cumberbatch’s perspective has evidently evolved over time. Presently, he is most readily recognized as Stephen Strange, a Marvel superhero — a character who has undoubtedly graced countless kids’ lunchboxes. In a delightful twist of fate, David Tennant, the very friend who once encouraged him to consider the role of the Doctor, has now reclaimed the title himself, set to appear in Doctor Who’s upcoming 60th-anniversary specials. This marks the commencement of a significant collaboration between the BBC and Disney, a development that few could have foreseen.