7 Actors Almost Cast as the MCU Sorcerer

The MCU is full of iconic heroes. From Iron Man to Black Panther, the list of superheroes is ever-growing, and the execs at Marvel are continuing to bring as many to live-action as possible. While some decisions for who will play a hero are easy, like Robert Downey Jr. perfectly cast as Tony Stark, other casting choices are not so simple. For example, there were over 10 actors considered for Spider-Man before Tom Holland was finally chosen. This is the case with many of the heroes within the MCU, including Doctor Stephen Strange.

With the release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness on its way, it’s important for us to remember that the Doctor Strange we all know and love could have been portrayed by a different actor. That would have led to not only a different portrayal of Stephen Strange, but the absence of Benedict Cumberbatch in the MCU. Here are 7 actors who were almost cast as Doctor Strange.

Related: 10 Actors Who Were Almost Cast in Major MCU Roles

7 Joaquin Phoenix

Warner Bros.

Known for his performances in films like Joker spirit Gladiator, Joaquin Phoenix is a highly revered actor. Phoenix was in fact the very first actor that Marvel pursued to play the role of Doctor Strange. Reportedly, the deal to have the Joker actor star as Strange almost went through until Phoenix changed his mind at the realization of how much energy taking on the role would consume. Additionally, Phoenix also was not too keen on the idea that he would have to commit to star in a number of MCU releases over the years. Ultimately, the actor turned down the role, preferring to focus on indie efforts rather than Marvel blockbusters, though he, according to his interview with Little White Lies, does “enjoy those movies sometimes.”

6 Jared Leto

Jared Leto as Morbius
Sony Pictures Releasing

Jared Leto was considered for the role of Doctor Strange after his Oscar win for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club. Leto wound up not playing the role of Strange and instead took on the mighty task of playing the Joker in Suicide Squadwhich was in production at the same time as Doctor Strange. While Leto may not be playing the beloved MCU sorcerer, he has made a Marvel-related appearance in Morbius as the title character, entering the SSU and potentially even becoming a part of the MCU. It’s difficult to imagine anyone else but Benedict Cumberbatch in the role, but Leto would certainly have brought something interesting to the character with his method acting skills.

5 Ryan Gosling

La La Land
Summit Entertainment

Ryan Gosling has become a household name in Hollywood. From his outstanding performance in the classic romanceThe Notebook to his newest iteration of a police replicant in Blade Runner 2049, Gosling has proven his worth as an actor who is capable of taking on any role. After Phoenix turned down the role, Gosling approached the Marvel execs to talk about potentially taking on the role while also wanting to play the Flash in Justice League. There was even early concept art that showed what Gosling almost looked like as Doctor Strange. While neither of these came to fruition, had he been given these roles, we may not have gotten his phenomenal performance in La La Land.

4 Ethan Hawke

Ethan Hawke as Arthur Harrow in Moon Knight
Marvel Studios

Similarly to Phoenix, Ethan Hawke has claimed that he was very close to getting the part of Stephen Strange, as he was one of the first to be approached after Phoenix rejected the role. Hawke has stated to Collider that he suspected one of the main reasons he did not get the role was his lack of fan base, unlike Benedict Cumberbatch who accumulated a fanbase thanks to his performance on the TV series Sherlock. Hawke also stated that his name is not a big box-office draw and would not have drawn in as big of an audience as the studio wanted. That said, Hawke has recently gained a role as Arthur Harrow in the newly released Disney + original series Moon Knightbecoming a part of the MCU.

Related: Black Widow: These Actresses Almost Played Yelena Belova

3 Ewan McGregor


This Hollywood veteran is best known for his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi, a role which he is set to reprise this Spring in the new series Obi-Wan Kenobi. There was a mutual interest in Ewan McGregor taking on the role, for obvious reasons. McGregor admitted that he was excited about the idea of ​​taking on a superhero character, a role he had never played before. When push came to shove, McGregor stated that his lack of comic book knowledge is most likely what took him out of the running as he knew little about the character and role he plays within the Marvel Universe. That said, seeing McGregor as Stephen Strange would certainly change our view on both the actor and the character.

2 Jake Gyllenhaal

Marvel Studios / Sony

Jake Gyllenhall is another who was considered for the role of Doctor Strange. With a long history of working on dark films like Donnie Darko spirit Enemy, taking on the role of a superhero would have been a bit of a departure for Gyllenhaal. Gyllenhaal was on the shortlist for the role, but he did not make it very far in the casting process, with producers thinking him not to be a good fit. While this was yet another disappointment for Gyllenhaal, after he was almost cast to replace Tobey Maguire in Spider-Man 2the actor went on to star in Nocturnal Animals. Gyllenhaal later joined the MCU in Spider-Man: Far From Homeportraying the character of Quentin Beck / Mysterio.

1 Patrick Dempsey


Most known for his role as Dr. Derek Shepherd AKA McDreamy in the long-running TV series Grey’s Anatomy, Patrick Dempsey has carved a name for himself in Hollywood that everyone recognizes. Before his run on the show came to an abrupt and emotional end, Dempsey was looking at getting back into films, as he had in the past, with a special interest in Doctor Strange. When discussing the potential of the project, Dempsey spoke about how great it would be to give the character a TV show, but Marvel had other ideas. Dempsey went on to star in the sequel to Bridget Jones’ Diary, Bridget Jones’ Baby in 2016 and is lined up to reprise his role in the Enchanted sequel Disenchantedset to be released on Disney + sometime in 2022.


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