Joaquin Phoenix passed on Doctor Strange

Even though Marvel fans are mostly pleased with the casting of Benedict Cumberbatch as the titular Sorcerer Supreme in the forthcoming Phase Three film Doctor Strange, there was almost another actor in the role who might have been a somewhat more interesting addition to the Marvel cinematic universe.

We know that Joaquin Phoenix was not just courted for the lead role in Doctor Strange, but he was even said to be in final talks for the Marvel Studios production. But sadly, he ended up falling away from the project. The question is why? We finally have an answer as to why Joaquin Phoenix passed on Doctor Strange, and it’s not entirely surprising.

Speaking with Time Out London, Phoenix was asked why he’s not all that interested in starring in blockbusters in general, whether it’s Doctor Strange or something else entirely:

“When I was younger I was probably a bit of a snob about [taking on blockbuster roles]. But they’ve gotten better. I’ve flirted with several of those films, having meetings and getting close, but ultimately it never felt like they’d really be fulfilling. There were too many requirements that went against my instincts for character. I’ve been spoiled. I’ve never had to make those compromises. I’ve not met a director yet with one of those films where we go through the script, they say: ‘You know what, fuck this set-piece, let’s focus on the character!’ I understand, but it’s best I don’t do it.”

Considering the kind of movies that Phoenix has starred in and the characters he’s played, it’s not surprising that he doesn’t wanted to be molded into what a hands-on studio like Marvel wants to do with the character. As an actor, Phoenix merely wants the freedom to develop the character as his own and not have any interference from executives trying to fit the character into a larger overall plan. Therefore we’re not likely to see Phoenix take on a blockbuster role anytime soon.

However, as Phoenix says, he’s not as snobbish as he once was about blockbusters. At the very least, he still likes watching them and he even calls out one movie and actor in particular for being good:

“I enjoy watching those movies. Did you see the rebooted ‘Star Trek’? That kid Chris Pine who plays Kirk is fucking genius. I just don’t know if I want to have the experience of being in them. I’ve read some of those scripts and 75 percent is a description of some asteroid going through space.”

Even when praising blockbusters, Phoenix can’t get away from the fact that there’s so much more focus on events and action than the characters. The best of the Marvel movies have a good balance of the two, but for an actor like Phoenix, that just doesn’t seem to be enough. Here’s hoping that some day the right script and the right director will get Phoenix on board a blockbuster, just to see if he can bring some gravitas to the studio scene.

Would you have liked to see Joaquin Phoenix in Doctor Strange?

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