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says. “I felt like the extremity of one gave permission for the extremity of the other. It’s very easy when you’re making movies of this size, these kind of giant tentpole Hollywood movies and we’ve all seen it happen over and over again, but it’s really easy for a filmmaker or a studio to kind of lose control or track of what target they were trying to hit in the first place. And going into this it was very clear to me what target we were trying to hit.”

the end, even the best director relies on his cast to carry the vision across the finish line. No decision was more important than who was going to be chosen to play Dr. Strange. A choice that went to English actor Benedict Cumberbatch. Derrickson remembers, “He was my first choice and he was [producer] Kevin Feige’s first choice. We wanted him right away. I think Kevin was the first one to bring him up and it was probably within minutes I was like, ‘It’s just not going to get better than that.’ I’d seen all the Sherlock

Derrickson (right) works with Cumberbatch on the film's set.

as The Ancient One to be another example of Hollywood’s “whitewashing” issue. Because the Ancient One was originally a Tibetan-born male, critics accused Marvel Studios of erasing Asian characters.

"IT'S A MOV IE A BOU T MOR A L COMPLEXITIES. A ND I THINK I ALSO CHANGED A LOT OF THINGS ABOUT M Y S E L F A N D T H E WAY I WA S L I V I N G A N D T R Y I N G T O E VO LV E M O R E A S A P E R S O N — E VO LV E M O R E S P I R I T UA L LY."

episodes, I’d seen The Imitation Game, and I flew to London and offered him the role. “He wanted to do it. I had a summer release date and there was just no way to make it work practically because he had committed to Hamlet in London. When I came back, Marvel and Disney were like, ‘We’ve got a great date in the summer.’ So I met with a bunch of other actors, and came back to Kevin and said, ‘It’s just got to be Benedict. He is Dr. Strange.’ Kevin, to his credit, pushed the release date for Benedict.” The hype surrounding Doctor Strange hasn’t been without controversy. Many considered the casting of actress Tilda Swinton

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In the midst of the rumpus, Marvel released the following statement: “The Ancient One is a title that is not exclusively held by any one character, but rather a moniker passed down through time, and in this particular film the embodiment is Celtic,” adding that the studio routinely casts diverse talent for its projects and “regularly departs from stereotypes and source material to bring its MCU to life.” Derrickson himself tweeted, “Raw anger/hurt from Asian-Americans over Hollywood whitewashing, stereotyping & erasure of Asians in cinema. I’m listening and learning.”

Spend any time talking to Derrickson and you’ll find this sentiment to be indicative of his thoughtful and introspective nature. It’s no wonder that Doctor Strange would play a dramatic part in his own personal growth. In a contemplative moment he says, “It’s not a movie about simplistic moral perspective. It’s a movie about complexities—moral complexities. And I think I also changed a lot of things about myself and the way that I was living and trying to evolve more as a person—evolve more spiritually— as I was making a movie about a character who’s self-centered and successful and quite oblivious to the areas in which his life was meaningless and soulless. “It was a really beautiful growing process for me as an individual to go through this whole arduous journey of making a movie this size about a character of growth. It was psychedelic and invigorating and traumatic and extremely fun. And I certainly have come out the other side a different person as a result of it. And that’s what you hope for when you invest two years into a creative project.”

JAYSON D. BR ADLE Y is a God-botherer, writer, sinner, husband, dreamer, father, musician and audiophile. He blogs at jaysondbradley.com.

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RELEVANT-Issue 84- November/December 2016  
RELEVANT-Issue 84- November/December 2016