At the beginning of the year, Scarlet Witch actress Elizabeth Olsen spoke about her time filming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and how "only until before we even went back to finish WandaVision during the pandemic that I found out what I am doing in Doctor Strange 2."
However, Olsen also described how "we’re [the actors] always giving notes and they [the director and crew] are very kind to welcome opinions and thoughts, and so it’s always an evolution even while you’re filming."
In July, Benedict Wong, who recently brought back his character, Wong, in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, spoke about his own experience on set and how Sam Raimi allowed his actors to improvise, saying, "I like throwing alts, and he [Sam Raimi] likes them, so we just have a bit of a laugh."
Now, in a new interview with actor Benedict Cumberbatch who plays Doctor Strange, he also expressed how this freedom was allotted to the actors by Raimi.
Ending Wasn't Done When Cumberbatch Started
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Benedict Cumberbatch spoke about when he received the news of Scott Derickson leaving as the original director of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
While Cumberbatch was "sad to hear about it," he knew "it was done very amicably:"
"I was sad to hear about it, but that was not my decision... I completely respected the studio’s decision, and it was done very amicably. The grown-ups called and just talked me through it. And that was that.”
When Sam Raimi was brought on board, Cumberbatch said, “He was an assured pair of hands, who knew that world.” Cumberbatch went on to describe how much of Raimi's style seeped into the Doctor Strange sequel:
“He’s got certain Raimi traits. The smashed-zoom close-up. The mixture of just on the level of horror and just on the level of camp. There’s fun in there, but there should be some real thrills as well.”
However, something that Cumberbatch appreciated from the veteran director was the encouragement to improvise, saying, “With the first film, you’re always locked into a script, because it’s the origin story.”
Compared to Cumberbatch's origin film, he felt there was "a lot more freedom this time around" but that it did have a work environment of doing production "on a wing and a prayer sometimes" with writing for the third act not being solidified when he began filming:
“But there was a lot more freedom this time around. I guess, because we were … not literally making it up as we go along, but sometimes it feels like that. Marvel has this amazing ability to come into production: ‘We really just have to start shooting now. It doesn’t matter that the third act is not quite where you want it to be.’ You really do things on a wing and a prayer sometimes.”
Winging It Until the Final MCU Act
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness has certainly had a turbulent development with it being one of the few times a director has left a project. The other times were Patty Jenkins leaving Thor: The Dark World and Edgar Wright departing Ant-Man. Although, it's good to hear from Cumberbatch that Derickson's leaving was amicable.
This meant that essentially the entire script had to be rewritten in a short amount of time. However, the ongoing pandemic was actually a blessing in disguise for the production, giving writer Michael Waldron and director Sam Raimi more time to develop it. So, it's understandable, even when filming began after being delayed, that the script still wasn't ironed out quite yet.
Hopefully, it all worked out, and fans will see all this improvement on display when Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hits theaters on March 25, 2022.