Meet the Reporter Who First Tipped Benedict Cumberbatch to Doctor Strange

Our chat with Geoff Boucher.

It’s a nice reminder of the Brit-cool of Benedict Cumberbatch that the actor is happy to give credit to the person who first turned him on to the idea of possibly portraying Doctor Strange. Talking recently to a group of mommy bloggers, the actor was pretty sure it was a Los Angeles Times reporter who made the initial suggestion. It’s one of several current interviews during which Cumberbatch talks about his latest movie’s highly unusual origins.

We did a bit of digging and, sure enough, it was an L.A. Times staffer. The journalist with the Marvel-ous sense of casting is Geoff Boucher, at the time overseer of the paper’s Hero Complex section. (Part of Cumberbatch’s hesitation likely comes from the fact that Boucher subsequently moved on to EW and now freelance.)

“The conversation [referenced by Cumberbatch] did [indeed] take place on the rooftop of Bad Robot,” Boucher tells FishbowlNY via email. “But it was actually the second time I mentioned to him that he might be perfect as Marvel’s magic man.”

“The first time I interviewed Benedict was in Venice for Sherlock and we really hit it off,” he continues. “Later that night, I was doing a stage interview with Michael Mann at the Egyptian Theatre and Benedict tagged along to watch and then we both had a late dinner at Musso and Frank’s with the director and his family. It was there and then I mentioned to Benedict that he would be great as Doctor Strange or as another supernatural comics creation, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.”

“That night though, Benedict seemed more intrigued with Mann’s notions about making a Western. I think he pictured himself more at ease in a saddle than a cape at that time.”

Boucher crossed paths again with Cumberbatch at the recent Doctor Strange junket. The film opens today, with a Rotten Tomatoes rating currently sitting at 90%.

A colleague of Boucher’s, Fandango correspondent Tiffany Smith, started off her allotted time with Cumberbatch at the Doctor Strange junket by asking, “What was it about this character in particular that made you, ‘Yes, I want to do the superhero thing?”’ Her reaction to his mention, once again, of Boucher is great.*

Boucher tells us that in addition to freelancing, he is also currently doing some teaching at places including UCLA. Meanwhile, we couldn’t help notice the top comment left below Boucher’s aforementioned piece about Sherlock, by user @cranberrybear. Great brains think alike!

*Correction (5:00 p.m.):
The reporter referenced in the Fandango clip above is not Boucher but rather Jim Vejvoda, executive editor of IGN Movies. He kindly alerted us via Twitter. FishbowlNY apologizes for the error.

While the first conversation with Cumberbatch that Boucher references occurred in May 2012, it seems more than one reporter at the Bad Robot end in December of that same year brought up the Doctor Strange idea. Check out Vejvoda’s discussion with Cumberbatch at the recent Doctor Strange junket of his parallel part in all this.