Joaquin Phoenix on why he's reluctant to make franchise films like Doctor Strange

Contributed by
Sep 2, 2015

These days, we know that Benedict Cumberbatch is playing Doctor Stephen Strange in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that he'll be getting his first feature film late next year. That's certainly exciting, but many of us are still thinking about what might have been had the role gone to another actor. Back in the summer of 2014, as Marvel's San Diego Comic-Con Hall H panel approached, rumors swirled that the role had been offered to Joaquin Phoenix, and that if all went according to plan he would walk out onto the Hall H stage to introduce himself to the fans.

That didn't happen, and for a while it seemed like it was only a matter of time before Phoenix and Marvel straightened out the contract and got this particular bit of casting done. Then, just like that, Phoenix was out, Cumberbatch was in, and the trajectory of Doctor Strange was altered. At the time, many speculated that Phoenix just didn't want to make such a massive commitment to a multi-film Marvel deal in which he'd constantly be dealing with FX-driven blockbusters. Now, in a new interview, Phoenix himself is explaining his reluctance.

Though he doesn't mention Doctor Strange specifically (the interviewer does), Phoenix did elaborate on his blockbuster reluctance in a new interview with Time Out London, in which he talked about the fear of digging into such a set-piece-based role.

"When I was younger I was probably a bit of a snob about that. But they’ve (blockbusters) 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, f**k this set-piece, let’s focus on the character!' I understand, but it’s best I don’t do it."

Phoenix went on to elaborate that he does enjoy various blockbuster movies, but that he's torn between his own commitment to characters and his desire to fulfill the "obligations" such a film would impose on him. Marvel movies, like many franchises, carry with them certain character responsibilities that are definitely predetermined, even beyond the script, and it takes a certain kind of actor to be comfortable with that. Phoenix is not sure he's one of them.

"I’m just trying to find what works for me. I don’t want to commit to something and not fulfil those obligations. I enjoy watching those movies. Did you see the rebooted Star Trek? That kid Chris Pine who plays Kirk is f*****g 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."

So, what many suspected turns out to be true. Joaquin Phoenix just isn't sure he's up for the very specific demands of blockbuster filmmaking, and for the moment, he'd rather go his own way.

(Via Time Out London)

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