Joaquin Phoenix Turned Down the Role of Doctor Strange

Matt Winkelmeyer, Getty Images
Matt Winkelmeyer, Getty Images / Matt Winkelmeyer, Getty Images

It’s always interesting to hear about casting could've-beens in your favorite movies. Of course it’s no secret that landing a star can take a very long time, and that any one movie could have a bevy of actors lined up as potential stars. But could you imagine Joaquin Phoenix as Doctor Strange in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?

In 2014, it was reported that Phoenix was in final negotiations for the lead in Doctor Strange, even while other names like Jack Huston (and, of course, Benedict Cumberbatch) were still being cited as "under consideration." While Phoenix had never really seemed to show an interest in getting into the comic book movie world, the actor recently had a few things to say about his past brush with superheroism.

“I think they make some great, fun movies,” Phoenix told Little White Lies about the MCU. “I'm not a snob ... I enjoy those movies sometimes, and I think they keep the f**king industry going in some ways, so I don't have a problem with it at all."

While the role ultimately went to Cumberbatch, Phoenix says that he thinks "everybody was really happy with how things turned out. All parties were satisfied.”

Phoenix didn’t elaborate on what exactly happened with the role of Stephen Strange, or where negotiations broke down, but he did make it clear that there’s no bad blood between him and the studio. And just a few years later, he finally did get his chance at starring in a superhero film—though this time for DC Comics, and as one of pop culture's most notorious villains.

The 44-year-old actor will play the Joker in Todd Phillips's The Joker, which is set to hit theaters on October 4, 2019.