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Tony Todd Was Almost the Voice of Dormammu in ‘Doctor Strange’

It seems that director Scott Derrickson really wasn’t sure what to do with the villain in Doctor Strange.

This is hardly surprising when you watch the finished movie. While Mads Mikkelsen’s Kaecilius (which sounds frustratingly like “ky-silly-us”) was ostensibly the major threat of the movie, there’s no satisfying defeat of the maverick sorcerer. Instead (oh, spoiler alert, by the way), Stephen Strange makes a literal deal with the devil to just “poof” away all the bad guys and reverse time to save the world.

It’s an offbeat ending for a Marvel movie, sure, although it does somewhat fit with a character who’s totally not on board with killing people if he can just annoy an all-powerful inter-dimensional being for a few centuries instead.

From the sounds of it, though Scott Derrickson really flip-flopped on his approach to Dormammu, even a few weeks before the movie was finally released.

Last week we saw some concept art that was thrown together in half an hour to try to generate some new ideas, before it was finally decided that just sticking Benedict Cumberbatch in a motion capture suit and turning him into a wispy could was the best solution.

Apparently, after doing so, Derrickson still wasn’t too thrilled with the direction that he was taking with Dormammu, and got Candyman’s Tony Todd to take a stab at voicing the character instead.

What happened next is a story in how not to treat a veteran actor, as Todd ended up quite disappointed to be cut from the final film:

“I went in to do a session to play Dormammu. Benedict had already recorded it but the producers wanted another voice just as an alternative. We did a six-hour session and then two weeks before the movie came out they let me know that they went back to the original choice. I say this just to point out to everybody that you’ve got to roll and sway with all these punches and waves that come at you. Did I cry? No. I understood. I was disappointed at the value that I lost — people going, ‘Dude, are you Dormammu?’”

Man, that sucks. Being in a Marvel movie is basically like winning the acting lottery – even if you’re only in the movie for five minutes of looped time at the end, and you only provide the voice for a character that somebody else has performed.

Quite aside from anything else, a Marvel gig means a guaranteed lifetime of income working the convention circuit, although in fairness, the guy who didn’t play Jabba the Hutt could still weasel his way into autograph sessions, Tony Todd can probably get a free pass as well.

Sure, we all love Benedict Cumberbatch. He’s very good at pretending to be an emotionless mental wizard, like a calculator with more hair, or a Sinclair ZX Spectrum with a little piggy nose.

But come on, Benny. Share the love! There aren’t enough Marvel jobs to go around without you hogging all the good motion capture roles for yourself. Two characters in one movie is a bit excessive!

So the next time you watch Doctor Strange, spare a thought for Tony Todd, who is presumably still camped outside Marvel’s head office with a boom box, hoping they’ll give him another chance.

Matthew loffhagen

Matthew Loffhagen

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