Doctor Strange writer defends Tilda Swinton casting

  • Bang Showbiz
  • 26 April 2016
Tilda Swinton

Tilda Swinton

'Doctor Strange' writer C. Robert Cargill has defended director Scott Derrickson's decision to cast Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One, who is usually depicted as an elderly Asian man in the Marvel comics

'Doctor Strange' writer C. Robert Cargill has defended the decision to cast Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One.

The screenwriter insists director Scott Derrickson was in an "unwinnable" situation when deciding on who would portray the character, who is usually depicted as an elderly Asian man who lives in Tibet in the Marvel comics.

And he has hit out at the criticism of the casting of the Hollywood star, who will portray a white figure who lives in Kathmandu, Nepal, when she takes on the role in the forthcoming film, in which Benedict Cumberbatch will play the titular role.

He said: "There is no other character in Marvel history that is such a cultural landmine, that is absolutely unwinnable.

"I've been reading a bunch of people talking about it, and the really frustrating thing about it this week is that, most of the people who have thoughts on it haven't thought it all the way through.

"And they go, 'Well, why didn't they just do this?' And it's like, I could tell you why every single decision which involves the Ancient One is a bad one."

Cargill also insists Derrickson - who he co-wrote the movie with - couldn't risk upsetting China by turning the casting of the Ancient One into something "political".

Speaking on the Double Toasted podcast, he added: "The Ancient One was a racist stereotype, who comes from a region of the world that is in very weird political place.

"He originates from Tibet, so if you acknowledge that Tibet is a place, and that he is Tibetan, you risk alienating one billion people who think that that's bulls**t and risk the Chinese government going, 'Hey, you know, one of the biggest film-watching countries in the world? We're not going to show your movie because you decided to get political.'

"So, what Scott decided to do - and this happened before I came onboard, so I wasn't part of this decision at all, although there's part of me that wishes I was - was, he was just like, 'There's no real way to win this, so let's use this as an opportunity to cast an amazing actress in a male role.'"

Doctor Strange

  • 4 stars
  • 2016
  • US
  • 1h 55min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Scott Derrickson
  • Written by: Steve Ditko, Thomas Dean Donnelly, Joshua Oppenheimer, Jon Spaihts
  • Cast: Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams
  • UK release: 28 October 2016

When brilliant but arrogant neurosurgeon Stephen Strange (Cumberbatch) gets his hands mangled in a car crash, he visits Kathmandu to be reborn under the mystic tutelage of the Ancient One (Swinton). A blast: fresh performances from Cumberbatch and Swinton power a dynamic script with well-measured puns and even a little…

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