Tilda Swinton says 'Doctor Strange' casting debate was 'hot, sticky, gnarly moment'

·Contributor
·2 min read
<p>Tilda has the snip and went hairless opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in the blazingly successful Doctor Strange. </p>
Tilda Swinton was 'The Ancient One' in Doctor Strange. (Marvel/Disney)

Tilda Swinton has admitted the controversy around her being cast in 2016 movie Doctor Strange was a “hot, sticky, gnarly moment”.

The Marvel film was accused of ‘whitewashing’ when Scottish star Swinton was cast as The Ancient One - who in the comics is a Tibetan mystic - instead of an Asian actor.

At the time, Marvel said they were proud to have Swinton in the role but earlier this year Marvel boss Kevin Feige implied that it may not have been the best decision.

Read more: Tilda Swinton: I never had any ambition as an artist

Swinton, 60, has now told Variety she is “grateful” for Feige speaking out.

English actress Tilda Swinton at the 77 Venice International Film Festival 2020. The Human Voice Red Carpet. Venice (Italy), September 3rd, 2020 (Photo by Rocco Spaziani/Mondadori Portfolio/Sipa USA)
Tilda Swinton starred with Benedict Cumberbatch in the film. (Mondadori Portfolio/Sipa USA)

The star said she recalled "having a question mark in my own mind" at the time.

Swinton said there was initially "widespread welcome" but it "shifted at a certain point, for very good reasons with which I had an enormous amount of sympathy".

Amid the backlash at the time, the actor reached out to comedian Margaret Cho, who is of Korean descent, to get her take on the situation.

However, Cho was later quoted as saying that the whole thing made her feel like a “house Asian”.

Swinton has now told Variety that it was a "questionable decision to reach out to somebody in a certain way, which was naive and clearly confusing, because their misunderstanding came about because of it".

Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange (Credit: Marvel/Disney)
Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange. (Marvel/Disney)

The star - who shared the screen with Benedict Cumberbatch in the movie - went on: "I was embarrassed that I had maybe gone up a blind alley in starting the correspondence in the first place - maybe I had confused matters - but beyond that, I have zero regrets.”

Read more: Every Disney film release date confirmed until 2028

Feige addressed the casting controversy earlier this year during a chat with Men’s Health.

He said: “We’re not going to do the cliché of the wizened, old, wise Asian man. But it was a wake-up call to say, ‘Well, wait a minute, is there any other way to figure it out? Is there any other way to both not fall into the cliché and cast an Asian actor?’ 

"And the answer to that, of course, is yes."

Watch: Tilda Swinton identifies as queer

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting