Screenwriter C. Robert Cargill Defends Doctor Strange Casting Decision

Posted on April 25, 2016

Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange screenwriter C. Robert Cargill has been getting a lot of grief over the casting of Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One in the upcoming Doctor Strange movie. In the comics on which the film is based, The Ancient One is Tibetan. So casting Tilda Swinton really threw some fans for a loop. Other argue it's refreshing to rewrite the role as a woman and that no one does Otherworldly better than Tilda.

Cargill spoke toThe Hollywood Reporter about the reasons for the change and he has quite a bit to say about it. For one thing, he says you can't cast The Ancient One as Tibetan without getting completely censored in China, which has now become the biggest movie market prize after the U.S. The Chinese government does not recognize Tibet as a country and will not show any film that it deems as "political." He says that the way the original character was written was itself a racist stereotype.

He next addresses why they could not get an Asian actor to play the role: "If you are telling me you think it's a good idea to cast a Chinese actress as a Tibetan character, you are out of your damn fool mind and have no idea what the f- you're talking about." He says the final decision was up to the director, Scott Derrickson, and that any decision they made was going to garner lots of criticism.

In a recent appearance on the podcast Double Toasted he explained, "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, 'Why didn't they just do this?' And it's like, I could tell you why. I could tell you why every single decision that involves the Ancient One is a bad one, and just like the Kobayashi Maru, it all comes down onto which way you’re willing to lose."

Ah, the "no win scenario." He also says that they considered every single possible scenario for the casting and went with what they thought was best. As for Tilda Swinton -- she recently told Den of Geek, "The script that I was presented with did not feature an Asian man for me to play, so that was never a question when I was being asked to do it... It all will be revealed when you see the film, I think."

Photo: Marvel

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