Benedict Cumberbatch Reveals The Shocking Moment He Improvised In No Way Home

He made it all up.

By Michileen Martin | Published

benedict cumberbatc h spider-man: no way home

In spite of their cooperation in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War and the 2019 follow up Avengers: Endgame, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange don’t get along for most of Spider-Man: No Way Home. By the end of the film, Strange’s feelings toward Tom Holland’s hero have changed for the better, however, and Strange lets him know before casting the spell that makes everyone in the world forget Peter Parker. Now, in the lead up to the full home release of the film, Benedict Cumberbatch has admitted he actually improvised that final, heartfelt speech to his fellow Avenger.

Benedict Cumberbatch was speaking to Collider last week when the subject of No Way Home came up. He said the scene in question was one that was shot during reshoots, and that Tom Holland was struggling with the script. Cumberbatch said, “I came up with this idea of, to show that I love him, I didn’t want him to make the sacrifice of being forgotten.” He added that after they shot the scene, director Jon Watts assured Cumberbatch it was going to be in the finished film.

The dialogue Benedict Cumberbatch is referring to comes after Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe) and the other villains from the Garfield/Maguire films are defeated, but Strange finds he can’t hold back the countless other villains from alternate timelines who are fighting to get through. Parker tells Strange to cast a spell making everyone forget who Peter Parker is. Strange initially refuses and Parker says, “But it would work, right?” Then comes the part Cumberbatch improvised. He tells Peter, “Yeah, it would work. But you’ve got to understand that would mean everyone who knows and loves you, we–” he pauses, clearly emotional and probably a little embarrassed. He continues, “We’d have no memory of you. It’d be as though you never existed.”

Benedict Cumberbatch aims a lot of credit at the director of Jon Watts, who directed all three of the MCU Spider-Man films. He told Collider, “[John Watts] is fantastic… He manages the tone so beautifully, all the time, and yet is still so nimble. Great directors are able to throw aside a piece of script or a big set piece and go, ‘Oh, maybe that’s the story there.'”

benedict cumberbatch avengers: infinity war

It isn’t the first time a memorable Marvel scene was improvised, or even when it was Benedict Cumberbatch who was doing to ad-libbing. Back in September, he said he improvised the moment in Infinity War when he calls Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark a “douchebag.” He said the ad-lib caused “a ripple effect” on set, surprising everyone including Downey. It was, he told THR, a result of his being “bored of being compared to Liberace” without throwing in a few digs of his own.

Benedict Cumberbatch told Collider that it was on Infinity War that he learned a lot about the joy of improvisation. He said, “seeing how at ease [Tom Holland] was, just in improvising about Aunt May with Robert Downey Jr. He did this thing which wasn’t scripted at all. I’m quite a canon guy. It’s about the text for me. To be free with that and to have some maneuverability in it and to be able to improvise, and on such a large canvas, was a real eye-opener.”

It will be interesting to see how much improvisation Benedict Cumberbatch brings to the table for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The second solo outing for the Master of the Mystic Arts arrives in theaters on May 6. Directed by Sam Raimi and written by Michael Waldron, the film stars Cumberbatch, Elizabeth Olsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Wong, Xochitl Gomez, Michael Stuhlbarg, and Rachel McAdams. Not to mention there’s a long list of actors rumored to be appearing as alternate timeline versions of Marvel heroes, including Patrick Stewart reprising the role of Professor X.