“Come on baby, light my fire.” ©Marvel Studios

We’re down to 40 more days before Benedict Cumberbatch graces the big screen again. No, not as Sherlock (98 days to 1 Jan 2017, but who’s counting?), but as Doctor Strange. It seems like an eon since we last saw those cheekbones or that intense, smouldering gaze.

But in a new interview with Empire magazine, Cumberbatch reveals that he very nearly lost the role of Stephen Strange due to a prior work commitment. And no, it wasn’t because of clashing film schedules with Sherlock.

“I really did think I had to kiss it goodbye…If you can’t jump on board when the ride’s going past, that’s usually it…so the hugest compliment [Marvel] paid me was to come back to me. It motivated me to try to fulfil their faith in me.”

Doctor Strange
“You…shall not…take my role.” ©Marvel Studios

WATCH: The ‘incredibly arrogant’ Doctor Strange finds his destiny

Originally slated to be released in the summer of 2016, Cumberbatch had to turn Doctor Strange down once he realised filming would clash with his stint as Hamlet in London’s Barbican Theatre for six weeks in late 2015.

In fact, it turns out that Cumberbatch was Marvel’s first and only choice to play the Sorceror Supreme. Director Scott Derrickson said that he met with Joaquin Phoenix, Ryan Gosling and even Jared Leto, but in his words, Cumberbatch was “the only actor we seriously considered”.

It was only after insisting on his first choice of actor that Kevin Feige and Marvel decided to push the movie to a late 2016 release – Marvel usually releases movies in late April/early May and August, so this really was a little out of sync with their usual calendar.

But all’s well that ends well. The Doctor Strange Singapore release date has been set for October 27.