Meet the Director of Marvel’s Dr. Strange: Interview with Scott Derrickson
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I was invited on an all-expenses paid trip with Disney for the opportunity of meeting/interviewing the cast and attending screening events. All opinions are my own.
What a privilege to meet MARVEL’s Doctor Strange film director Scott Derrickson. I’ve only had the opportunity one other time in my life to talk with a film director and they always amaze me….Scott was no different. The clear vision he had for this project was absolutely amazing and inspiring. He’s certainly an intensely creative person who can take an idea and turn it into an award winning creation. It was phenomenal to see how his mind works and spend a few minutes chatting with him. Below is some of our questions and answers with him.
Interview with Director Scott Derrickson:
Q: Can you tell us just how much work went into the special effects?
A: A lot. The visual effects — it was a long time developing them. It was one of the most creative parts of the whole process, because the idea going into it was to use visual effects for a new reason than what you usually get in big event movies. In big event movies, even in Marvel movies, special effects are usually used to destroy things. It’s about destroying cities — because that’s what creates screen stimulus. And I just felt committed to the idea of using those big expensive visual effects for something else, something new, something more interesting, and specifically, something trippy, and weird. And to give the audience an unexpected experience.
Q: Is there any time that you guys thought about trying to update the music, something for the modern audience? Or was there always this kind of throwback to the 60’s?
A: Well the 60’s comics were the primary influence for the movie, for sure. Those early Stan Lee, Steve Ditko comics, which were very much products of the 60’s. Psychedelic weird imagery of the movie is so rooted in the Steve Ditko artwork from that era. I listened to almost nothing but psychedelic rock from that era while I was working on this screenplay.
What I wanted to do was to not make a throwback movie, or a nostalgic movie. I didn’t want to try to go back and recapture the 60’s revolution feel. I wanted to have that same mindset of open your mind, expand your mind, see things new. To look at a new aesthetic and explore possibilities. The goal was to take that 60’s mentality and then bring it into a modern superhero movie and do it with a character who was about something meaningful.
Q: What spurred your decision for choosing a woman to be The Ancient One?
A: That choice was twofold. The first reason was because I was trying to find creative ways, and positive ways to escape the racial stereotypes from the original comics. You know, they were products of the 60’s for good and bad. For bad, the Ancient One and Wong, those two characters were, were pretty offensive racial stereotypes, by modern standards.
Wong’s character, I was able to completely reinvent. I sort of inverted his character. Everything about his character in the comics, I just flipped on its head. Instead of a man servant he’s a master of the mystic arts. Instead of a sidekick he’s Strange’s intellectual mentor. With the Ancient One, I couldn’t really do that. The Ancient One in the story still had to be a magical, mystical, domineering, martial arts mentor, to Doctor Strange. The first thing I wanted to do is make it a woman. I thought, okay, that’s fresh. And I did that to get away from the cliché and the stereotype, but I also did that because I wanted a woman Tilda’s age. I wanted a woman who wasn’t the 26 year old, tightly leather clad, you know, hot, fan boy dream girl. I wanted to have a real woman in the movie in terms of trying to get diversity in there.
On Perfecting the Doctor Strange film:
On Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One: “I didn’t feel like anybody but her could do the role as I, as I wrote it.”
On the cast: “This is very rare, but the five lead roles….we got our first choice on every one of them. That almost never happens — I don’t think that’s ever happened for me.”
On his motivation for making the film: “My biggest personal motive for making the movie is that I have two boys who are now 13 and 10…..they were 11 and 8 when I started. I wanted to make a movie that would surprise them, but also a movie that would leave an impression on them, of what I think are some of the most important things in life.”
On being hired as the director: “I went after the job really hard. Like, really hard. I had eight meetings to get the job. It’s a very thorough process they go through, in hiring their directors. I grew up with Marvel comics. Doctor Strange is my favorite comic. When I heard they were making it I felt like it was the only comic book character I was uniquely suited to do. I had my own opinion about what a Doctor Strange movie should be, and I felt very strongly about it. When I went in for the first meeting, I was amazed at how in line my thinking about the comic was with theirs. And that was the point where I just like a switch flipped in my brain, and I just said, I’m getting this job, and I’m going to outwork everyone on the presentation. I illustrated it and I spent a lot of money on the visual concept art. I went in with a full vision and just said, here’s what a Doctor Strange movie should be. They were in alignment with it. I just love it. I love that comic so much. And the movie is so true to the comics. It obviously feels the way the comics feel, and is true to that origin story.”
On the film’s visual effects: “I don’t think that we could’ve done that, even three or four years ago. It’s like visual effects have finally caught up with Steve Ditko! The time was right. It’s finally time we can do this kind of crazy stuff.”
Q: What is your favorite scene in the movie?
A: (You’ll have to come back after November 4th to find out the answer to this question so there are no spoiler alerts!)
Q: What inspiration do you want people to take away from the movie? (this was my question!)
A: (OH NO! Another spoiler alert – come back after November 4th to find out this extraordinary answer!)