Add Jessica Chastain to the list of actors who turned down the Marvel Cinematic Universe, inarguably the most dominant franchise at the worldwide box office. During a recent appearance on his Sticher podcast “Junkfood Cinema” (via The Independent), “Doctor Strange” screenwriter C. Robert Cargill revealed Marvel was courting Chastain to star as love interest Christine Palmer opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in the 2016 MCU tentpole. The role eventually went to Rachel McAdams. According to Cargill, Chastain rejected the offer because she had no interest in joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe as just an ordinary human character.
“She’s like, ‘Hey, look, this project sounds awesome, and I would love to do it. But I’m only going to get one shot at being in a Marvel film and becoming a Marvel character; and I trained in ballet, and I really want to wear a cape,’” Cargill said. “It’s the coolest rejection ever…She wanted to be in a Marvel movie, but she wanted to be the superhero, not the badass doctor Night Nurse.”
Chastain would go on to make her comic book movie debut in “Dark Phoenix,” playing the villainous shape-shifting alien Vuk. That Fox-backed superhero tentpole was an infamous critical and box office bomb in summer 2019, tapping out with just $250 million globally on a $200 million production budget. “Doctor Strange” was a hit in fall 2016. The Marvel film made $677 million worldwide and will be getting an upcoming sequel entitled “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
The “Doctor Strange” sequel is expected to take the MCU into horror territory and will pair Cumberbatch’s eponymous hero with Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch. McAdams is not expected to reprise her role as Christine Palmer in the film, which will find “Spider-Man” helmer Sam Raimi replacing Scott Derrickson in the director’s chair. Cargill is also not involved with the final version as Michael Waldron, the screenwriter behind the MCU Disney+ series “Loki,” is rewriting the sequel script.
While Chastain passed on the MCU, she’s had success in other studio fare such as “It: Chapter Two.” The actress is set to appear opposite Andrew Garfield later this year in Searchlight’s biographical drama “The Eyes of Tammy Faye” and also has the action vehicle “355” in the pipeline.