Doctor Strange is arguably the most fantastical of all Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, and that’s saying something. The movie’s extensive use of magic often blends science fiction with its mystical aspects, not the least of which are explored through the presence of multiple dimensions. The sinister Dark Dimension was home to Doctor Strange’s cosmic supervillain, Dormammu, who faces off against the titular hero (played by Benedict Cumberbatch).
In a way, Cumberbatch did the scene all on his own. He did the motion capture for Dormammu’s face, and also performed the villain’s voice – which was mixed with another uncredited British actor. But the movie didn’t always have Cumberbatch pegged to play both the hero and villain. Dormammu could have not only looked differently, he could have sounded differently – because the role almost went to veteran horror and sci-fi actor Tony Todd.
In an interview with CBR, Todd revealed that he recorded voiceovers for Dormammu for six hours only to be told that he ultimately did not get the role – just weeks before the movie’s November release.
“I have to tell you about one recent disappointment. I almost did Doctor Strange. I went in to do a session to play Dormammu. Benedict [Cumberbatch] had already recorded it but the producers wanted another voice just as an alternative. We did a six-hour session and then two weeks before the movie came out they let me know that they went back to the original choice. I say this just to point out to everybody that you’ve got to roll and sway with all these punches and waves that come at you. Did I cry? No. I understood. I was disappointed at the value that I lost — people going, ‘Dude, are you Dormammu?’ [Laughs] But there’ll be another Dormammu.”
Todd is best known for his portrayal of the titular villain in the Candyman horror franchise, but he’s no stranger to doing voiceovers – even recently. He provided the voice of Zoom in an uncredited role on The Flash, and also voiced Dreadwing on the Transformers: Prime animated series and Darkseid in multiple animated features based on LEGO D.C. Superheroes.
Those familiar with Todd’s voice know that he would have been a fitting addition to the cast of Doctor Strange had he ended up voicing Dormammu. The massive effects and overdubbing applied to the villain’s voice ultimately made Cumberbatch and the other unknown actor virtually unrecognizable, but a booming voice like Todd’s may have been more distinctive.
Since there are apparently six hours of voice recordings featuring Todd hiding somewhere in the Marvel Entertainment archives, Todd’s voice work for Dormammu could make for quite an entertaining special feature. His longtime fans are sure to be disappointed to know how close he came to being involved, but he continues to lend his voice and commanding presence to so much other work that it’s hard to miss him. With plenty more Marvel movies still on the way, perhaps there’s still a future for Todd in the MCU.