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[Video] Sam Raimi Says He Now Believes In Alternate Realities After Working On Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness

Doctor Strange’s second solo movie is director Sam Raimi’s first feature since 2013’s Oz: The Great and Powerful.

This week is very special for Sam Raimi.

It was 20 years ago — on May 3 to be exact— a little art-house movie he made called Spider-Man, with Tobey Maguire in the spandex in the first of a trilogy, began its roll-out in cinemas worldwide. It went on to collect US$825 million (S$1.14 bil), then the highest-grossing superhero movie of all time.

Not bad for a guy who wasn’t the studio’s top choice to shepherd the coveted Marvel icon to the big screen (he was the 19th on the list, so the story goes).

Flash forward to the present: Raimi, 62, is commandeering another Marvel monster, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, with Benedict Cumberbatch reprising his role as surgeon-turned-Master of the Mystic Arts, this time embroiled in the pesky business of alternate-reality-traversing. It’ a spoiler-sensitive endeavour that also involves Benedict Wong’s newly-promoted Sorcerer Supreme Wong, Elizabeth Olsen’s enchantress Wanda Maximoff, and newcomer Xochitl Gomez as America Chavez, a teen endowed with the power to move between parallel universes.

Again, like Spider-Man, Raimi wasn’t considered for the job. In fact, he wasn’t even in the running, not even after original director Scott Derrickson — who was behind Doctor Strange’s maiden cross over from panel to pixel — jumped ship  “creative differences”. Then someone suggested Raimi. A couple of phone calls later, Marvel found a new steward to navigate Strange’s mind-bending, stranger-than-strange voyage.

Considering that The Multiverse of Madness is Marvel’s first foray into horror (albeit a PG-13 friendly one), hiring the Evil Dead auteur was heaven-sent. (Take a sip of your Coke each time you spot an Evil Dead reference).

And it was about time, too: Raimi hasn’t directed a movie since 2013’s Oz: The Great and Powerful. Not that he’s been slacking off. His shingle, Ghost House Pictures, has been steadily churning out reliable shriek fests, including Don’t Breathe, Crawl, The Grudge and The Unholy. On the TV side, he did a few episodes of the anthology series 50 States of Fright on the short-lived streamer Quibi.

On the road: Director Sam Raimi with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen at the photo call at Ritz Carlton on April 21, 2022 in Berlin, Germany.

Now back to The Multiverse of Madness, shall we? How was the experience of making the 28th entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe compared to making Spider-Man?

Technology certainly has made his life easier, says Raimi, soft-spoken, easygoing, at a virtual press conference in LA on Monday. “[Video-conferencing tools like Zoom], we could show a storyboard from an artist, the editor could bring up a piece of the cut,” he explains. “We really had great communication and you were able to speak to a hundred people at once.”

Anything else? “The thing that didn’t change is having great actors,” he adds, gesturing at Cumberbatch, Wong, Olsen and Gomez, who are also at the press con. (Also in attendance are Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige and writer Michael Waldron.) “Them knowing that the most important thing they can do is within themselves. That’s how people connect to our superheroes.”

When sat down with Raimi, we only have five minutes with him. On paper, we’re supposed to ask about all-things Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. But we all know he’s only allowed to say two things: Jack and s***, and Jack left town; so, no point fishing for spoilers (we could but why would ruin the movie for you?).

Seriously, unless Doctor Strange conjures a time-freeze spell, how does one pack 30 years of pent-up queries about his career in that short a time? There’s more to Raimi than just horror and comic book adaptations. He doesn’t get enough credit for being a versatile storyteller who’s made a Western (1995’s The Quick and the Dead), a crime noir (1998’s A Simple Plan), a baseball drama (1999’s For Love of the Game), a demon-free paranormal thriller (2000’s The Gift) and a children’s fantasy (2013’s Oz: The Great and Powerful).

That said, does Raimi believe in alternate realities where the Sam Raimi variants across the multiverse communicate to one another through dreams and nightmares? Not at first, he tells us, but after working on In the Multiverse of Madness, he’s starting to. For more from Raimi, watch the video below:

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (PG13) is now in cinemas.

Photos: TPG News/Click Photos

Video: Edited by Kevin Chen

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Hollywood Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness Sam Raimi Benedict Cumberbatch Elizabeth Olsen

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