Doctor Strange and Sherlock star Benedict Cumberbatch has shared details of the unique situation he found himself in as the world first got caught in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year. The 44-year-old actor was reportedly in the midst of filming an ad for a new diving watch on a New Zealand island with a population of just 21 people – and apparently got trapped there.
“There are no shops or any kind of logistical support, so it’s a pretty rare breed of person that lives there that’s really in tune with nature. It’s kind of magical and timeless in that way,” explained Cumberbatch of NZ’s Rakino Island, which – as far as we know – is home to no pengwings.
Cumberbatch had initially embraced a job as the face of Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Polaris Mariner Memovox watch under the impression that the company wanted him to do a quick bit of scuba diving for the cameras, which turned out to be an error.
“The miscommunication on this shoot was that I’d said I love diving, which I presumed would be interpreted as scuba diving, but it was actually free-diving,” he said, going on to explain that years of practicing meditation, and the Wim Hof breathing technique in particular, saved the day. “It’s really about the breathing and meditation, and what that aids in terms of being able to hold your breath.”
There certainly appears to be a little bit of the Stephen Strange origin story already engrained in Cumberbatch.
“I fell in love with the practice and the mystery of [meditation], and also the pragmatism of it, the routine of it, the discipline of it; and eventually I started to become a practitioner and went on retreats myself, sort of immersed in that process,” he said, noting that meditation has benefited his acting technique over the years. “The isolation or the feeling of singular focus, that’s absolute gold for an actor. It’s tantamount – that isolation – but still being responsive to your environment and the players in it.”
You can see Cumberbatch’s ad below if you want. It’s about what you’d expect from a watch ad…
Cumberbatch also admitted he had mixed emotions about starting work on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which is being helmed by Evil Dead director Sam Raimi and is due to start filming soon.
“I’m very excited about [the film] and we’re in pre-production now,” he confirmed. “There’s a little voice going, ‘But what if it all goes wrong again? What if case numbers rise?’”
The actor noted that he’s trying to stay optimistic and positive ahead of his latest Marvel project.
“A lot of it has to do with kindness. I think if you walk through your life with consideration for other people as well as yourself … it’s part of our global community responsibility to other citizens of this planet.”
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is set to be released in March, 2022.