Doctor Strange
Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange in the Marvel movie Film Frame/Marvel

Superhero enthusiasts will be surprised to learn that Benedict Cumberbatch didn't know who Doctor Strange was until a journalist introduced him to the titular character he is currently playing on the big screen. Speaking to the BBC, the Sherlock star admitted he was late to the party but was instantly felt a connection.

"It was a suggestion of a journo in LA who, during a Star Trek junket said: 'You'd make a great Doctor Strange', Cumberbatch explained.

"I went, 'Doctor who?' and he said 'Oh yeah, that too', and I was like no, come on – who's Doctor Strange? He explained it a bit to me and I said, 'Wow, that sounds completely out there.'"

The latest Marvel superhero blockbuster centres on revered American neurosurgeon Stephen Strange who loses his medical skills, after his hands are seriously damaged following a car accident. Desperate to heal himself, he seeks out a powerful mystic called the Ancient One (played by Tilda Swinton) in Nepal. She teaches him how to harness mysterious psychic and magical powers so he can help her protect the world from the mystical threats that the Avengers can't. The movie also stars The Notebook's Rachel McAdams and 12 Years a Slave's Chiwetel Ejiofor.

Cumberbatch said that he was drawn to the role because he found the egotistical and materialistic" comic book character "really intriguing".

"There were so many pulls for me" he explained. "The other one really was the element of being an action hero and being an American lead in a film of this size, which was obviously a huge deal for me career-wise."

Meanwhile the Hamlet star − who is expecting his second child with wife Sophie Hunter − shut down rumours that he preparing to make his directorial debut saying "my life's quite busy as it is."

Doctor Strange is on general release in the UK now and released on November 4 in the U.S.