It’s already possible to be in two places at once in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as Benedict Cumberbatch proved during several out-of-body experiences in last year’s Doctor Strange. So the New York Post story that the Sherlock star has been replaced by a body double for the shooting of scenes as the sorcerer supreme in the forthcoming MCU instalment Avengers: Infinity War Part One should come as no shock. Moreover, with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story having shown you don’t even need to be alive to star in a new movie, we should hardly be surprised that an actor no longer has to be on set to get involved in a shoot.
Disney has denied that Cumberbatch’s performance will be superimposed over that of Broadway thesp Aaron Lazar, just as the late Peter Cushing’s features blanketed those of Holby City actor Guy Henry for Grand Moff Tarkin’s return in Gareth Edwards’ Rogue One. But the Post’s story reveals the brave new and rather scary world of ghosted performances that we now live in.
Cushing’s posthumous appearance in Rogue One was inspired by a determination to bring back as many fan favourites as possible from the original Star Wars – and perhaps, if we’re being cynical, the knowledge that morbid curiosity would help boost the box office receipts. It is hard to imagine that studios, particularly those struggling with the scheduling conflicts that always come into play when working with busy A-list talent such as Cumberbatch, won’t consider taking a similar route with still-living talent in the future.