Variety has word that Michael Stuhlbarg is in talks for the film role of Nicodemus West in the upcoming film Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
West is described in the article as "a rival scientist of Strange." Production on the film is scheduled to begin this December in London.
Stuhlbarg, 47, is best known as crime boss Arnold Rothstein on the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. His film roles include Steve Jobs, Lincoln, Men in Black 3, Hugo, and A Serious Man, while he also appeared on episodes of the TV series Ugly Betty, Law & Order, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
Created in 2006 by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin, Nicodemus West first appeared in Doctor Strange: The Oath #1 as a doctor who operated on Doctor Strange's hands after his car accident. While West was able to save Strange's hands, he was unable to repair the nerve damage, making it impossible for Strange to ever be a surgeon again. West was wracked with guilt because he felt that his own incompetence as a doctor had not only destroyed Strange's hands, but that he was also indirectly guilty for the deaths of all those who Strange couldn't save. To make amends, he desperately wanted to repair the severed nerves in Strange's hands, and therefore pursued Strange across the globe, all the way to Tibet and the Sanctorum of The Ancient One.
Sensing that West was lost in life, the Ancient One decided to teach him about the mystic arts in an effort to guide him as he had for Strange. West was too anxious, however, to cure the ails of the world with his new-found abilities, and so he abandoned his studies too early. His first attempt to heal with magic proved successful, but his inexperience soon backfired, causing him to accidentally kill a man while trying to heal him.
When Strange's trusted assistant Wong became afflicted with an inoperable brain tumor, Doctor Strange sought out a mystical means of curing it. In the process, Strange acquired an elixir that could potentially cure every known disease. Timely Pharmaceuticals' Board of Directors saw this as a dire threat to their business and ordered West to find a way to take the elixir from Strange. West hired the professional thief, Brigand, to steal it. Brigand was successful, but nearly killed Strange in the process, and also murdered a doctor that Strange had sent a sample of the elixir to for testing.
West died falling off a building during a physical duel with Strange, and when he hit the ground, the elixir washed down a drain, save for one drop. Before his death, West managed to cast an astral form of himself and he taunted Strange with the choice he would have to make of using the drop to save Wong, or find a way to replicate it and potentially save the world. He then briefly mused on what fate awaited himself in death, at which point West's astral form faded. Strange wound up using the elixir to save Wong, while Night Nurse managed to find enough evidence in West's office to incriminate just about all the higher-ups of Timely Pharmaceuticals.
Doctor Strange is scheduled to arrive in theaters on November 4, 2016.