Matt Smith Interview

The Eleventh Doctor chats with SFX ’s Joseph McCabe at Comic-Con International 2011 in San Diego…

“What’s interesting about the Doctor is he’s always sort of an outsider in many ways. Because one day Amy Pond and Rory will go back and live on their own, and he’ll be left alone again. And some other poor sap will be picked up and whisked into it. I hope that day doesn’t come for a while, because I love working with Karen and Arthur, and Amy Pond is very close to my heart… I guess he’s quite lucky because he has River. She’s sort of family. But the Doctor’s a loner I think, essentially. I think he loves the idea of being part of a family, but can never quite understand how to be.”

What do you think you bring, visually, to the Doctor?

“There was a whole period of fittings, and it took us three or four days really to try and figure out just what it was. I had a very different look, and then one day I brought a tweed blazer, because I wanted it to feel professorial. We had that and the boots – the boots had a sense of adventure. Then there was something missing, so I also tried on a bow tie. Steven, Piers [Wenger] and Beth [Willis] went, ‘Oh no, really?’ I was like, ‘Yeah!’ Then it kind of set it off, and it really worked. I just kind of liked the idea that the Doctor thinks he looks cooler than everyone else does. [Laughs.]”

Doctor Who’s new look has inspired a new trend of geek chic here in the States.

“No way! That was around before Doctor Who . [Laughs.]”

Yeah, but you actually made it popular. And a bunch of stars like Justin Timberlake and Akon have actually quoted Doctor Who as their inspiration.

“They haven’t…”

They have!

“Don’t! My girlfriend will freak out if she knows that about Justin Timberlake – she loves Justin Timberlake… [Laughs.] Okay, what did he say?”

When he was asked where he got his twin blazer/vest look, he said that he’d seen it on a British sci-fi show [called] Doctor Who . He’d seen it on a Virgin airlines flight.

“JT watches Doctor Who ! [Laughs.]”

Akon does too.

“Wow! To be honest, I’m kind of more interested in JT watching it! [Laughs.] That’s really cool. Who’d have knew, man? The Doctor’s bringing sexy back! [Laughs.] That’s a terrible joke. That’s terrible. He’s not. He doesn’t know what sexy back is. Don’t write that down. [Laughs.]

“Well, it’s interesting isn’t it? This man who clearly has no real concept and wears the same thing every day… He just has, like, 50 versions of it. [Laughs.] Although what’s great about the costume is it’s going to continually evolve. Look out for the next ep!”

Since your Doctor has been traveling in the TARDIS, is there a place you’ve not gone to yet that you’d like to visit?

“Dinosaurs! I kind of want dinosaurs. That would be cool. Dinosaurs of some realm.”

“Is it tough, when so much is at stake in each episode, to maintain the suspense and keep the thrills mounting?

“No, because it’s Doctor Who , and that’s where he lives. Literally, that’s just what he does every day. It’s like going to work in an office. And the writing’s so good and the level of enthusiasm that we have from the cast and crew is so inspiring, that, no way, I turn up for work ready to go, you know?”

Do you have a favourite episode thus far?

“Yeah, I love the Angels episodes, ‘The Time Of Angels’. I love ‘The Eleventh Hour’, I love ‘Day of the Moon’, I love ‘The Big Bang’, I love ‘Vincent And The Doctor’… It’s so tricky. I love them for so many different reasons because I have so many memories associated with them.”

“The Eleventh Hour” is a favourite. The little girl playing Karen’s role is fantastic.”
“That’s Karen’s cousin.”

Are we ever going to get to see her again? I mean, Karen’s great obviously, but the little girl, she was so good.

“Watch this space! Watch this space… Yeah, she was brilliant. And she never acted before in her life. We were tooling around and we couldn’t find anyone.”
Do you have a favourite monster you haven’t worked with yet?

“No, because I’m lucky. I think my favourite monster is the Weeping Angel.”

As someone who’s fairly knowledgeable about the show’s history, you’re probably aware of the great tradition of Doctor Who anniversary episodes. With the fiftieth anniversary approaching, would you like to see that tradition continue?

“Yeah, I think we’ve got to do something that is an event. We’ve got to create an event, absolutely. That’s certainly the plan. I don’t know what that is. The powers that be upstairs will decide that. But I’m hoping we can definitely make it something unique.”

Would you be willing to team up with Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant if their Doctors were featured in the episode?

“Yeah, of course. Absolutely.”

The fans would love it.

“Yeah, exactly. And that’s what it’s about. It’s about creating an event for everyone who’s been involved with Who , the fans included, and just going, ‘Hey, look at this thing we’ve all been following for 50 years…’”

Is this your first Comic-Con?

“Yes, this is my first Comic-Con. I love it. I think the spirit of the place is really palpable, and I’ve had a wonderful time. I’ve been made to feel very welcome, and I’ve just enjoyed myself. I think what’s great is you get to meet the people that you admire, like when I met the guys from True Blood . So I think that’s one of the great virtues of this place.”

Does Steven Moffat let you in on anything before you get a script?

“No. You know what he did this year? He told Alex [Kingston] everything – the whole season, what was going to happen. He told me nothing. Because that’s what happens in the story. Can you believe that? Every day on set I’d be like, ‘Just tell me, please!’ And she wouldn’t. [Laughs.] So, no, he keeps it all very secret, which I kind of like.”

Torchwood is now on Starz in the U.S. instead of BBC America – does this mean you could never really do a crossover?

“No, I doubt it really. I guess Jack could come back to Who . But the Doctor’s never going to go to Torchwood .”

What’s the next kind of relationship you would like to see for the Doctor?

“God, I don’t know. He’s such a nomad, and he does his thing. I don’t think… it brings it back to the family question. He doesn’t quite engage in the way that other people do. He’s his own man. And when you think about it, he’s actually quite selfish. Because he picks these people up – often hot women [laughs] – and then cruises around, drops them off, and goes, ‘See you later. Someone else’s turn!’ So who knows?”

Dave Golder
Freelance Writer

Dave is a TV and film journalist who specializes in the science fiction and fantasy genres. He's written books about film posters and post-apocalypses, alongside writing for SFX Magazine for many years.