It’s got to be majorly intimidating coming into an iconic role such as The Doctor. Even aside from the rabid fanbase, you’re also following in the footsteps of many actors before, each of whom have their own devoted fans convinced that their Doctor is the very best Doctor. How do you approach that kind of role? Do you immerse yourself in everything that came before? Do you rely on your beloved childhood memories? Or do you just do your best to be interesting and funny and make the role your own? In a new interview, Eleventh Doctor Matt Smith reveals how he prepared for the series, and which Doctor was his “first.”
Talking to Den of Geek, Smith says that he sampled a little of all of the Doctors…except for poor Colin Baker, whose run he didn’t watch any of. Where’s the love for Baker, huh? Maybe Colin Baker ran over one of Smith’s relatives with a car? Beats me, but I’m sure it will eventually be settled in a bare-knuckled cage match. At any rate, here’s Smith:
As soon as I got the job, I went through tonnes and tonnes — I got them to send me pretty much every episode that I could get my hands on. So I went through Troughton, Pertwee, Baker, a bit of Hartnell… So I’ve dipped in. I hate to say, I’ve never watched really any Colin Baker episodes.
My first Doctor, and I told him this, was David [Tennant]. I did it the wrong way round! I watched all of David’s stuff and all of Chris’s stuff, and then I went backwards… I was always aware of Doctor Who, but I didn’t grow up with it.
I imagine Tennant was a lot of people’s first Doctor, as the new series began grabbing more and more attention internationally. I do wonder if not being super well-versed in the series made it harder or easier for Smith to deal with all the things that come with being a Doctor: the zealous fans, the haters who are convinced you’re the worst thing to happen to the series ever, etc.
To add (imagined) insult to (nonexistent) injury, Smith may not have watched any of Colin Baker’s episodes, but he did watch the lone televised adventure of the Eighth Doctor, played by Paul McGann in a thoroughly mediocre TV movie back in 1996. So what’d he think of the cut of McGann’s jib?
I have seen it, and it’s good, but I kind of think the Doctor isn’t a guy who goes and drinks cocktails at parties. If he did, then he’d go and he’d drop all the cocktails and he’d find that in the olive there was something that was about to explode and kill everyone! Paul is a great Doctor, actually; but I don’t think it was the most Doctor-y of stories.
There you have it, folks. The Eighth Doctor TV movie: Not Doctor-y Enough for Matt Smith. And I can’t say I disagree with him. While McGann was okay in the role, the movie was hardly Doctor Who’s finest hour. And let’s face it, even if it had been amazing and more Doctor-y, it aired on the Fox network. It was doomed from the start.
Finally, since Smith is sticking with the role of the Doctor at least for a while longer, the interviewer asks if there are any far-fetched dream crossovers he’d like to do between Who and other shows. The short version: crystal meth and zombies.
I want the Doctor to meet Heisenberg from Breaking Bad. It’s amazing, he’d just go ‘You’re a badass, man. I’m gonna make you good, I’m going to bring you back to my side; it’s going to be alright dude, don’t worry.’ I just think Bryan Cranston’s incredible. I mean, there’s loads of shows… Imagine if the Doctor turned up with all the zombies in The Walking Dead! He’d be like ‘Guys! Don’t worry about it, we’ll figure this out, okay… Also, can’t show any blood, so can we just chill out on the eating?’ He’d definitely strike up a conversation with one of the zombies, he wouldn’t just shoot them; and that’s the great thing about the Doctor — he’d get them talking.
Well, you know what they say: braaaaaaaaiiiiinssss before brawn.