Matt Smith Talks DOCTOR WHO Series 7 Part Two, the Show’s 50th Anniversary, the Return of Neil Gaiman, and More

     November 4, 2012


At last weekend’s London Comic-Con, I was able to participate in a very small roundtable interview with Matt Smith for Doctor Who.  While many were nervous when Smith took over the role from David Tennant, I think he’s done an incredible job and I’m glad he’s committed to being the Doctor for at least a few more years.  During the interview Smith revealed:

  • When he first got the job, a little boy gave him a very small Dalek that can fit in his jacket pocket and he always has it with him when he wears that coat.
  • He’s open to a Sherlock crossover/cameo, but he’s pretty sure Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss are against it.
  • The upcoming Christmas episode features Richard E. Grant as the villain and we’ll meet a very important new character.
  • They filmed the first episode of season 7 part 2 and they’ve got five more weeks of filming.
  • Neil Gaiman is writing an upcoming episode and Smith says, “he’s going to do something brilliantly reinventive.”
  • With next year being the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who, Smith says, “I think we’re going to make it a big year for Doctor Who on the BBC.”

Hit the jump to listen to or read the full interview.

Note: Spoilers are discussed in this interview.  You’ve been warned.

As usual, I’m offering you two ways to get this interview: you can either click here for the audio, or the full transcript is below.

matt-smith-doctor-who-image-01Question: We apologize for not coming dressed like Daleks, unlike most the people downstairs.

MATT SMITH: Are there a lot of Daleks downstairs?

There’s lots of different things actually.

SMITH: Yeah they’re fun events, these.

You’ve been to San Diego Comic-Con before.

SMITH: Yeah, I’ve been to two.

Is there something that you collect when you go to the cons and you look around? Is there something that really interests you?

SMITH: Well, I mean if I’m intrigued in shows then yeah, but then to be honest with you I’m never like on the floor in the cons really, do you know what I mean? I’m doing the press and I’m working.  So it’s not like I get to go out and go and look round, really.

You’re missing out.

SMITH: Right, you know when I was- this is not like, I think it’s in this jacket, this isn’t even- this is a genuine thing.  When I first started this job, a little boy gave me a Dalek and I’ve kept it (pulls it out of his jacket) this is three years old.  His thing’s a bit droopy, but I keep it in this jacket.

Tell us about the end of the last series, it was very, very emotional, was it emotional for you when Amy and Rory left?

SMITH: Yeah, of course.  I mean, it was—and rightly so—very emotional.  I think it was a huge, brilliant climax to what I think are two of the best companions in recent history, really.  It was sad to see them go, but the show is the star and the show goes on and it will go on without every single one of us.  Without me, without Steven [Moffat], without any of us, it will still be going.  So you crack on with it, really.

When did you first learn that that was going to be happening? How early are you told story lines?

SMITH: Not early enough.  Nowhere near early enough.  Like, two days before sometimes.  But I knew they were going.  It’s that thing where I know loads of stuff where, in four or five months time, you people will be asking me questions about, but I know that now; I just pretend that I don’t.  It was the same with the Ponds.

matt-smith-doctor-who-image-2So what can you pretend that you don’t know about the Christmas episode?

SMITH: We’ve got the wonderful Richard E. Grant who’s brilliant as a sort of villainous role.  We meet the new companion.

But, we’ve met her already.

SMITH: But, we meet her again.

Can you say anything about that?

SMITH: Umm, yeah, we meet the new companion.

But is she still a Dalek?

SMITH: We meet the new companion.  And we’ve got Vastra, Jenny and Strax are making a return appearance which is terribly exciting.  And it does the sort of wonderful Doctor Who-ey Christmas things, you know, snow, aliens, good will, good cheer, someone trying to take over the world.  Hopefully it makes for good Christmas day telly.

Where are you in part two of season seven? Are you still filming that?

SMITH: Yeah, we are.  We’ve got another five weeks left of shooting.  We’ve just finished shooting episode one, the opener of next season which I think will be a real belter, actually.  Steven’s delivered a great script; we had a great director called Colm McCarthy.  Jenna really was on form in it and stuff.  I think Steven’s written a really good monster so I think that could be something to really look forward to next year.

If I’m not mistaken, I believe Neil Gaiman-

SMITH: Is back, yeah.

doctor-who-castExactly, I wanted to know when did you first hear Neil Gaiman was writing another one, and what can you tease people about it?

SMITH: Well I heard a long time ago that Neil was coming back to write one.  Again, and I’m not trying to be overly cryptic with you, it’s just that if I say the wrong thing—they’re all writing things down, I get ripped out the back.  But Neil is coming back and I think he’s going to do something brilliantly reinventive, shall we say.

He did really good episode last time.

SMITH: It was a fantastic episode, yeah.  What Neil does is he comes in with a brilliant initial idea, which only a man of his mind—if you take anything like American Gods, you go how? Where? I can’t kind of correlate it.  He has this wonderful ability to think outside of the box, and fantasy and science fiction, the way he thinks and writes really lends itself to that form, I think.

What was the main theme of the last season, do you think? Was it all leading to the inevitable demise or disappearance of Rory and Amy?

SMITH: Yeah, I think it was all about the fall of the Ponds and their demise and this season is, you know, the next season will be all about the new companion and sort of meeting her and introducing her into the world of Doctor Who.  Which is what the show does and is one of the really exciting things about this show is that transition and change and excitement and anticipation that that creates.  Yeah, it’s very interesting. I was talking to Steven Moffat about it the other day and we were saying when I started there was sort of uproar at my age and everything, and then when Daniel Craig started there was uproar, how can Daniel Craig be James Bond? And now look at him, we’re on the cusp of possibly the greatest James Bond movie ever.

doctor-who-series-7-matt-smith-jenna-louise-colemanOn that note, it is Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary next year, isn’t it?

SMITH: It is, yeah.

Do you think it can be as big as the Bond extravaganza?

SMITH: Yeah, I think absolutely.  That’s the plan completely.  I think for it to get to 50 is remarkable and I’m very proud to be in a show with that history and heritage and the legacy.  To be the sort of incumbent Doctor when it’s his birthday is fantastic.  But, we’re going to make it the biggest year of the show ever, on a global scale hopefully.

Aren’t they bringing in some—as a big fiftieth special with a whole bunch of Doctors? Am I wrong about this?

SMITH: Are they? I don’t know, you tell me.

There’s a film made about he’s thinking about the genesis of Doctor Who written by Mark Gatiss.

SMITH: Ah, the genesis of The Doctor, but that’s about William Hartnell isn’t it? I mean, there’s that and we’ll obviously make a 50th anniversary episode special, and then they’ll be all sorts of live events I would’ve thought that surround that. I think we’re going to make it a big year for Doctor Who on the BBC.  I think that’s the plan.

When I last spoke to you, you said you really enjoyed playing The Doctor, do you still get the same relish from the role?

SMITH: Yeah, I mean, I was filming yesterday and I can’t even begin to explain—I know, again, I’m sorry to sort of tease you and not say anything, but it was this wonderful set with this array of particular characters and it was like a sort of fairy land of alien world.  It was remarkable, and me and Jenna were just going, “Good day at work, right?”

matt-smith-doctor-who-series-7What kind of a Doctor is he with Clara on board?

SMITH: Well, I mean, it’s a funny thing really, because that’s sort of an ongoing process. It’s something that you learn as you go quite a lot of the time, because obviously I don’t know Jenna when she gets the job, just like any job but this particularly where the relationships and their relationship throughout the show is so important to the story, it’s something that is constantly evolving as you get to know each other a bit better.  But of course we meet him having lost Amy and Rory which were very—that was a very important part of his life.  So we meet a slightly different version of him. I think being with anyone, being with a different actress, being with a different character ultimately it’s going to change you.  But, it’s hard for me to articulate what that is because I don’t know, it’s not something that I’m conscious of really.

And you’ve ridden a motorbike.


It was the triceratops last time, the horse, have you had any other first this series?

SMITH: Well, I mean, they’re three firsts.

Which is harder to ride?

SMITH: The triceratops was a nightmare, total.  I had to wear special pants because you know they make the curve, that’s metal.  So we’re all sat there going, “So, you know where you sat with that curve,” and there’s this great big metal thing just you know, digging into your goonies.

I’m curious how much things change on your show; some TV shows go through dramatic pages.  You get yellow pages, you get pink pages through filming, but with you guys I’m assuming it’s a smaller operation.

SMITH: Ha! Yea, No I mean, pink, green, purple; you name it we get it.

How dramatic have you done shift in scripts as you’re filming?

SMITH: Days, on the day well get completely different sides.  The night before you’ll get a completely different script because, you know, you’re making fourteen episodes of television in the space of nine months with one man having to write five or six of them and then oversee.  I mean, his workload is extraordinary.  And he’s so brilliant.  It’s remarkable that he does what he does, Steven, and he keeps coming up with the ideas and he’s just the most—I admire him, I truly do.  It’s a very difficult show to make and it mustn’t be sort of underestimated.  Every two weeks is a new episode.  But, think of all those sets you have to build, think of all the people that you have to cast, the costumes that you have to get, I mean the planning and everything.

doctor-who-matt-smith-karen-gillan-01Has there been any sort of dramatic change in an episode that really surprised you as you were filming? Like it was supposed to go this way and then it took a dramatic turn?

SMITH: Yeah, at which point I go, “You’ve got to give me this earlier guys.  Come on guys, give me a chance.” Then they go, “Sorry!”  And you get on with it, and you remember you’re making Doctor Who and it’s all sort of okay, because whatever you make is generally pretty fun.  I can’t really say, but I had to go into something the other day, which was a lot of fun, be put in something.  I can’t really say any more than that, but it was just great fun, and you’ll know what I mean when you see what it is.  Let’s just say that it changes my… appearance somewhat. 

You’re obviously really good with the fans. Does it ever get too much, because they are so passionate about the show?

SMITH: No, it doesn’t get too much because they are the show and without them there is no show.  That’s why it’s been going fifty years.  I think the moment you’re not good with the fans you’re in the wrong job, you know? We owe so much to them, they keep us moving.  And it’s growing, like it’s been so exciting in the States.  Each year I go back it really has picked up a level, and you go, “wow, they’re really taking this on over there now.”

I can speak as someone who lives in LA, it is massive.

SMITH: Yeah, it’s growing isn’t it?

It’s really growing.  I want to know if there’s any chance of an Easter-egg in Sherlock or vice-versa where Sherlock’s going on, because they’re filming in January, February…

benedict-cumberbatch-martin-freeman-sherlockSMITH: They are, yeah.

..and you’re like standing in the background of the scene or reverse you’re filming and they’re standing in the background of a scene.

SMITH: I think Mark and Steven kind of hate the idea of Doctor Who and Sherlock ever meeting.

It’s be a nice Easter-egg for the fans.

SMITH: No, I know, I know, and listen I’m not averse to it.  I’m kind of open.  I’m like yeah, because I just think they would find each other so remarkable.

I don’t even mean like they’re having a conversation, I mean you’re just walking by in a scene.

SMITH: But how can Doctor Who walk by in Sherlock Holmes?

I don’t know.

SMITH: Because he’s fictional.  Doctor Who could, but it’s just nah, it’s you know—and The Doctor with Watson, he’d be like, “Cheer up mate.  It’s not that bad, I know you’re really clever, but there’s an alien over there, let’s go and talk.  He’s got wiggly bits on.”

Do have any idea about how long you would like to do this job for?

SMITH: Fifty years.

The next fifty?

SMITH: Yeah, fifty-million years.  No, I take it year by year, you know? See what comes.  I love working for Steven Moffat.  I love making the show, it’s unlike any job I’ll ever have, and I’m proud going into the 50th year, so.

And you’re not worried about typecasting?

doctor-who-matt-smithSMITH: No.  No.  Because, there are bigger things to worry about.  Who cares? If people want to typecast me they can, I can sit and have me egg sandwich and not really give a damn about it.  It’s up to others.

If you’re standing in line at Starbucks or some store, little kids are there, they see you, they watch the show; what’s the thing that kids or fans always want to ask you?

SMITH: Oh God, so many things.  I mean, some kids sort of freeze.  (Does impression) Like that.  Which is always amazing because you’re like, “Hey! What’s going on?” and then they look at their mom as if, “What is going on?” That’s what’s been wonderful about being in the show is that it’s watched by children.  I mean, the director on the show we’re doing at the moment, Farren Blackburn, wonderful director he did the Christmas special last year.  He brought his kids up; and they came and they watched and I showed them the Sonic and they were like, “Whoa!” Ann then they left and these three children just sort of came and involuntarily hugged my legs. I was like, “This is the best hug I’ve ever had,” because it’s so genuine.  So it was very nice, you know? They want to know about the Sonic, or the Tardis, or what’s the scariest alien, or do you get frightened when you’re with the aliens? And, you know, they’re all really cool kid questions.  It’s not like “Who’s your girlfriend?” Boring adult questions, “Who are you dating?” Who cares?