chat room

Matt Smith on His Role as the New Doctor Who

On Monday, we requested that Vulture commenters submit the geekiest of Doctor Who questions for us to ask the show’s new star, Matt Smith. Boy, did you comply. Not only were we impressed, stumped, and sometimes a little confused, but, occasionally, so was he. So enjoy our (and your) chat with Britain’s latest “madman with a box.” Then watch the season-five premiere on BBC America this Saturday at 9 p.m. with a bottomless supply of fish fingers and custard on hand. Don’t get that reference from tonight’s show? Ha! How does it feel when you’re the one who’s stumped?

NINJEW wonders, how much Doctor Who trivia did you know before you landed the role and how much did you have to study afterward?
I didn’t know any of it before, really. Well, I mean, I knew it, because you’re born knowing it in England. You know words like “Tardis” and “Dalek,” and the Doctor. But I never really watched it or hung out with it at all, and then I watched loads of it afterward. I watched all the new series and then went back and watched Tom Baker, Patrick Troughton, and all of the older Doctors, as well. Which I loved. My favorite is Patrick Troughton. You know, it’s in black and white and stuff, but it’s amazing. That’s how cool this show is.

BALZAC22 asks which of the Doctor’s famous foes from previous series would you like to face.
That’s a good one. I mean, you know, I loved facing the Daleks, that’s cool. The Weeping Angels, they’re great. I forgot his name, but there’s this weird sort of rat creature that hasn’t come back for a while that’s kind of cool. There’s a giant fish dude as well, and he’s pretty cool. Sadly, I don’t know their names. That’s awful! But I think my favorite monsters are the Weeping Angels from the [series three] episode “Blink”. My favorite to work with have been the Weeping Angels and the Vampires of Venice [from an upcoming episode]. Those are cool.

Do you miss the Doctor’s robotic dog companion, K-9?
No, ‘cause I’ve got Amy Pond [Karen Gillen]. I don’t need a dog as well.

Will there be a love story between the Doctor and Amy?
Maybe. I couldn’t possibly say … I’d have to kill you and I don’t want to kill you. I like you.

She does watch him undress. Do you think he’ll be a more libidinous, sexual doctor?
I know what you mean, but probably not. No, I don’t think he’s a sexual Doctor.

But he’s always stealing women from their fiancés or boyfriends and whisking them away through time and space.
I know, he’s a home-wrecker, isn’t he?

Did you meet with any of your predecessors?
I met with David Tennant, obviously. I saw him walking down the street randomly in Wales recently, with his hat on. It was funny. He can’t go anywhere around without being recognized.

Do people recognize you more now?
Not like they do him, but I imagine they will. It’s a weird transition. It’s been weird in New York. People have been recognizing me! That’s been really strange. It’s like, whoa, I didn’t know that would happen.

EVEBOO asks, what three words would you like people to use to describe your Doctor?
Oh, that’s a good question. Bonkers. Brave. Brilliant. The three Bs.

VIEWDRIX commented that you are the most Sherlock Holmesian of the Doctors so far. Was that your contribution or did it come from executive producer and writer Steven Moffat?
Well, I’ve always thought of him as a bit Holmesian. I mean, I sort of think he’s a detective, because he walks into a room and he notices everything. The thing about the Doctor is, however stupid he seems, he’d be able to walk through to the toilet, go and have a wee, come out, and tell you exactly how many chairs and tables are here.

SCRIVENERERRANT asks if you picked out his outfit.
I was really involved in that. We had three or four fittings and three or four different outfits. At first I had a big, long leather jacket, like Neo from The Matrix. I was wearing stripes and stuff. But, I was very keen that there was an element of the professor type coming through with the bow tie and the tweed and stuff. That feels professorial to me.

You’ve said before that you want to incorporate a hat into your costume. BADGERRS asks if you will get one, and what kind will it be?
It will come in the second season at some point, or maybe I’ll wear a hat in this season, you never know. It will come. I have no idea what type. I’d like to think the costume will constantly evolve. I think he will just pick things up. I think he’s that sort of ad hoc Doctor who will be walking down the street, see a nice hat, and he’ll put it on his head and run off.

That’s almost how he puts together his current costume in the premiere.
Yeah, just grabbing the clothes. It was like, well isn’t that clever? You know, we’ve never really seen a Doctor choose his clothes like that, in a quick way where he just took stuff. Usually they go and find a wardrobe or something. So I’m looking forward to that sort of evolvement.

Does your brain ever wrinkle? Recently on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross you were on with physicist Brian Cox, and he was talking about how we travel through time and space naturally, and one had to look at you and wonder, does it ever get so confusing that you decide to turn your brain off and just go with the flow?
No, I mean, I always try and think about it. But it does get confusing. I can’t think about it the way Brian Cox does. But I always try to make logic of the scripts. I think it’s important that the Doctor knows … actually, it sort of is and it sort of isn’t, because often what my Doctor does is pretend to know when he knows nothing. But he just pretends until he has a good idea.

Who would be one of your dream writers to pen a Doctor Who script?
Oh God, that’s a good question. Oh wow. It doesn’t have to be a sci-fi writer. Richard Curtis [Love Actually] has written a brilliant episode — episode ten. It’s really brilliant. Tim Burton? He could direct one. He could, couldn’t he? Imagine that.

Will the story you wrote yourself, about the Doctor and Einstein in Egypt among the pyramids, ever be produced? Fans agree that it sounds brilliant.
Really? Gosh. I mean, I’ve got it on that computer [points to his laptop case]. I don’t know, really. I’ll tell you what, they’ll produce it and it’s gonna be really rubbish and every one will be really disappointed. It has a man who is addicted to grapes! Maybe, one day, who knows, right?

ROCKINROBIN noticed that the Magpie Electricals logo shows up a lot again in the premiere. Does that mean it might be relevant again, plot-wise?
You’ll have to wait and see. But we have got some Magpie stuff in the new series if you look closely.

JEDR asks, when it’s time for your Doctor to go — when it’s time for another regeneration — would you want to go out subtly and romantically, or with a bang?
I think this Doctor will go out as he came in: laughing.

And lastly, EVEBOO also asked if you could shout out to his or her home country of El Salvador.
El Salvador? Really? Wow. Hello, El Salvador, spread the Doctor Who news and keep watching, is what I say to them.

Matt Smith on His Role as the New Doctor Who