“How are we all? I’m really well. I brought my parents to see it over here, actually to give them a little taste of the New York audience. They’re not going to know what’s hit them.” And that was how Matt Smith, aka The Doctor, greeted a room full of people like me, Whovians.
Yes, I am a Whovian, a Doctor Who fan. And so, I am so excited to tell you I had a chance to interview Matt Smith, who plays the Doctor (the 11th one!), and Karen Gillan, who plays Amy Pond. It’s a big deal to me, because I’m such a huge fan and also because the new series returns to BBC America on September 1st. It’s a monumental season because we only have five episodes with Amy Pond and her husband, Rory. And then, soon after the Fall of the Ponds, we Whovians will be introduced to the new companion (a companion is the human that time travels with the Doctor).
Oh yes, time travel. This wickedly complex journey of being able to pinpoint any place in Time and Space and going to it via the TARDIS. The TARDIS (Time And Relative Dimension In Space)? Well, that’s the police box that the Doctor and his companions travel in, and it’s bigger on the inside. I know I’m throwing a lot of information that is vague at you; but really, if you watch just one episode, and you should tonight, with the season premiere, all of it will make sense.
So let’s get back to where I started, and that’s with the interview of a lifetime. There’s two parts: The first is the written bit, here below. And then there’s the video version, where you can see the three of us, plus Caroline Skinner, a Doctor Who producer, talking about the world of the Time Lord.
What’s your favorite episode that you’ve shot?
KAREN: “What was really fun was ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ (Ruby Fun Fact: it was written by Neil Gaiman!), where the TARDIS became a female and me and Arthur (Darvill), who plays Rory, got to run around the TARDIS and we got to see bits of the TARDIS that we’ve never seen before – which was actually one corridor that we made look like many, but it was just the same one – and I thought that was really cool. I really enjoyed ‘The Girl Who Waited’ because I got to play two characters, sort of. That was really fun. They were going to cast an older actress to play the older version of Amy and I was like, ‘Please let me play it, I’ll wear all the prosthetics in the world.’ And they were like, ‘Okay, we’ll give you a test.’ And it looked really good. And then I suddenly realized what I’d offered to do which is play an old version of the character, which is really difficult because it’s like, where do you picture that? So that was a real challenge for me and I just loved it so much.”
On the subject of Time Travel, if you could travel anywhere in time, where would you go?
KAREN: “I would probably go as far into the future as possible before the sun explodes and just see what the world is like and how it’s progressed. And just see what we look like physically because I have this theory that because we have all these computers and stuff that we won’t do anything for ourselves and we’ll develop these massive brains and have really frail bodies because we don’t actually do anything for ourselves, robots do it.”
MATT: I’d pick up Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe. I’d say, ‘Let’s do the last 200 years in New York!’ [The Doctor’s] much cooler than me. He’s much more than I’ll ever be, you know. I am lucky enough to get to sort of be close to that, and be close to the idea of him and have the ideas that he has and inform them. You get to think and use your imagination in a way that is you know beyond what we would do every day, because he thinks in a completely different way to us as human beings. I mean, it’s why he doesn’t understand the kind of domesticity of life, the normalness, the marriages, staying down, going to work everyday. Why? Why do it? Why? Travel around!”
On the subject of New York….
KAREN: “My final episode was shot in New York (Ruby Fun Fact: This is also a spoiler. The last episode with the Ponds is episode five, and the Weeping Angels are a big part of it, ick), which is kind of weird. But it was amazing. We were in Central Park and we started shooting, and then all these people turned up. And we didn’t expect it at all. At all. We didn’t have any security or anything like that and then more and more turned up to the point where there were hundreds upon hundreds of people lining Central Park. They were like, “Sign my TARDIS!” (Ruby Fun Fact: Karen does a Hilarious New Yawk accent). It was the most amazing thing. And that was really funny, watching Matt running around Times Square in his bow tie. It was like, am I imagining this?”
MATT: “First and foremost, I want to shoot every episode of Doctor Who in New York. I love this city. I love filming here. Everywhere you point a camera, there’s something brilliant to look at. I think maybe he’d go and play some jazz with Woody Allen a bit perhaps, grab a steak at Balthazar, maybe. Go and stand on top of the statue of liberty somehow. Take the TARDIS to the bottom of the Hudson see what’s down there. Come back up. He’d do it in a brilliant way.”
On the subject of leaving Doctor Who…
KAREN: “It’s such a sad episode. It was honestly the weirdest, most serene feeling. And then yeah, it was our last scene and we were walking into the TARDIS. We did about twenty takes of it, though, which was really weird. It was lovely because then Matt closed the door and we were in complete darkness and we all just hugged in the dark it was like, it’s done. It was just the most emotional feeling, it really was. I think the thing I am going to miss most is working with Matt and Arthur because we’ve become best friends genuinely. We’re not just saying that because we’re supposed to; it’s true! Its just weird not having them to run around with everyday. I’ve learned so much from Matt, as well, just because he’s just the most inventive actor I’ve ever ever seen work. I mean, he doesn’t do it the same way twice, he just constantly creates something new, so you don’t know what’s going to happen and then it provokes a real reaction in you. Then you realize what acting is all about: the transaction instead of standing there and delivering it the way you want to and it’s alive. And also, I’m going to miss running away from monsters because that is the most fun ever. You’re just like running away from these strange looking things, going, ‘This is my job, yes!’”
On the subject of the Doctor, after the Ponds leave…
MATT: “I think he’s always a loose cannon. The interesting thing is I think we sort of pick up where we left him, and that was, he was on his own. As Amy says to him, he’s got to be careful of travelling on his own. I think it makes him less, perhaps less compassionate somehow I don’t know. The fall of the Ponds and the demise of those two great companions—that the Doctor is hugely hugely attached to and have been such a significant, had such a significant effect on him as a character — so that’s bound to be an event that flips his universe massively. Absolutely that’s going to have a big effect on him. I can’t tell you what will happen to him because it would spoil it, but absolutely I think it will affect him and change him and change his nature because it can’t not. I think you know he needs a human companion by his side. I think allowing seeing the universe alone is a different thing to showing the universe and letting someone else experience it. And I think that at it’s heart that’s what the show is, he’s giving people this gift of all of time and space. I mean what a thing to say to someone: do you want to come with me. And she’s like, well what do I see? Everything you could ever imagine. Everything possible ever. As an idea, I think that feels sort of the heart of the show really.”
So that’s Part One. Now watch this video, and watch Matt Smith high five me and tell me I have cool kicks. Seriously.