Matt Smith (2009)

So here’s the ‘extended’ version of the ‘Doctor Who Confidential’ interview with Matt Smith, from back at the start of the year. He talks about his Dad’s reaction to the news, about reading two of the scripts, and about keeping the news of his casting from his friends and family.

Q: How does it feel being cast as the 11th Doctor?

A: Flabbergasted. I haven’t slept, to be honest. Truthfully, I probably look a bit bags under the eyes now. Because it’s an iconic part of our culture, my granddad knows about it, my dad knows about it. It’s been going since 1963 and it has the iconic status of Robin Hood or Sherlock Holmes, and I’m taking it on. That’s my responsibility. It’s exciting. Nerve-wracking, exciting. Exciting. Stops me sleeping.

Q: What was your initial reaction to being cast?

A: What I did when I got the role was I paced around the room for about three days, because I didn’t know what to do, so I’d get up, then I’d come back and I’d sit down, then I’d watch a bit of TV and I’d smile and go ‘I’m the Doctor’… It’s weird, it does weird things to you.

Q: How hard was it keeping it a secret?

A: A complete nightmare, not being able to tell anyone. It’s like any secret, it bubbles up inside you and the longer you try to keep it the more mad you go, and I’ll be in my flat and ‘Doctor Who’ will be on and my flatmate’s there and I’d love to share that I’m the new Doctor, but I can’t and it’s, um… but there’s also a sense of mischief, because I know something that the rest of Britain doesn’t know.

Q: Have you told anyone?

A: I had to tell someone because I was going mad, so I told my Dad. But it’s a giant secret, it’s hugely significant.

Q: How did your dad take the news?

A: He was flabbergasted. And he was very proud, because he loves the show, and then he started talking about Tom Baker, because that’s his reference for it, and that’s the thing – my whole family has references for it, and when my Granddad finds out, I don’t know what he’s going to do with it. He was just immensely proud, yeah, and what do you do with information like that? ‘I’m going to be playing the Doctor’, even I say it now and it freaks me out. He was excited, proud, elated.

Q: What was the audition like?

A: I just did my best. I tried to give my version and be brave with it, make brave choices. It was very surreal, though, because again I couldn’t tell anyone about it. It was bizarre, a bizarre process, I’ve never had an audition like it, really.

Q: What did you have to do?

A: I had quite a lot of scenes to do, and I got the scenes the night before, so I had four or five scenes to do and there were too many lines, you know, to learn them all the night before, so I just had to know my way around the scenes as best I could. I wish I could tell you what’s in the scenes, but it’s fun, there’s a lot of stuff going on.

Q: Have you read any of the scripts?

A: I’ve read two scripts, I’ve read episode one and episode four, am I allowed to say that? And they’re brilliant! And he’s a brilliant writer, Stephen, funny writer. And I can’t say a lot about them, but you’re in for a treat.

Q: What’s your Doctor going to be like?

A: I’ve got this wonderful sort of journey in front of me, where I’ve got these six months to build this… this Time Lord, you know? And that’s such an exciting prospect, because I love that part of being an actor, I love the discovery and the being a detective bit. That excites me hugely, yeah, but I don’t know, I’ve got to build him up.

Q: Have you been warned about the attention the role brings?

A: I have been warned about what to expect, and I think that David’s going to be quite a good source of attention for that because he’s dealt with it with great grace and enthusiasm, and that’s what it’s about, and also you work so hard as the Doctor on ‘Doctor Who’ anyway, you don’t get much spare time. But yeah, I’ve talked to a couple of people about, but I’m just going to concentrate on the words on the page and let the rest unfold.

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