Here are a few John Simm interviews stuck together. One’s from The Independent, another’s from the BBC website during the build-up to ‘The End of Time’, and there’s also a bit from a BBC Breakfast interview. He talks about getting the role, dealing with fans and handling the pressures of fame, and apologises for not replying to fan mail.
It’s great to be back. Really, really great. I’m having a great time. It’s a great honour to be asked back to be in David’s last ever episode, and Russell’s last ever episode, and Julie Gardner’s last ever episode. The first time was a lot of fun, and also the character’s changed a lot. He’s far, far more insane than he was last time, and much darker. It’s fabulous being back. It’s always nice having another go at a character.
(Being asked) was very late at night, and very covert. Which was exactly what happened when I was asked to play the Master first time round. So I already knew that something special was likely to come out of these late-night meetings with Russell. He said they wanted to bring him back, and explained what was going to happen. I agreed straightaway, it was lovely to play him again.
The Doctor and the Master are two sides of the same coin, and I’m the flipside, I’m tails, and I’m the baddie Doctor. I’m happy being the baddie Doctor, I wouldn’t like to be the Doctor. The white hair was kind of my idea, although I started to regret it almost as soon as I’d had it done. My original idea was that something had gone wrong in the resurrection process and it damages him. So I thought the shock of what happens might have turned his hair white.
The best moments for me are when we’re filming a big sequence. For instance, I was shooting bolts out of my hands at the Doctor. When the camera’s behind me and I can see the explosions going off behind him as he’s walking towards me, it’s like being in a ‘Doctor Who’ video game. So that’s pretty cool.
It’s extraordinary (the battle to keep ‘Doctor Who’ secrets from leaking onto the internet), I really don’t know how they do it. I’ve noticed that a lot of the photos I’m being asked to sign are from the new show. I’ve got no idea how people have got hold of them. I hadn’t even seen them myself – they’re not from the trailer, nor are they from the internet.
When I took my son to school when the first episodes were on, there was a semi-circle around me for half an hour, but they’ve got short memories so they forgot after a while. (My son) is quite used to it now. In fact his mum (Kate Magowan) was in an episode of ‘Primeval’ recently, so God knows what he thinks of us. But he’s a quiet boy, you know. He’s like I was; he doesn’t like attention.
I’m not very good with compliments, either. I always go bright red. I’m alright when I have a character to hide behind. It’s in real life that I can’t bear it. But to some extent I’m used to it, of course. I’m not a people person. I’m not sociable. I have been, and I can be, but not as a general rule. I get embarrassed for other people, too. I can’t watch shows like ‘The X Factor’, for instance. I just squirm for the people involved, for the way they’re being used. It’s the cruellest, most ridiculous show on television. It’s ruined music, ruined everything.
I had a great childhood. I played outside and all that. Looking back, it was quite grim, I suppose, but I certainly didn’t have a bad time. And all the other kids were in the same boat. I used to get up and sing Elvis songs, but later on I became much more self-conscious, all these people staring at me… Maybe that’s what made me so shy, because I was myself on stage and I find that really hard. I used to stare at the floor a lot and my dad was constantly telling me to smile. I was in a school play and I got bitten by the acting bug, if that’s not too much of a cliche. When I started acting, I just enjoyed it. I found it easy and I got a good reaction. I remember thinking, ‘I can obviously do this’. I’ve always had confidence in my abilities that way. And, of course, it gave me this mask to hide behind.
When it comes to meeting strangers and having to chat to them, that doesn’t come easily. David Tennant is brilliant at it, but I’m not. The other day this workman started shouting my name in the street. And no matter how often you heart it, if someone shouts your name in the street, it’s weird. These men were repairing the road and he shouted out ‘John Simm!’. At first, I thought perhaps he thought he knew me, and I went ‘Er, hi’. He beckoned me over and put out his hand to shake. I had my little girl with me. I wasn’t about to pick her up and walk across this building site to shake this guy’s hand. So I just sort-of waved at him. And he went ‘Oh, you’re too good to shake my hand, are you?’. I said ‘I don’t know you, mate’, but he looked disgusted and walked away. I thought, ‘You’ve really got the wrong end of the stick there’. I don’t mean to be rude. In fact, I try to be as polite as possible. but sometimes…
If I haven’t sent fan mail back, please forgive me, I’m not good with it. I find it a bit odd. I don’t think the fans are odd, obviously, I think it’s great that they like what we do, but I find the piles and piles of fan mail, and the replying, a bit narcissistic, so I try to avoid it. I’m not a fan of red carpets, either. I’ve tried so hard to get used to it, and I do try and smile and grin and bear it, but it sends me into a frenzy, it just drives me mad.