Here’s a heavily edited version of the Torchwood panel at the Comic Con in San Diego, with John Barrowman, Gareth David-Lloyd, Naoko Mori and Julie Gardner talking about both Doctor Who and Torchwood. They talk about sex, how the show was commissioned and how Barrowman reacted when he found out that Captain Jack might be the Face of Boe.
Edit: You can watch the panel here, including a link to a full transcript. Definitely worth watching the video if you get a chance.
Q: Torchwood is such a fascinating show, and it’s certainly more sexed-up than ‘Doctor Who’.
Julie Gardner: All I can say is Thank God Steven Moffat’s left the panel. I can’t think of what we’d do. We’d be back on his dating stories.
John Barrowman: I don’t know. I mean… I don’t know if you’d call it more sexed-up. I think it’s just… alright… But doesn’t it just reflect kind of real life and what foes on with the human… you know, your human condition and everything. We all have partners, we all have relationships, we all have ups and downs. We all flirt. You know, behind other people’s backs. Everybody does it, and Torchwood just kind of covers that.
Q: We all sleep with aliens.
JB: It’s funny, because a lot of people always say to me about Captain Jack, you know, he’s a sex maniac, he’s always doing things with other people. Jack doesn’t really do anything.
JG: He keeps his coat on.
JB: Yes. Coat sex. Safe sex.
Gareth David-Lloyd: Episode eleven? There was no coat in the naked hide and seek.
JB: No, there wasn’t. Actually, that was very funny when we filmed that because both Gareth and I were very worried about how everything showed, weren’t we Gareth?
GDL: Back fat.
JB: Back fat! That whole sequences it was… ’cause we have a laugh when we do stuff like that. You don’t touch or do anything weird, but I’m actually, my hand’s groping his thigh.
GDL: I accidentally put my hands down your pants, didn’t I?
JB: Yes, you did. Very funny. I enjoyed it.
Q: Why don’t you tell us a little something about your characters?
Naoko Mori: I love Tosh. I mean everyone… you know, I have a lot in common with Tosh, in that I’m a bit of a geek. But geeks rule the world, and I love her because even though she’s not very good at expressing herself, what I love about her is that she’s going through it, you know, she’s learning about herself and coming out of her shell, and that whole journey of her becoming more sort of aware of herself, and understanding herself. That kind of thing I really love. She’s a late bloomer.
JG: She’s dead!
NM: She’s been very academically driven. I loved playing her, getting to know herself and becoming more of a rounded person.
GDL: I like the mysterious elements to Ianto’s character, the fact that you don’t really know a hell of a lot about him. You haven’t seen his flat, or where he lives, or any of his background. And that sort of makes him a bit more mysterious, a bit more interesting, and a bit more fun to play. And he gets to shag the leading man, so that’s good, isn’t it? That gets me a lot of attention.
JB: The thing I love about Jack is that he’s mysterious. When we first met Jack back in the world of Doctor Who, Jack himself was not a very likeable person. But I like the way that Jack became more human… for his love of humanity. He feels it’s important to rescue, to save the day, and if it means the death of one person to save thousands… boom! Gone! And that’s his kind of attitude. There’s a lot of John Barrowman in Captain Jack. (laughs) I just realised what I said.
GDL: There’s a lot of Ianto in there as well.
JB: The thing about Jack, what I’m so bowled over by and it’s partially because of you guys and everybody out there, how iconic he has become and also that he’s a hero and there’s nothing better in the world than playing a hero, and I am every day when I get up to go to work and film, you know, whether I’ve had a bad day before, or whatever, I’m not feeling in a good mood, I absolutely, you know, I love playing that character.
Q: Now that we know that Jack is the Face of Boe, and that he’s had millions of children, isn’t it time that Jack and Ianto got married and started a family?
JG: Season six, season seven…
JB: Jack said before, I’ve been pregnant once, and I’m never gonna do that again.
Q: How does the new format of season three of Torchwood make it different from the previous two seasons?
JG: Well, we wanted to do, I mean I’m sure most of you know we’re doing five episodes and one huge story. So there’s a ticking clock. It’s a really tight time span. It’s one big meaty story that’s told across five episodes. Big event. It’s really about pushing Torchwood into new territory. The team’s never been under this much streess, in this much trouble. John, what’s your sense of it?
JB: My sense is that, I read it on an aeroplane and I don’t like to fly. I was totally engrossed in it, forgot I was on a plane, absolutely incredibly action-packed. I was shocked at things that were going to happen, and the way the story progresses.
JG: Bad things happen. And Russell T. Davies has written that episode, we’re four weeks away from shooting so it’s getting really exciting.
Q: When you got the first script for Torchwood, the very first one, what was your first initial emotional response?
NM: After I calmed down about the fact that I could be working with Russell T. Davies, and I kind of fell off the sofa and started frothing and getting very excited, the biggest thing that struck me and got me excited was that it’s not just sci-fi. It has so many other elemenets. There’s something in it for everyone, even if you don’t like sci-fi. There’s drama, there’s comedy, there’s proper story arcs.
GDL: I’d read an article quite a way before I got offered the audition for Torchwood and I was really excited by the idea that it was set in the Who universe, but there’s lots of swearing and sex, and then I got offered the audition and I was over the moon. I’ve never worked so hard on an audition in my life. And it was only the first couple of episodes, only a couple of lines, but I went over those lines over and over and over again. I was blown away and very excited about the whole thing.
JB: Well I was already Captain Jack. How did I feel? I’ll tell you how I felt when I was told about the series: Aaaargh! I’ve got my own series and I’m gonna be an action here and I might get my own figure and doll and everything will be really cool, because I’m a geek and I love science fiction, and Julie can vouch for that because she was there.
JG: I was there and we were in a public space, we were not in private. And that’s the critical thing about this story. We were in a bar, in a hotel in Central London.
JB: It’s one of the best things in the world. Every script we get, every script we read, it’s going on an adventure and I know I speak for the other cast members but we’re little kids inside, living out dream every day.
Q: John, what was it like studying acting with Sara and Andy Barnicle?
JB: (laughs) I didn’t study with Sara, but I studied with Andy. He was my acting teacher at university. And the thing I liked about him was that he used to challenge me in a way that he’d make me get really pissed off and want to prove him wrong. He kind of put us in the attitude that, you know, we were wasting our time and blah blah blah… Look where I am now! Andy’s a really good teacher.
Q: John, any chance of you playing Captain America?
JB: Captain America is one of my absolute favourite super heroes, along with the typical Superman and all that kind of stuff. I’m from that era and that generation. I would love to play Captain America. In fact, my manager is sitting over there and he’s probably now just sent off an e-mail to the studio or whoever to let them know.
Q: One of my favourite episodes this season was ‘Fragments’. I was wondering how much information you got before the script, and what were your reactions when you found out the new information?
JG: I don’t think we told them.
JB: When I get the scripts, it’s sometimes a few days or even a week before I get back to Julie.
JG: There’s silence.
JB: There’s silence. And that’s not because I don’t want to read them. I like to wait as long as possible so when I get to it, it’s fresh, otherwise I have a preconceived way that I’m playing stuff. So with ‘Fragments’ and any of the other scripts, I sometimes wait until just before the read-through before I actually look at it. And i trust so much in the writers. Sometimes, a director may ask us to do something that we might not think is part of the character, and we’ll discuss that. But script-wise… I love going back into the past.
JG: We’ve got to talk about that moment where you just discovered that you were the Face of Boe. We talked a bit about this earlier, and Naoko remembers the whooping.
NM: It’s like you could hear him over the valleys of Wales. Glass shattering…
JB: I was with David at the time, ’cause we were… David was on set filming and we were doing Torchwood and I was filming something with David and David said to me ‘Have you read it? Have you read it?’. I said no, I haven’t read it yet, now go away and I’ll read it, and he came back later ‘Have you read it? Have you read it?’… David! No, I haven’t read it! So I thought lunchtime I’ll read it. So I sat and I read it, and I went up to his trailer and went ‘David! I read it! Oh my God!’ and we both went ‘Can you believe it?’. For me, talking as a fan now, it changed the whole dynamic with the relationship between Jack and the Doctor. Because of him, you know, thinking… the Doctor not thinking Jack was right and shouldn’t exist, yet he has been going to him for advice… It totally changed everything. Yeah. Such a brilliant idea.
JG: What about you, Naoko? To discover that Tosh was once in an orange jumpsuit, in a secret prison?
NM: Like John said, we trust the writers so much, and these guys know our characters inside out and then some. That’s one of my favourite episodes and it just totally made sense, you know, why she would go. You would go to that length if someone, if your family member was treated like that. You’d do anything. You’d give an arm and a leg to save them. It made sense. And I loved how they got together. It was one of my favourites.
Q: In the last two episodes of season two, they mention that Captain Jack is underground for 2,000 years. How is that going to be portrayed in the following seasons?
JG: I think it’s something the character carries with him. We’re talking about suffering. How does he sustain himself for 2,000 years in the ground? That would take a lot of mental strength.
JB: I wanted to give the sense that Jack could slow himself down. He could put himself into a trance and he was basically going to put himself into a trance and never come out of it. He knows he’s going to be found. They were chucking dirt in my face. And Lachlan, who played my brother Gary, and everyone, they were shovelling dirt in my face. They’re like Okay, it’s time to get Barrowman back for his tricks. Even the crew were starting to chuck dirt on me. But I did make them go and buy freshly-bagged dirt.
Q: John, going back to the end of Doctor Who season one, when you found out that Captain Jack dies and then he’s coming back, how did you react?
JB: I was ecstatically excited. I didn’t think I was coming back when they told me I was going to be shot. I prepared myself to move on. Then when I was told I’d be coming back, but it would be in series three, I was absolutely ecstatic.
Q: Will we ever see the bachelor adventures of the Face of Boe?
JB: That’s kind of sick. You’re talking about a head in a jar. Unless someone carries him around, saying ‘Hello, meet my friend Boe’. What I’m really intrigued about is how he becomes a head.