Interview With Capaldi

Wales Online interviewed the 12th Doctor, and although there’s not a lot of information here I’ll admit this is making me super excited to see Peter Capaldi in the role!  He sounds like another fan-boy (like David Tennant) and I think that brings something special to the show.

On being super qualified for the job

“I had to be very patient [on set], because there were always very nice prop guys telling me how to work the Tardis, and I was like, ‘I know how to work the Tardis. I’ve known for a very long time how to work the Tardis. Probably longer than you, so you don’t need to tell me’.

“I’m constantly amazed that it’s me. I wake up in the morning and I go, ‘I’m Doctor Who! I’m playing Doctor Who, I’m Doctor Who’. It’s a huge privilege and hugely exciting, and it’s funny, because I’ve known the show since I was a kid.”

On always loving the series

“There was definitely a time I grew apart from it, because you reach 17 or 18 and you start getting into sex and drugs and rock and roll and off you go, you leave the programme behind.

“I grew up in the Sixties, so I grew up with Doctor Who and The Beatles and Sunday Night At The London Palladium, school milk and bronchitis and smog and all this stuff, so it’s part of my DNA.

“So although one goes away, the prodigal son returns.”

On HIS Doctor

“You can say all you like about read-throughs, that they don’t matter, but when you’re in a room with 250 people and they’re waiting to see what the new Doctor’s like, you’ve got to go for it. My Doctor is a slightly more mysterious figure who struggles to find himself.

“He’s different from the others and yet he’s the same. That’s useless isn’t it? It’s basically useless but it’s true.

“You do your best. I don’t know whether everyone else will like it or not. It goes out to the world, so we’ll see what happens.”

On being accepted as the 12th Time Lord

“I think the nice thing about Doctor Who is whether people like it or don’t like it, somewhere, someone loves you and will always love you – and the more everyone hates you, the more they’ll love you.

“’He was my Doctor Who’, they’ll say.

“I feel guilty. Every day is amazing.”

Capaldi Interview

From ArtsBeat:

It’s not as rare as, say, a total solar eclipse or the alignment of the planets, but the arrival of a new star on “Doctor Who” is still a significant galactic event, at least to fans of that long-running BBC science-fiction series. Last summer Matt Smith announced that he was leaving the lead role of the enigmatic time-and-space adventurer known as the Doctor, and the BBC said that he would besucceeded by Peter Capaldi, the Scottish actor best known to British audiences (and some Americans as well) as Malcolm Tucker, theexplosively vulgar government official in the political satire “The Thick of It” and the film “In the Loop.”

Mr. Capaldi, 56, has since spent several Earth months filming his first season of “Doctor Who,” which begins Saturday on BBC America, and getting to know co-stars like Jenna Coleman, who plays the Doctor’s companion, Clara, and Steven Moffat, the “Doctor Who” executive producer and lead writer. In polite, gentlemanly tones, free of any vulgarity, Mr. Capaldi recently spoke to The Times about this transition and the new “Doctor Who” season. These are edited excerpts from that conversation.

You were a lifelong “Doctor Who” fan before you joined the show. Why has it held this enduring appeal for you?

Because it started when I was 5. I grew up with it. It’s in my DNA. It’s not just the monsters and this weird, Grimms’ fairy-tale feel that it has, but also this idea that you could be whisked away. It’s always been good at balancing the cosmic with the domestic. They would go out to the edge of the galaxy, and then they’ll land in a mall somewhere.

When you learned that the show was seeking a new lead actor, did you think you’d be in the mix?

I never thought that I would be Doctor Who because it just seemed to me the show had nothing to do with me anymore. Even when I was playing Cardinal Richelieu in “The Musketeers,”often, the directors we had, they’d just come off “Doctor Who.” So I was always asking them: “What was it like? What’s going to be happening next season?” And one of them said that he thought Matt might be leaving, and I was in disbelief. I just didn’t think that they would be going in this direction.

What direction do you mean?

Well, I guess, older. And more like me. [Laughs] When I look it at now, obviously you’d have to have a contrast. You couldn’t have another guy around Matt’s age. It was wiser to be very different from what David [Tennant] and Matt had been doing.

How did you learn that Steven Moffat was considering you?

I had a call from my agent, and she said, “How would you feel about being the new Doctor Who?” Which just made me laugh with joy, for about two minutes. What I didn’t know was, I was the only one being auditioned.

What was that audition like?

Steven wrote these rather wonderful scenes for my Doctor. There was a regeneration scene [not used in the finished episode], in which the Doctor doesn’t have a mirror, so he has no idea he’s gotten older. He keeps asking Clara about his face. “Does it look good? It feels good. It’s very mobile, and it seems to be working. Is it good?” And she goes, “Well, it’s O.K.” I’m like, “What do you mean, O.K.? It’s got to be better than O.K.” Finally they got me in a room, and we did it. And I thought I’d really blown that. I took a picture of myself in the cab, going to my audition, and then I took a picture in a cab coming back. I was like Rocky in “Rocky III.”I was bedraggled. But I was wrong. I guess.

What directions did Steven want to take the show under your Doctor?

He wanted to, I think, lose the overtly comic groove that they’d gotten into, which was working very well, but he felt he was perhaps done with that. It’s still very funny, but it’s in a slightly more acid way. It’s not cynical. It’s realistic and the universe equivalent of world-weary. Sardonic. The Doctor’s been round the block. But he’s still full of enthusiasm. If he offers you the chance to come with him, and you hesitate, he’s gone.

Did you think your work as the distinctively obscene Malcolm Tucker might disqualify you from the role of the Doctor?

He’s such a vivid character that, clearly, he would have an influence on how people perceive me. I could never have played Malcolm when I was 30. You had to be knocked around by life a bit to do that.

Do you think the Malcolm Tucker character showed people you could adapt yourself to different roles?

I suspect I wouldn’t be Doctor Who if it hadn’t been for Malcolm. I’d got into this groove of being a reasonably successful, very blessed actor, playing increasingly bland parts. Turning up in episodic television as the slightly untrustworthy doctor or shrink, or the M.P. with a gay secret. That was fine but quite dull. You get employed to do the thing that people think you can do. And then I met Armando Iannucci [creator of “The Thick of It”], and when I auditioned for him, I had been particularly fed up. I had an audition in the morning, for a little part in a sitcom on the BBC. I’d worked with everyone in the room, and I thought, “Why am I sitting here, going on tape for all of you guys, to do this little part?” Which I didn’t get. About an hour later, I went to meet Armando, to talk about “The Thick of It,” and I was like: “You’re supposed to be a comedy genius? Make me laugh.” It was lucky I just had the right attitude at that moment.

On the show itself, the characters are often commenting and joking about how old this new Doctor now appears. How do you feel about that?

I sometimes get a bit annoyed with it. I don’t think I’m old. I’m 56. Maybe people think that’s ancient. I’m not an old man. My eyebrows, which I’ve never taken much notice of in my life before, Steven’s decided are the most amazing comic devices. Now in the scripts, as a stage direction, instead of saying, “The Doctor looks peeved” or “The Doctor looks annoyed,” they just write, “Eyebrows.” I’m supposed to do something with my eyebrows.

Does that mean you’ve got to learn some new eyebrow moves?

What it means is, the character is finding its own tics and its own shape. That’s a good thing.

Interview With Karen Gillan

From The Irish Times comes an interview with Karen Gillan!:

You wouldn’t be so unkind as to compare life as the Doctor’s companion to the business of being a Bond girl. But neither role has propelled many actors to great stardom. More than a few of those supporting players on Doctor Who used the part to build on pre-existing fame: Billie Piper, Catherine Tate, erm, Bonnie Langford. None has, however, sprung straight from the Tardis to Hollywood.

Karen Gillan might just be the exception. It helps that, since its reinvention a little less than a decade ago, Doctor Who has become a much more glamorous beast that it was when the tentacles were hosepipes and the ray-guns were washing-up liquid bottles. But Gillan also has the drive, the zing and the ambition to make it happen.

Next week we see her in a very impressive horror film – an entry to the underexploited “haunted mirror” genre – called Oculus. And at the end of July, in Marvel’s puzzling superhero flick Guardians of the Galaxy, she turns up as a sadistic villain named Nebula.

Los Angeles has, for the moment, claimed the girl from Inverness.

“I suppose, technically, I do live there now,” Gillan says in a voice now flavoured with the odd Californian vowel. “But I am a nomad. I miss the weather. And all the people there of course. I miss how beautiful it is. People walk around Lincoln Heights in LA and say: ‘It’s beautiful’. Hey, you haven’t seen anything.”

Oculus was a canny project to pick for her first US film. Made on a modest budget, the picture has, in a country where horror is rarely reviewed fairly, picked up swathe of strong notices. Some sort of cult success is guaranteed. Gillan also managed to select an impressively strong role. Rather than playing a fleeing “final girl”, Karen turns up as a focused obsessive who will not settle until she has proved that deadly energies lurk within an antique looking-glass.

“That’s totally right,” she says. “That’s one reason I wanted to play the character so much. We are so accustomed to a female in the lead of a horror film, but they’re usually always running away. This girl is running towards the threat. The worse it gets, the more excited she is, because it proves her theory.”

You can’t really imagine Gillan playing (to pull from suitably Scottish sources) a cow’rin, tim’rous beastie. Then again, it is easy to slip into dangerous stereotypes here. We do tend to sling unhelpful words such as “feisty” at actors with such lustrously healthy heads of red hair. That can’t be fair. We no longer expect larger actors to be jolly or blonder actors to be confused.

“Ha ha. I don’t know about that. I haven’t sold myself that way. But maybe there is a common theme of ‘feisty’ to my roles: feisty outside and vulnerable within. There’s something fun about red hair flying around in adventure situations. Isn’t there?”

We go on to agree that, up in the northwestern corner of Europe, from where we both hail, red hair is really not worth remarking upon. There’s thousands of us on the streets of Belfast and Inverness.

Gillan was born in that remote city some 26 years ago. Her father was a fine singer and she began tinkling the piano with him when she was still a tiny girl. She began acting in local theatre groups and, when she was 16, moved to Edinburgh. A year later she was seeking work in London. It sounds as if she was a brave teen.

“Well, I went down there because I was at college. Then I dropped out after just two months. I was working in a pub. That was scary. What am I going to do? What happens next?”

What did happen next was that she picked up some modelling work. We hear such horror stories about this business. The very notion of the teenage Gillan going among white slavers fills one with dread.

“I heard many a story also,” she says. “It is maybe risky to have 25-year-old Russian girls in the business. I moved away at 17, but I was still in my own country. It was all very normal, I have to say. I didn’t meet anyone with an eating disorder.”

Anyway, as she explains, modelling never threatened to get in the way of acting. She was forever frustrating her agency by vanishing to auditions. Eventually, the Doctor Who gig lumbered over the horizon. As she tells it, there were no enormous negotiations, no endless call-backs, no tedious extended readings.

“It was a total rush. I went in for the last audition with Matt Smith. They hugged me and I knew then that I’d got it. It’s never happened like that before, I can tell you.”

Among the tweaks that helped the new Doctor Who become a phenomenon for the age was the decision to flesh out the Time Lord’s companion. Billie Piper and others had already prepared the ground, but Amelia “Amy” Pond, the character played by Gillan, has a particularly rich hinterland. She gets married. She has a child. There really was a great deal going on there.

“Oh yes, that’s what I loved so much about her. We didn’t just learn about her time with the doctor. We met her as a child. We saw her get married. She had a kid. We experienced all of that with her. And they showed sides of the character that wasn’t just running around with the Doctor. Other characters from her life were introduced. She was a real character.”

Her eyes and ears are our eyes and ears.

“That’s right. Doctor Who really is the story of the companions. We learn about him through them.”

It must have been tricky for Gillan to cope with that sudden avalanche of fame. She was, after all, just into her 20s when Amy made her first appearance. Some survey I’ve just made up tells us that 62 per cent of internet traffic is taken up with conversations on the minutia of Doctor Who. One day she was a struggling actor; the next she was a well-worn hashtag. That’s an education and a half.

“Well, I learned quickly that you don’t Google yourself,” she says. “We were being slated before we even shot anything. That is pretty tricky. There was a big transition. Suddenly everything we did was analysed. Then they turned to our personal lives. Yes, it really is like going from nought to hundred overnight. How did that happen?”

All reports confirm Gillan’s story that she and Steven Moffat, the show’s supreme boss, mutually agreed to manoeuvre Amy out of the series in late 2012. But those two years beside the Doctor have served her well. Just look at the publicity that gathered around her when, at Comic-Con last year, she revealed the bald head she was required to sport for Guardians of the Galaxy.

Of course, as we mentioned earlier, she does (or did) have famous hair.

“Famous hair? That’s a new one. It was a really cool thing to do. Now, I can look back on my 20s and think: I did that. I shaved my hair. I still have the hair in a wig. It’s sitting on a mannequin head in my bedroom. So I see it every time I wake up.”

Did people treat her differently when she was bald?

“Definitely. When I was completely bald people were a little intimidated by me. Or sympathetic. That was strange.”

Some sort of space adventure involving a killer racoon, Guardians of the Galaxy is sure to scare up Gillan more chatter. Since finishing that picture, she has shot a pilot for the sitcom Selfie, a contemporary retelling of Pygmalion featuring the pride of Inverness as a solipsistic valley girl. “I’m happy being American because I used to play with my Barbies in an American accent.”

Then there’s a “really exciting” project that, though apparently close to confirmation, she’s not allowed to talk about.

What a busy, busy time Gillan has had over the past five years. Doctor Who is receding in the rear-view mirror, but she still feels very close to that breakthrough role.

“We went to conventions and people told me it saved their lives. And I’ve met so many baby Amelias. They bring them along to meet me – these tiny babies named after her.”

Aww! Now, that’s what I call a legacy.

What’s Moffat Trying To Say?

From Radio Times:

Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has revealed that one of the key factors in choosing a Doctor is that they are “attractive in a very odd way”.

Writing in this week’s Radio Times, the executive producer and lead writer says that the key to being the Doctor is that you are “carved out of solid star” – but being conventionally good looking is a no-no.

“When you choose a Doctor, you want somebody who is utterly compelling, attractive in a very odd way,” writes Moffat. “None of the Doctors are conventionally attractive, but they’re all arresting. Handsome men don’t quite suit. Matt Smith’s a young, good-looking bloke from one angle but is actually the strangest looking man from another. You need that oddity; you need somebody who is carved out of solid star, really.”

Moffat says that it was easy to cast Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and John Hurt because of their innate “brilliance”.

“Doctor Who is a whopping great star vehicle, despite the fact it changes star every so often. And so it really is built around the abilities, the charm, the magnetism of a succession of different actors. I’ve cast Matt Smith, Peter Capaldi and John Hurt, but the truth is, they all cast themselves – the easiest thing to spot in the world is sheer brilliance.”

Moffat adds that Capaldi was chosen because “there is something about [his] demeanour, his eyes, his attitude – he’s tremendously bright and that comes out on screen.”

Comparing Smith and Capaldi, he says: “I always thought Matt, while a very young man, had something of the demeanour of a much older man, whereas Peter is a man in his 50s but is terribly boyish and young at times.

“I like the Doctors to have mixed messages about what age they are – you can’t really pin them down. The Doctors are all the same Doctor really, at the end of the day, but you can slide the faders up and down. And to emphasise the senior consultant over the medical student for once reminds people that he’s actually a terrifying old beast. Typically, Matt’s method would do that, too: occasionally just turn cold and you’d think, ‘You’re not really a puppy are you?’ Just like Peter Capaldi’s Doctor will sometimes remind me he’s a big kid at heart.“

Moffat also reveals his anxieties about the 50th anniversary episode before it was aired.

“I can remember sitting with my wife saying, ‘I can’t tell if it’s any good any more, it could be rubbish – I’ll have to leave the country. I’ll have to fake my own death’.”

Pipper on Ferguson

Billie Piper (Rose Tyler, The Moment) was on The Late, Late Show With Craig Ferguson last night:

The Nerdist And Barrowman

Yesterday The Nerdist had a nice chat with Captain Jack Harkness himself, John Barrowman.  I’m so jealous!  Fair warning: Language alert!

As a card-carrying Whovian, the prospect of chatting with Captain Jack Harkness himself — John Barrowman — was an exciting one over which it was worth slightly geeking out. (OK so maybe our geeking out was more than slight. How can you not love Captain Jack?!) And if you’re a fan of the Doctor Who, Torchwood, and Arrow star — and live within driving distance of Los Angeles, California — you, too, could have have the opportunity to chat him up. The actor will be hanging out in person at The Hollywood Show at the Westin LAX this weekend, April 11th – 13th, alongside a slew of other stars and celebrities. Ooh, so many fancy folk in one room!

Considering the fact that Barrowman seems to have nerd culture on lock these days, there was plenty to talk about. Over the course of 15 minutes, we bounced around from Arrow teases, the perception and rise of nerds in popular culture, and even what would happen if Jenna Elfman and Pamela Anderson were the Doctor’s companions (miscommunications are the truly conversational gifts sometimes, you guys) on the TARDIS: How’s it going? Things steady or a bit crazy for you these days?

John Barrowman: It’s crazy, but it’s good to be crazy. I’m filming Arrow up in Vancouver, so I’m commuting from our home in Palm Springs. My filming schedule changed last minute this week.

N: That wouldn’t be because of this week’s most recent episode of Arrow with Oliver’s sister finding out she’s your daughter, does it?

JB: Oh, my, God, oh, my God!

N: I know — spoiler alert! But is it safe to assume we’re going to see Malcolm Merlyn again before the season’s out?

JB: Let’s put it this way: I’m going up next week to film.

N: Ooh! That’s exciting. It must be really fun to play Malcolm since he’s such an unabashed villain.

JB: Oh, yeah. He’s great and I love him. In a way there’s a lot of similarities to Jack Harkness and Malcolm in the sense that he’s unapologetic about what he does and how he does it, except Jack was doing it for the good of everybody. Malcolm thinks he’s doing it for the good of everybody, but, really, he’s just killing people and being ruthless.

You know, people always ask me if I like playing the bad guy, but I don’t play him like a bad guy. I play him as kind of a hero that’s a bit troubled and he’s doing it in the wrong way, but, he really thinks in his heart of hearts [that he’s good]. I think that’s what helps me make him likeable. People say, “You know, I see why he’s doing it but, my God, it’s terrible. But I totally get it!”

N: Well it’s like they say: every villain is the hero of their own story.

JB: Of course he is! And that’s how I like to play Malcolm. And for fans to say that to me, it’s like, I’ve done it. I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve.

There’s a lot more villain-esque hero stuff to come [laughs]. And I can’t say any more or I’ll have to send a vice through the phone and zap you.

N: Duly noted. I will back away slowly.

JB: [laughs] Good!

N: It was interesting to see, though, the one time your character was truly afraid — at the mention of R’as al Ghul. Have the writers told you any of the history between the characters?

JB: I have been talked to and I have a theory and I can’t tell you anything except the fear in Malcolm’s face was a little bit of fear, but it was also a little bit of thrill because, holy shit, what can happen here? They’re going to be thrilled to see what happens.

N: Ooh, that’s super vague, but also exciting.

JB: [singing] Ahhhhh! That gets an ethereal “ahhhh!”

N: A choir of angels singing in anticipation.

JB: There you go, just not some angels that will come down and turn into cement.

N: Ain’t nobody got time for no weeping angels! Blink and you won’t miss them, unfortunately.

JB: [laughs] Exactly!

N: Coming from two pretty epic fandoms like Doctor Who and Arrow, you must have many varied experiences at conventions and stuff like this.

JB: It’s funny, because the Arrow fans are more men, Doctor Who are more teens and young people, and Torchwood fans are like, older women and some married men. I’ve got one of the most diverse fanbases I’ve come across. You get every demographic with me. You name it, I’ve got it. It’s something new for them — having some of the sci-fi genre people there [at The Hollywood Show].

N: Thanks to the increased popularity of sci-fi, no doubt.

JB: Yeah, I’ve watched the change in the last 5 years. I’ve watched it from being “The Nerddom” as I call it — and I was part of — to now. And I like to think that David [Tennant], myself, Christopher [Eccleston], and Billie [Piper], and all of us who were part of the first initial stint of Doctor Who, we were the ones who started to change all that. Firefly with Nathan [Fillion], Battlestar Galactica and all of that … I remember the first Battlestar! I was a real nerd back then.

But it has become more mainstream, and what I find really interesting when I go to do the conventions is how — even at places like Comic Con — you see newscasters talking about “all these weird people out wearing costumes, oh my god!” and I just want to say to them “You know what, fuck you! We bring a huge amount to your city and you’re sitting there making fun of us and having a poke at it, get your asses down there and see what it’s really about.” These geeks and nerds are out there having a fantastic time — you might even enjoy yourself. It drives me crazy!

N: Ah yes, nerd ire. It always seems those folks are the ones who can’t let go and live a little.

JB: I wanted to start shoving the TV like, “let’s make fun of you and your Botox face and your big hair and way too much make-up!” And that’s just the men that I’m talking about.

N: It’s so silly. Geeks are bringing home the bacon and owning the creative space right now!

JB: And, hell, yeah! It’s like I say, “Never apologize for being a geek because the assholes never apologize for being assholes.” Pop culture is being driven by us, and, you know, I think that’s why a lot of geeks empathize a lot with gay men and women because they were in the closet. And I was a double whammy as a gay geek: I was right in the back of that closet! It’s a big change and so it should be. Everybody should be represented in movies and TV.

N: I completely agree. Now, of course I have to ask — because I’m a huge Doctor Who fan…

JB: Yes! As I am.

N: I know! I would love to get your thoughts on the casting of Capaldi as Twelve.

JB: Well, I can’t comment on how he’s going to be because, like everybody, I haven’t yet seen him do it. Peter was on Torchwood, though — Children of Earth — and he is a wonderful actor and he’s committed to what he does. I think it’s very interesting, they way they’ve gone from Christopher to David and then Matt Smith — who was much younger — and now they’ve gone back to an older, Tom Baker-ish age Doctor, which I grew up with and so I think it’s interesting. I think it’ll be really good! He’s a fan of Doctor Who, and when you get people who are fans playing the roles it works. There’s no doubt that it works, so I have no fear that he’s going to be great.

N: It’s really a return to the old form.

JB: Yeah, everything’s gotta change. I remember when we started Doctor Who and people were saying — when we did the revamp — “Oh, my God, it’s not going to work, we’re never going to watch it! It’s not going to be like the last one,” and they still say that with every Doctor. But every time they’ve tuned in and they go on the journey with the Doctor. It’s not about who he is, it’s about his journey, his story, and his times in the TARDIS with the companions. That’s why people watch.

N: I imagine that Jack Harkness would have a lot of fun in the TARDIS with Jenna Coleman and Samuel Anderson, the two companions this season. That would be a hilarious dynamic.

JB: That would be very interesting, one talking about her boobs and the other talking about Scientology… Jenna’s a Scientologist, right?

N: …Is she? If so that’s news to me.

JB: Oh, no, I’m thinking of somebody else, sorry! I’m thinking of Jenna Elfman and Pamela Anderson.

N: What a TARDIS team that would be!

JB: Oh, my God, between the boobs and the Scientology — wouldn’t that be a total dynamic! Let’s have that!

N: Could you even imagine?

JB: The Doctor would be like “Scientology? What’s that?” “L. Rob Hubbard is your creator? No, no, I created L. Ron Hubbard!” Wicked.

N: L. Ron Hubbard meets the Doctor. I’m sure he’d have some things to say to him.

JB: Oh, yeah, the Doctor’s totally the Daddy.

N: [laughs] And on that note it’s time for me to let you go… Thanks so much for talking with me, John.

JB: It’s been perfect. We’re now at Costco and I’ve got to go buy a television.

Throwback Thursday

I laughed WAY too hard at this!  It’s Matt Smith’s first American talk show interview on November 16th, 2010.  He just kept digging himself into a hole…