Looking at Future Past With DOCTOR WHO Stars Gillan & Smith

NEIL GAIMAN Talks His DOCTOR WHO Episode

The sixth season of the new Doctor Who series starts up again on August 27, 2011 and fans have been debating, arguing and questioning what will come next. With the Doctor now aware that his death is not far away (or is it?) and the true identity of River Song revealed, there's a lot to talk about. Karen Gillan and Matt Smith sat down to answer some of these questions during Comic-Con International: San Diego 2011 [Click Here for the Doctor Who panel from the show!].

[Newsarama Note: These interviews were conducted as part of a roundtable. Not all questions are Newsarama, but all are noted as such for simplicity's sake.] 

Newsarama: First, basic question: What do we have in store for the next half of this season?

Karen Gillan: After the massive revelation, the relationship between Amy and River really develops and it changes the dynamic of everyone on the TARDIS. And Alex Kingston nails it. And in "Let's Kill Hitler," there's a robot thing called the Tessalecta that is really snazzy.

Matt Smith: River saying "I'm your daughter." That was Star Wars, man! Alex Kingston kept that secret from us for so long!  So we start with "Let's Kill Hitler" and the title does not let you down. Alex is brilliant in it. Karen gives the performance of a life time in episode 10. Episode 11, "The God Complex," feels like Kubrick does Doctor Who. Craig from "The Lodger" comes back in Episode 12. And then Steven brings in a brilliant finale in episode 13.

Gillan: Episode 11 is quite interesting. The monster is the Minotaur. We actually had a real guy dressed as the Minotaur chasing us down corridors and he was about seven feet tall. It was very exciting!

Nrama: With the revelation of River Song's identity, are you and Rory ready to be parents of a fully grown adult?

Gillan: Is anyone? I think Amy wants her baby back, obviously, because she doesn't want to miss out on her life. The parental instincts will kick in and it's not easy to control River because she's an even more rebellious version of Amy, which makes sense since Alex knew River's origin before any of us.

Nrama: And what about the fact that the Doctor has snogged River?

Gillan: [laughs] Um, yes. That will be an issue that is raised.

Nrama: Karen, did you know that Amy had been replaced by a ganger for most of the season?

Gillan: No, I didn't know that whole time. And that was on purpose because they didn't want there to be any hints and it is the real Amy's mind acting in the ganger's body. Steven Moffat's amazing because you get the best scripts and I feel so honored. You think you've got it figured out and then he'll do something completely different. I don't know what his brain's made of. He's actually hilarious and so good with groups of people as well.

Smith: I just love how Steven plays with time and structure in Doctor Who. And all the new areas we get to explore. It's amazing. He's very inventive.

Nrama: With everything that's happened to her, her husband and her baby, has the TARDIS lost its shine for Amy?

Gillan: Yeah, actually, that's really interesting. She really idolized the Doctor during the last series and many things have happened that could damage that, but she there's this undying faith in him that is something that is explored with the Minotaur. And then something happens that changes that completely. I can't tell you, though!

Nrama: With the new storyline of getting baby Melody back, will the story point of the Doctor's death be put on hold until further notice?

Gillan: The Doctor's death is definitely still going to happen and will be touched on.

Smith: We see it happen again. The Doctor dies. So we've got to figure THAT one out.

Nrama: Do you have a favorite Companion?

Gillan: I don't know about classic series companions really because it wasn't on when I was a young girl. I'd never actually watched it. With the new series that started in 2005, I think I have to say my favorite companion is Rose Tyler. I love Rose and I thought Billie Piper did such a good job and I just really related to her as a young girl.

Nrama: Stars of the classic Doctor Who series were often afraid of typecasting. The new show however seems to have avoided that, with Doctors and companions showing up in a variety of shows and films. Have you or any of the others involved ever had fear of typecasting?

Gillan: No, not with us. I hope to do a variety of things after Doctor Who. We have a bit of a break now so I'm doing a play on the West End. Arthur Darvill's in a play right now. And there's quite a variety in Doctor Who so you get to show a lot of aspects of what you can do. It's an easy show during filming if you don't have a social life.

Nrama: What's the biggest difference between US and UK audiences?

Gillan: Audiences in America are so expressive! They applaud and they whoop and they cheer! I guess British people are more reserved. They applaud at the end of the episode, sure, and maybe an applause at the beginning, but not during it. I remember watching the screenings in New York and how shocking it was that these people in the audience were whooping and cheering different characters and different scenes!

Smith: You can feel the excitement from them. They actually clap when the Doctor says something cool or cheer when Karen does something great!

Nrama: What kind of stuff do you watch outside of Doctor Who? Ever wish you could crossover?

Gillan: I'd love to crossover Doctor Who with Star Trek: TNG! I was so excited to meet Brett Spiner! As for what I watch, my favorite film is Whatever Happened to Baby Jane. I've always loved films with a dark side to them, even as a child. Alice in Wonderland and Little Shop of Horrors. And I love bad films: I Know What You Did Last Summer, Scream, Scream 2.

Smith: I'd love to crossover True Blood. I was really, really excited to see the people from True Blood here!

Nrama: Did you feel any added pressure for being the youngest cast in the role? Or was there a thrill and advantage to that?

Smith: Yeah, when I first came, people said well, he's too young. But actually, tell me someone who isn't too young to play a 900 plus year old Time Lord. And I think that it's interesting to have someone young play someone old. The contradiction of that is something so interesting.

Nrama: I'm actually among those who think you seem like the oldest of the new Doctors. Your Eleventh Doctor just seems more ancient than the Ninth and Tenth.

Smith: That's what Steven says to me. I just play the character as I feel it and as I think it's written.

Nrama: You also seem to act more like you were cut from the same cloth as the pre-Time War Doctors. I remember when I saw The Eleventh Hour that I thought, wow, this is a classic series Doctor where he seemed less like a possible boyfriend and more like your crazy, strange uncle.

Smith: [laughs] Yes! That's kind of what I want the Doctor to be actually. Your crazy, strange uncle.

Nrama: What do you think is the core of the Doctor?

Smith: The Doctor should be funny, mad, brilliant, ridiculous. I think at the core, what he reaches for is humanity. I think the one thing he can never be is human. He finds it peculiar that they fall in love and get married and have Christmas dinner.

Nrama: But does he want to be human when he sometimes thinks of them as primitives or stupid apes?

Smith: Well, yes and no. He certainly admires human nature, but he's a maverick, he's an alien, and his addiction is to time travel and running and saving the world. We all have our own opinion on the Doctor and that's what's sort of wonderful. He's never one thing. Ever.

Nrama: Will we see him reflect on his actions now that enemies are bringing up how he's seen by many as a monster and a warrior?

Smith: There's a real journey for the Doctor to go on now. I hope there's been a progression since I've started and I hope you see a progression of character into the anniversary. The part is constantly evolving. The villains evolve too. If you look at each villain that comes back, they've come back with something extra. And the Doctor has to evolve right back.

Nrama: Matt, is there any direction you want to take the Doctor in?

Smith: I leave that to Steven because he's better at it than me. I wait with anticipation like the fans to see what he delivers.

Nrama: Favorite monster?

Smith: Weeping Angels, I think. "Blink," man. What an episode. It's maybe one of my favorites.

Nrama: Favorite episode you've done?

Gillan: My favorite episode would be the first one that we did, "The Eleventh Hour." I think there's something quite spellbinding about that episode. We see Amy as a little girl and that relationship is formed and then it's turned on its head when he doesn't come back. Matt is quite spellbinding in that.

Nrama: Favorite Doctor outside of the Eleventh?

Gillan: I quite like Christopher Eccleston. He was really interesting!

Smith: I love Patrick Troughton [the Second Doctor]. "Tomb of the Cybermen" is one of my favorite stories. It's so creepy. What I think is wonderful about Troughton is he's weird and peculiar but he never asks you to find him weird and peculiar. He was a great actor. And I think the Cybermen are as scary as they've ever been in that one story.

Nrama: 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. There were multi-Doctor team-ups in the classic series on the 10th and 20th anniversary, an unofficial television multi-Doctor crossover on the 30th anniversary, and Doctors 5-8 met on the 40th anniversary in a radio play. Not to mention other times that other Doctors have crossed time tracks, such as when David Tennant met Peter Davison in "Time Crash." With all this in mind, it seems natural to expect past Doctors to show up in 2013. Any word on that? Has there been any discussion you can talk about?

Smith: There hasn't been any official talk about it yet. That's still over a year away. But I'd love for it to happen. How amazing would it be to see Tom Baker?! Can you imagine just seeing him back in the scarf, man? That would be amazing! So cool! And Paul McGann is a great actor, man, and a great Doctor. I say bring back Chris and Dave, too! How many Doctors can we get into one story?! Imagine if there were five or six of us in one ep and we could all just look at each other and judge each other.

Nrama: And you and McGann's Doctor could compare notes on stealing clothes from hospitals!

Smith: [laughs] Yes! That's the fun of it!

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