London MCM Expo October 2012: Interview with Matt Smith

Oozing cool and with a very friendly approachable manner, MCM Buzz was blessed with the presence of Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor himself at the London MCM Expo on Friday, participating at a roundtable interview.

It was a very intimate and entertaining affair, where Smith spoke about the past, present and future of Doctor Who (as well as a few fun ‘What If’s?’) alongside discussion about the release of Series 7: Part One of Doctor Who on DVD.

Q: The DVD comes out on Monday, which is my birthday, incidentally what  a great present!

Matt Smith: Hey! Mine’s on Sunday!

Q: Yeah! Birthday buddies!

Matt Smith: Hey, Scorpion!

Q: Yeah.

Matt Smith: Yeah. Passionate lover.

(Laughter)

Q: Wow.

Matt Smith: Sting of the tail.

Q: Sometimes.

Matt Smith: Moody.

Q: Very. (Laugher) There’s a few extra scenes on it; there’s the Pond Life and there’s the Asylum of the Daleks prequel.

Matt Smith: There’s the Asylum prequel, there’s a thing with the gunslinger from Toby (Whithouse), there’s a sort of 12-minute Comic-Con thing in San Diego, backstage-y stuff, there’s behind the scenes and stuff. It’s the usual add-ons which make a Who box set a Who box set.

Q: More so than any other Doctor, you filmed more sort of extras, more sort of stories and bits of fiction that have appeared online and appeared on various TV shows. Out of all these ones that you’ve done over the past few years are there any that stick out in your mind as being your favourite extra that you’ve been involved in?

Matt Smith: That’s really interesting actually. Do you know what I love doing? I did a prom at the Royal Albert Hall, and Steven (Moffat) wrote a sort of thing for that with me and a bomb and I go up a ladder and I come out actually at the Albert Hall. That was sort of fantastic really.

Q: Yeah it was an amazing reaction.

Matt Smith: Yeah it was. It was wonderful. And that prequel was really fun, it’s a really simple idea: bomb. Got it. Gotta get rid of it. You can do loads with the Doctor and that. So that was one of my favourites I think.

Q: Richard E. Grant who is in the Christmas Special, obviously he’s been part of the Who universe for a bit what with the-

Matt Smith: -Playing the Doctor and the-

Q: -Yeah. What was he like on set?

Matt Smith: Fantastic! He’s just a joy.

Q: Did he seem ridiculously excited to finally be canonical?

Matt Smith: Yeah, well, he’s such a pro and such a brilliant villainous actor as well and I’m a huge fan of his. I think for sort of our generation you watch Withnail (And I) and you just go, you know, that defines so much for all of us as a film. And (laughs) he very kindly did an impression: “Booze. I must have booze! Give me booze!” He’s just a wonderful, kind, clever, brilliant actor. He’s got a lovely spirit and nature and I think he’s perfect for Doctor Who.

Q: Is there anything you’d love to do with the part that you still haven’t had the chance to do? You know, if Steven said, “Hey Matt, write an episode,” what would you love to do in that?

Matt Smith: Gosh, that’s a good question. I mean, it’s tricky isn’t it. I’m paid to turn up and get the words in the right order and when you have someone like Steven it’s just reading episode one of next season and I was like “Where does he get these ideas for villains?” It’s so incredible. I’ve always thought that going down to – it’s been done before a couple of times – but I think we could do it quite interestingly nowadays to Atlantis. That would be kinda interesting, the lost city, and seeing what the hell’s going on down there, but, I dunno, I think Patrick Troughton went down there.

Q: Yes, there’s a (Jon) Pertwee one-

Matt Smith: There’s a Pertwee as well, so my ideas aren’t that original, which Steven very acutely pointed out: “Well actually there’s been two episodes based in Atlantis, so…” and I was like, “Oh okay, fair enough.”

Q: Well you can turn around and say to Steven you’ve done a few stories in World War II-

Matt Smith: Yeah.

Q: Let’s do it anyway.

Matt Smith: Yeah, damn you Moff! But yeah, he’s so brilliant I just let him get on with it really and try and get my bit right.

Q: You filmed in New York and took on the Weeping Angels in The Angels Take Manhattan, are there any other cities in the world you’d love to film Doctor Who in and who would you take on?

Matt Smith: God, so many… Rio. I think going to Rio would be fun. I think you could make a great one in Berlin, I think you could make some sort of mad – imagine going to like the plains of Africa, or, I think like the Mississippi River or something could be fun, some sort of awful monster down there. Anything in South America, really. Bolivia, Argentina, Peru, the Inca Trail… if anyone wants to donate any money to let us make episodes abroad, then, they can be in it!

(Laughter)

Q: You’ve got the 50th Anniversary coming up next year, how do you feel about the idea of kind of possibly working with past actors from the show?

Matt Smith: Well, I mean, I think it’s a lovely idea, whether or not it’s something that’s in any way achievable nowadays I just don’t know, because actors have other commitments and they move on from the show, but I’ve enjoyed in the past the multi-Doctor episodes. I’ve enjoyed watching them. I just think if you’re a fan of the show it’s what all of us – it’s just a cool thing, isn’t it? Seeing them going “Ahh! They’re talking to each other! And they’re both the Doctor!” But yeah, that is a Steven Moffat question. He’ll come up with something brilliant. Of course I know what it is but I can’t say, but whether or not that’s achievable I dunno…

Q: Am I right in thinking you’ve not seen any (Doctor Who episodes) before you started in the role?

Matt Smith:  No, no, not really, I mean, I was aware of it of course, but no. I mean you’re absolutely right I, it wasn’t something I was… I didn’t grow up with it. How old are you? Did you get into it anyway?

Q: I had good parents, so…

(Laughter)

Matt Smith: So they sort of pass it down to you and you knew straight away.

Q: So have you immersed yourself in quite a lot of it since?

Matt Smith: Yeah, I mean as soon as I got the job I went through tons and tons. I got them sent to me, pretty much every episode that I could get my hands on. Yeah, so Troughton, Pertwee, (Tom) Baker. I hate to say I never watched really any Colin Baker, many of his episodes. Bit of (WilliamHartnell… so I dipped in. But I started my first Doctor, I told him this, was David Tennant. I did it the wrong way around. I sort of watched all of David’s stuff then all of the Christopher (Eccleston) stuff and I went backwards from there, I don’t know why.

Q: What do you think of the (1996 Doctor Who) movie?

Matt Smith: A Doctor Who movie?

Q: The one with-

Matt Smith: -Oh with (Paul) McGann!

Q: McGann, yeah.

Matt Smith: Yeah, it’s good. I kinda think the Doctor isn’t the kind of guy who goes and drinks cocktails at parties though, do you know what I mean? It’s not like, if he did, then he goes and he drops all the cocktails and he finds that in the olive that there is something that is about to explode and kill everyone. I mean Paul is a great Doctor actually, a fantastic Doctor, but I don’t think it’s the most Doctor-y of stories.

Q: Mark Gatiss and Neil Gaiman are writing episodes for the second half (of Series 7). How do you feel about those episodes? Neil’s specifically is not necessarily connected storywise but kinda thematically to The Doctor’s Wife, which won awards I think. Is there anything to say about that?

Matt Smith: No, it’s very different, but again I think it will be a fan’s favourite because, well, without giving anything away, it just will be, because there’s something in it. And Neil’s brilliant ideas will always, you know, add a level to Doctor Who which will be interesting. Mark, wonderful writer, wonderful actor, wonderful friend, wonderful man, he is literally the nicest man on the planet, Mark Gatiss, he’s just a dream to work with and he really understands the show. He gets it, he gets the Doctor, and you’re always in good hands with him. You’ve got Diana Rigg, who’s fantastic in his episode, so, you know, we always have high ambitions.

Q: You mentioned Diana Rigg and of course Richard E. Grant before. Is there any actor that professionally you’d love to work with.

Matt Smith: In the show?

Q: Yes.

Matt Smith: Oh gosh, there’s a lot actually. I always get this wrong and I always go home and think, “Why didn’t I say that before! That person! Damn.” Eric Cantona, I always say that, but there are people like… right. I’m going to think about this properly. I think Jennifer Saunders would be great in Doctor Who. I always have a really good answer but I’m gonna get home and go “Ahhhh, that’s who I should have said!”

Q: I spoke to Frank Cottrell Boyce yesterday, who wrote the Olympic thing, and just as a sort of last question I asked is there ever anything you’d ever fancy writing? And he said he was very aggrieved that he’s not written for Doctor Who and he would absolutely love to.

Matt Smith: Really?

Q: How would you feel about him and maybe even Danny Boyle maybe guest-directing? Seeing those sort of two guys who kind of define-slash-redefine Britishness over the summer.

Matt Smith: Danny Boyle; I would just have a heart attack if he came anywhere near Doctor Who, I’d love it. He, I just think he’s the most brilliant director. I completely admire his work. Honestly I think everything he does, he adds pace, style, whether it’s zombies, or a guy riding a bike on the way to a cliff or, you know, a guy running down the street getting hit by a car, I think he’s just brilliantly stylistic and his DP (Director of Photography) he uses, Anthony Don Mantle, I mean, he’s one of my favourite filmmakers around. He’d be an amazing director for Doctor Who, but I don’t think we’d get him.

Q: Frank’s very keen to write one and obviously they’ve got a relationship.

Matt Smith: Really?

Q: That’s what he said to me. He said he was aggrieved that he’s not had the chance.

Matt Smith: What a shame.

Q: Have a word with Steven.

Matt Smith: I can tell who else would be great. Well, Edgar Wright. I think he’d do something brilliant. I think he’d do something really, really clever with it. But we’re very lucky to have Steven, you know, I count him in that bracket. I think he’s a genius.

Q: Are there any characters that you would like to see return?

Matt Smith: I really liked Brian Pond (Mark Williams) I really liked Helen McRory’s fish woman as well. I thought she was kinda cool and the Doctor sort of liked flirting with her a little bit I think. I’d welcome her back.

Q: This is the second convention you’ve done this month. How are you finding the whole convention experience?

Matt Smith: I enjoy them! I dunno what the kind of stigma there is about them. People think we all turn up and get naked and dance around a Dalek. But yeah, the enthusiasm, I’ve only ever been struck by really nice enthusiastic and lovely energy to the place and people having a good laugh and I think it’s a really good thing. I think you get to meet people in shows you really like, and science fiction fans are enthusiastic and loyal. I’m a big supporter of conventions, I think they’re good.

Q: Is there anything you’re particularly geeky about?

Matt Smith: Football. I love The Walking Dead. I love zombies and vampires. Although I think vampires have been a bit abused of late. But still I love vampires. What else am I geeky about? I’m geeky about quite a lot of things actually.

Q: Are there any TV shows you would like Doctor Who to crossover with?

Matt Smith: I want the Doctor to meet Heisenberg from Breaking Bad. Kinda just going, “You’re a badass, man. I’m gonna make you good. I’m gonna bring you back to my side, it’s going to be alright dude, don’t worry.” And cause I just love – I think Bryan Cranston’s incredible. I mean there’s loads of shows I think the Doctor would be – imagine if he turned up with all the zombies, he’d be like, “Guys, don’t worry about it, we’ll figure this out, okay?” In The Walking Dead, you know, “Also. Can’t show any blood. So can we just chill out on the eating.” He’d definitely strike up a conversation with one of the zombies. He wouldn’t just shoot them. And that’s the great thing about the Doctor; he gets them talking.

Q: Back to Christmas, obviously you can’t tell us too much, but there’s been sneaky pictures of snowmen and obviously it looks very Victorian. What is it with the Doctor and the Victorian age? He’s popped up there quite a few times.

Matt Smith: I think the Doctor quite likes the Victorian age. I think if the Victorians could see us now they’d go, “You’re not building anything. You’re not really making anything anymore.” Think about what they achieved, the Victorians. They’d be sort of appalled by us now today I think. Lazy, wasteful bunch of people that we are, and I think the Doctor kinda likes them for that. They’re straight talking, tough, and productive. And I think, visually, it’s quite wonderful the Victorian age, and it’s great the see the Doctor go back in time. And on the subject of snowmen, I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Q: Are you a fan of Raymond Briggs’ Snowman, out of curiosity?

Matt Smith: The Snowman? Of course, Walking In The Air and all that. Oh yeah, man, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if that wasn’t on! My friend, my best friend has a very, very passionate relation to that. I remember watching it as a kid and just… flying through the air with a big snowman. It’s great. It’s what childhood is. 

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