After all the anxiety and nail-biting, it turns out that the next actor to play the 900+ year old Timelord is unknown actor Matt Smith. Since my best mate is an actor, I feel awkward saying any actor is an unknown. It must come as an insult, surely. ‘Unknown??’ they must cry, ‘Go to the theatre! I’m there!!’ In any case, he’s not unknown anymore, is he?
Relatively unknown on television (aside from a few key performances, two of which were opposite former companion Billie Piper), Smith has a background from the stage which is something the new series is lacking. Not to get into a debate or anything, but I felt that there was a definite shift in tone when the program moved away from theatrical actors and embraced television personalities. I’m hoping Smith’s acting chops are more varied than Tennant’s and that he will bring a new quality to the part.
The 26 year-old actor will be the youngest ever to play the Doctor (unless you count the many fan films on youtube filmed in garden sheds). This will worry everyone and rightly so. Ever since the casting of 35 year old David Tennant, fans have wondered how young the part was going to go. Incoming series producer Steven Moffat was quoted as saying that he wanted to cast an older actor, possibly in his 40’s (something his predecessor Russell T Davies was dead against) and surprised himself with choosing Smith.
“The Doctor is a very special part, and it takes a very special actor to play him. You need to be old and young at the same time, a boffin and an action hero, a cheeky schoolboy and the wise old man of the universe,” Moffat stated. “As soon as Matt walked through the door, and blew us away with a bold and brand new take on the Time Lord, we knew we had our man.”
It’s completely unfair to have any real judgment on Matt Smith in the part as we have no real basis for it. Everyone will have their gut reactions which are valid, though. In a candid and modest interview, Smith revealed how he feels to be taking up the mantle of the most revered part in UK TV drama.
POSITIVE: While I was genuinely shocked to see the part going to someone I’ve never heard of (aside from the odd off-center rumor of his hat being in the ring), after hearing his voice and seeing him speak, I cannot help but to warm to him. He is obviously not a fan which many will see a detriment but I am convinced is a great boon. If he’s not a fan, he’ll be approaching it as an actor, not a geek. Sorry, but I shouldn’t be aware of how happy the actor playing the part is to be in the program. Smith seems full of energy and enthusiasm for the role and with Moffat in the driving seat, there should be nothing but great tales in store.
NEGATIVE: The too-quoiffed hair and lack of life experience and professional experience do not appeal to me at all. I’m about done with a Doctor swimming in hair product, thank you. And why was an unknown cast? Was Matt Smith cast simply so Moffat could steer an inexperienced actor who will surely be overwhelmed in the part? Rumor is that Paterson Joseph actually was cast and attended a photo shoot but the choice was shot down by the BBC. Is this young ‘pretty boy’ Doctor just to appease fans of Tennant by maintaining the status quot?
In any case, we have a long wait ahead of us that will culminate in seeing Smith’s face on everything from pencil cases to action figures so the decision has been made. Will he imitate previous Doctors as Tennant has with Tom Baker? Will he retain the obsession with pop culture? The sonic screwdriver used as a gun pointed at the audience in endless marketing material? Or will he (shock) be something very new in this series?
I cannot wait to see.
Matt Smith debuts as the Eleventh Doctor in Spring of 2010.