When Matt Smith took the stage at the bi-annual Television Critics Association press tour this morning in Los Angeles, he started the day by saying that it was “business as usual” on the Doctor Who set, despite being about to embark upon filming his final episode as the Doctor. He, along with producer Marcus Wilson and “companion” Jenna Louise Coleman, were on site to promote the 50th Anniversary of the series, but naturally, attention was drawn greatly to Smith’s exit and the future of the show without him. As the minutes ticked off, Smith did grow increasingly sentimental about his decision to leave the show.
“I’ve done it for four years and we shoot nine to 10 months per year. The show has come to a natural tipping point. I’ll miss it. It’s a hard choice, but it’s at the top of the cycle now, so it’s the right time,” Smith addressed the critics, LA TV Insider Examiner included.
“At times I’ve pondered it and thought I’ve made a huge mistake [but] the thing about Doctor Who is it always looks forward. That’s the key. It will carry on…and people will forget about me.”
But now is a time when Doctor Who has more eyes on it than ever. The show just presented at San Diego Comic Con and has taken on much more mainstream success in the States since Smith took on the role four years ago. Coming up on such a big anniversary, as well, all eyes– and media– is on the franchise.
When Smith first got the iconic role, he admitted that “panic” was the only thing going through his mind. He knew the scope of its importance before signing his contract, but just how beloved it was became apparent during his first day on set. He had been told it would be a closed set– which in industry speak means only essential personnel (camera operator, director, boom operator, etc) watch the scene as it shoots– but “everyone, about 90 people” turned up. They had to get a look at the 11th Doctor, probably in part to make sure he met their approval as fans, not just employees on the show.
That episode, though, quickly became one of Smith’s favorite moments from the entire series, probably because it marked the beginning of what became a “transformative” role for him. Smith noted that in many ways, playing the Doctor is his career, in addition to making it. He is now just hoping to move on to other great roles.
“Just because I’ve done Doctor Who doesn’t give me any divine right for other jobs, but I hope it does,” Smith said.
When it comes to the future of the show without Smith, though, Wilson admitted to casting a “wide net” to look for the “best actor possible” to fill the role in order to find someone “brilliant.” There are certainly big shoes to fill, and something tells us that whoever slips on the tweed coat to take the spot as the 12th incarnation, a lot more than 90 people will be watching on day one to put their stamps of approval on him.
Doctor Who returns to BBC America on November 23 2013.
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