It was blasphemous for you to think, but you went and did it… hell, we’ve all done it. At one point or another, we’ve all pondered the thought, “It’ll never happen, but what if an American were to play The Doctor?” That’s okay, we’re not here to judge. This is a safe environment, one protected under convention 15 of the shadow proclamation. Really, what’s the big deal anyway? Is it so dangerous to ask: What Yankee could, despite British supremacy, be accepted to play the lord of time?
As ridiculous a thought that is to pose (I know, how dare we, free thinking peoples taint British rule with the notion of Americanization) it’s completely warranted when you think of all the Brits who’ve taken up Colonial superhero roles (Christan Bale as Batman, Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, Patrick Stewart as Professor X… etc). Couldn’t someone from the U.S.A take on an established British character? No, you say? Well this is a list for those who wonder “What if?” What IF Doctor Who was still, inherently, a British produced show, but an American actor took the reigns of the TARDIS? Here is a list of worthy entries; some adventitious, some funny and others who are absolutely perfect.
#11. Charlie Day
When he’s not acting like a raving simpleton as Charley Kelly in Always Sunny in Philadelphia (a character, mind you, who schemes to pursue his goals and often loses track of reality and literally adopts the personality of other characters) he’s battling his love affair of monsters whilst trying save the earth from them as Dr. Newton Geiszler in Pacific Rim. Portraying insane, loud, extremely manic and absurdly smart characters… it’s like Charlie Day cherry picked characteristics of the best Doctors for his actor persona. The Doctor is often ridiculous, and no one is quite as ridiculous as Charlie Day.
#10. Alton Brown
As if the notion of an American playing the doctor wasn’t preposterous enough, I gotta go and suggest that hipster-ish, jib-jabbing chef from the Food Network? It’s not such an out-there suggestions when you think about it. Yes, he’s a chef, not an actor. But, he IS a TV personality and a good one at that. Alton could be described as the gentleman’s mad scientist. Classy and steadfast but exuberant and fast-talking – a vehicle of humor and spastic activity. His mix of hyperactive wit and culinary common sense (and theatrical escapades involving food) is what made him the a Food Network star. He has the sophistication and twinkle for the makings of a good Doctor. He could, if anything, make a brilliant fish fingers and custard.
#9. Samuel L. Jackson
“Say Who again, I dare you!” Like you’re gonna argue with this bad mother f*cker? He will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy his brothers. And you will know his name is the Time Lord when he lays his vengeance upon thee. Sam Jackson might be a little too “bad” for the wild and whimsy aspects needed for The Doctor, but his coarse and cheeky manner could bring a who* (meant “whole” but imma leave it) new level of attitude to the role. Or maybe I’m just reading too much Pulp Fiction/Doctor Who fanfiction.
#8. Stephen Colbert
Given his Emmy-Award winning career as a satirical conservative TV journalist on Comedy Central’s smash hit The Colbert Report, it is occasionally forgotten that Stephen Colbert was, and IS, an actor. He was fantastic as a closeted gay high school teacher on the ahead-of-its-time cult favorite, Strangers With Candy, for instance. As for what kind of Doctor he would make: He’d be the confident and somewhat condescending “expert” type–even though you’re about 90% certain he’s pulling most of his “facts” out of his ass. He’d be the type that’s capable of spouting the most ridiculous absurdities and somehow making them sound like legitimate science. It should also be kept in mind that Colbert is a first-class Nerd, and would treat the role with the reverence it deserves, despite the handicap of being born and raised in the Colonies. And damn, he looks good in front of a Police Box.
#7. Bill Cosby
Just because the trend since the reboot of the franchise has been to hire relatively young, relatively handsome (no offense, Bill) and relatively unknown actors to fill the good Doctor’s shoes, doesn’t mean we couldn’t someday see a more mature–and QUITE well known face at the helm of the TARDIS. Cosby’s Doctor could be like a kinder, more avuncular (your vocabulary word for the day: It means “Grandfatherly”) take on William Hartnell’s First Doctor. Or possibly the disheveled, befuddled wise-man type–the sort of character the late Peter Falk embodied as TV detective Columbo… (and wouldn’t Falk have been an amazing Doctor? Unfortunately, this list is limited to the living.)
#6. Johnny Depp
A lot of people around the Internet have throw Depp’s name into the Doctor Who hat simply because of his resume filled with eccentric and out-there characters, but I wasn’t always sure about this choice. Most likely this hesitation stems from seeing Dark Shadows. Then I thought about it a little more and figured that Depp could bring some serious darkness out in the character, as well as the fun, humorous side. When I think of the movies where Depp faces some horror, he has a way of displaying the true depths of fear and loathing. Yeah, I went there. You just don’t waste the chance to make an off hand Fear and Loathing joke.
$5. Robin Williams
Williams started his television career playing an alien, so he’s got a leg up already. While the younger, more frenetic Robin Williams would probably not have been suited to the role–the mature, seasoned, multifaceted Williams of today might just be perfect. He’s funny enough to keep audiences entertained and has the gravitas to captivate fans during dramatic moments. Seriously, if you only know the man for his comedy, you’re missing out. Go see One Hour Photo, The World According To Garp, or The Fisher King–and you’ll see what I mean by “multifaceted”.
#4. Felicia Day
Erratic, scatterbrained, hyperactive–all words that could be used to describe the loveable Doctor. And, coincidentally, all words that could be used to accurately describe Felicia Day. From her emergence into the geek world via Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to the continued growth of her cred and career through The Guild, Eureka and numerous appearances on Supernatural, Day has proven that she can keep us entertained. Watching her race around the TARDIS pulling her hair out could be a lot more interesting than people might first think. And, of course, she just happens to be a ginger.
#3. Neil Patrick Harris
Birthed into fame via the long-running Doogie Howser, M.D., Neil Patrick Harris has since came to hold a special place in many geek hearts (and in more than a few fangirls’ naughty dreams). Though he may not at first feel like the best candidate for The Doctor, when you think of the combination of his eternally youthful appearance with his proper age (he’s 40, btw) and magnanimous charisma then, he seems to fit the role in a special way. He’s become a favorite on How I Met Your Mother and transitioning to charm an even larger audience by jumping into the TARDIS doesn’t look so far fetched. Personally, I say bring on the NPH! He would be LEGEN… (wait for it) …DARY!
#2. Christopher Lloyd
He’s already one of Geekdom’s favorite Doctors. We could even give him a female companion named Marty, short for Martha or just spell it with an “I”, Marti. Lloyd is the square peg that easily slips into that round Doctor Who hole. He’s played quirky, off-beat characters his entire career. If he couldn’t play the Doctor himself, he’d make a great guest star Time Lord for a season. Maybe that strange “Uncle” the Doctor never mentions.
#1. Gene Wilder
“Come with me, and you’ll be, in a world of pure imagination.” If you forget about the chocolate factory and replace it with a TARDIS then Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka is the epitome of classic Who. With his purple suit, top hat, bow tie, flute and propensity for sing talking… Wonka is whimsy and wonder personified. Trademark wit and, often overlooked, great acting ability, Gene is one of those rare performers that you never take your eyes off. When he’s not making you bust your gut with laughter, he captivates you with his velvety soft voice. Whether it’s Willy Wonka, Young Frankenstein or any one of his films co-starring Richard Pryor, Gene has shown that oh-so-magic spark. I’d just as soon hear him tell me a bed time story as I would go on adventure in space and time with him.