There maybe a new man playing The Doctor now every week on Doctor Who, but the fans still have a soft spot in their hearts for the man who just left the role, Matt Smith. At Toronto Fan Expo Saturday night, Smith re-united with one of his companions, Mr. Rory Pond, Arthur Darvill, and took questions from a packed house of people who paid for a special ticket for the privilege. The result was as frantic, and funny, and insightful as any Doctor Who adventure, but it was mostly just funny.
Smith and Darvill were relaxed and had an easy chemistry together, in part from all their years in the TARDIS together, but also because they knew each other before they were ever in the orbit of Doctor Who. One of the first questions concerned Smith’s reaction to hearing the news that he was cast as The Doctor.
“I saw your little face on the news and I texted you to say that I wanted a pencil case with you face on it,” said Darvill.
“It’s one of those jobs that you get where you don’t know how to react,” said Smith. “My first thought was don’t hate me world,” he added noting the popularity of his predecessor David Tennant at the time.
A young girl named Amelia asked the pair how they got into acting. For Smith, who was a footballer (or soccer player for the North American translation) said he had a “wonderful teacher” who encourage him to put his talents into the acting craft. Darvill meanwhile, got artistic encouragement at home. “My parents were creative people,” he said of his puppeteer mother and musician father, “so I grew up in an artsy household.”
Advice was a big topic of conversation, and Smith says that the best advice he ever got came from his father. “He said, ‘Time is an imposition on one’s dignity, so never let it be your ruler.’”
“There’s no way I can top that,” deadpanned Darvill.
As to guidance for his successor Peter Capaldi, Smith said he did offer him one piece of advice for taking on the part of The Doctor. “’Listen to no one,’” Smith said he told Capaldi. “It has to be your own invention and everyone has an opinion. There’s such a machine behind it.”
Moving on to other areas of interest, the duo were asked what other science fiction franchises they might like to appear in. Smith made a joke about being put on the spot, but somebody off-side yelled, “Terminator!” trying to get Smith to spoil his role in next summer’s Terminator: Genisys, but Smith shrugged it off saying, “you never know.”
“I’d like to play Jabba the Hutt,” said Darvill.
“Well, you’ll have to put on a bit of weight,” offered Smith, who then said that he’d like to play a lesser known character from a sci-fi property of the past. “Someone old, someone weird, someone cool. Other than The Doctor,” he added.
After that it was time for a musical break. No really. Upon request for a song, both Smith and Darvill called upon their background in musical theater to belt out a chorus of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and it wouldn’t be the last time a song was sung in the panel. Daria, who was at Fan Expo as a birthday excursion, asked if Smith and Darvill could sing her the “Happy Birthday” song. They obliged with some help from the audience.
Other questions desperately wanted answered by fans: Fish fingers and custard, what does it taste like?
“It’s lovely,” said Smith. “I met a family today that eats it whenever Doctor Who is on.”
Any Doctor Who bad guy that he didn’t get a chance to face off with but wish he did?
“I wish that I had gotten some time with The Master,” said Smith, “but I have a feeling that I am The Master.”
Are Smith and Darvill at all like their characters?
“People always look at me and say ‘you look nice,’” said Darvill, “but I’m really horrible.”
One fan wanted to know if a musical episode of Doctor Who was ever considered, and Smith offered that Darvill, who he calls a talented musician, was actually working on an idea for one. Darvill said he took inspiration from the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but he couldn’t make the music fit an appropriate story or script.
“Doctor Who lends itself to a musical episode,” added Smith encouragingly. “It would fit in so perfectly with the world.”
As the panel drew to a close, Darvill was asked how he would play The Doctor if he were ever cast in the part. “I would not want to play The Doctor because it’s already been done how I want to see it done,” he said quite sincerely.
Given the roomful of bowties, tweed jackets and fezzes, there was probably a lot of agreement on that point.