As Matt Smith is ending his run on beloved sci-fi series “Doctor Who,” Jenna Coleman is just beginning. Both actors traveled to San Diego for Comic-Con International where Zap2it caught up with them for a roundtable conversation in the BBC America press room.
Their casual banter was evident as they discussed the most recent “Who” season, working with special guest stars David Tennant, Billie Piper and John Hurt on the 50th Anniversary special and the sad fact that Smith is about to say goodbye (in this year’s annual Christmas special).
Matt, when did you tell Steven Moffat [the current “Who” executive producer] that you’d be leaving the show?
Matt Smith: We knew, even when Jenna got the part we knew that I was gonna go. Well, we talked about it, but it wasn’t official. Me and Steven, we talked about it and obviously those conversations are private and should remain that way. We’re great friends and he’s very respectful and I’m very respectful of him and we came to a mutual decision that’s best for the show. I just felt perhaps it was time for someone else to come and have a go.
And obviously he would need time to prepare the storyline?
MS: You sort of see Season 8 leading up to it — Trenzalore. Isn’t it amazing though that Trenzalore was mentioned in Season 5? Steven just always had a plan.
Jenna Coleman: So clever, peppering plots [with details]. I watched ‘Bells’ recently and you just see, the storytelling is so so clever.
Jenna, when you joined the show you talked about Matt showing you the ropes and making you feel welcome. Are you excited to be able to do that when the new Doctor joins the show?
JC: In the same way I was welcomed, I’m looking forward to giving that support and helping a new Doctor find his feet in what is going to be a really exciting adventure for him. Somebody doing a fresh take, it’s a whole … I don’t know, we’ll see. I’m not there yet!
Matt, have you thought about your regeneration scene? Would you want to do something different?
MS: That’s a Moffat question I’m afraid because he’s the man who comes up with the ideas. I just try to get the lines in the right order. I trust and I know that he’ll write something brilliant and heartfelt and imaginative because that’s what Steven does.
It’s not that often that a Doctor gets to work with another Doctor.
What was it like for both of you to work with David Tennant and also
Billie Piper for the 50th Anniversary special?
they’re great guys. And John Hurt, who is like a master class every day.
Tennant is a wonderful Doctor and a wonderful bloke. Billie’s just a
dream. We had fun, you know?
JC: There were days where I
just had to pinch myself. Just the image of the three Doctors together
and I’d be in a scene with them. It’s just a dream. I’m really the
luckiest girl to have three Doctors! And just the way to watch them work
and the way they interact, I’m really excited about it.
MS: We’re going to see a clip today [during the panel], I’m really excited, because we don’t see anything.
Jenna, Clara’s the ‘impossible girl’ and we seem to have gotten the answer to it, but have we really? Is it just about her falling through space and time or is there a little more to it?
JC: Where we left off with ‘Name of the Doctor,’ the 50th is about a celebration of the Doctor. The resolve is there are echoes of Clara through all of time and space.
MS: Which was a really rewarding payoff. We don’t know how he’s gonna end these things sometimes and it’s always pleasing when the resolution is satisfactory.
JC: I’m really enjoying that being solved because it means that now we go in a new direction, it feels quite different.
MS: You don’t have to play any of that any more, do you?
MS: That confusion. Now you can just be adventurous.
JC: Exactly, we’re going somewhere else now, which is fun.
Any favorite moments from last season?
MS: So many. Driving up the side of The Shard!
JC: I love the TARDIS on the cloud. I just love that image, it’s the fairy tale of it — it’s magic.
MS: Yeah, climbing up the staircase.
JC: I love all that.
MS: The Doctor asking her to come with him and saying ‘It’s mine.’ I like all of that new stuff.
JC: The new TARDIS.
MS: I thought that opening sequence in ‘The Name of the Doctor’ with all the Doctors was amazing. That was fabulous. Jenny, Vastra and Strax. Saying goodbye to River. There were a lot of story and plot moments that I thought were great.
Jenna, it must have been a thrill to become one of the companions but then to find out not only is Clara a companion, she’s now a part of the entire mythology.
JC: It blew my mind entirely. We were waiting for that episode to be written because it was the resolve of the impossible girl. I picked up the script and it was the first seven pages. I put the pages down and I phoned my mom and I was like, ‘Oh, it’s awesome!’
MS: Did you? Aw, that’s nice.
JC: Yeah, and just filming it as well was so … we recreated the [William] Hartnell first ever going in [to the TARDIS] with a double and using the original footage…
MS: Just a great bit of TV, that sequence.
JC: Yeah, you can do so much on ‘Doctor Who’ that no other TV show can do. I love the fact that you can do that and go back in the history of the show — with the 50th it’s a celebration of the whole thing.
MS: It’s just so exciting to see all those other Doctors. To see them still be part of the story, some of them are dead! But they’re still living on. Isn’t that a testament to what the show is at 50 years? We’re all sat around talking about it, there’s 7,000 people in Hall H who have been queuing up.
JC: I did a scene with Hartnell!