“Doctor Who” star Matt Smith didn’t really think that the long-running sci fi show would be so popular across the pond. Obviously he didn’t know us Yanks very well … yet.
The 27-year-old Brit was dashing from coast to coast to promote the show’s new season when he took the time to share his thoughts about the U.S. fans and the non-science fiction elements of the show.
“I was just in New York. Me and Karen [Gillan] and Steve [Moffat], we were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm,” Smith told Zap2it. “I thought there was not a ‘Doctor Who’ community in the U.S., but it’s got legs here. It’s truly been an exceptional response that not any of us can fathom.”
Smith, who was a relative unknown when he nabbed the part of the 11th Doctor, confessed that he worried fans might find his version of the popular Time Lord “rubbish.”
“Of course,” he said with a laugh. “If you have Hamlet, Macbeth, anything that’s artistic, as artists we worry. All art is risk. So yeah, I had my fears.”
Now that Smith’s debut as the full-time Doctor has aired in America, he can rest easy since the fans are still as fervent as ever.
In the premiere, which aired on BBC America on Saturday (April 17), the newly regenerated Doctor encounters young Amelia Pond (Caitlin Blackwood), who helps him adjust to his new body by feeding him. The only problem: What does the new Doctor’s incarnation like to eat?
What follows is a hilarious sequence in which Amelia prepares various dishes that the Doctor digs into with gusto … and then summarily chucks, spits out or deems “evil.” He finally settles on an unusual combination: Fried fish sticks dipped in a pudding/custard sauce. Oddly enough, there were no trick props or substitutions behind the scenes. Odder still, Smith didn’t mind.
“It was actually fish fingers and custard [that I ate] and it was gorgeous,” enthused Smith. “I ate 12 fish fingers while filming that scene.”
Although his palate enjoyed that unusual combination, Smith does find one food rather “evil.”
“Mint sauce,” he said firmly before elaborating. “I just don’t understand it. It invades your lamb plate for no good reason.”
We blame the Silurians, who we hear will emerge from hibernation this season.
Amidst all the madcap humor in the premiere, the Doctor gets down to business, conceives an impossible scheme and saves the day. As a reward, he treats himself to a wardrobe update, solidifying what will become the 11th Doctor’s “uniform” — a tweed jacket and jaunty bow tie.
Considering the various Doctors’ looks that came before him — ranging from Doctor No. 4 Tom Baker‘s Hogwartsian striped scarves to Doctor No. 10 David Tennant‘s dramatic floor-length dusters — Smith could very well have been saddled with an outfit he couldn’t stand for his “Doctor Who” tenure. A tweed jacket and bow tie don’t seem that bad.
“Love both of them,” Smith said. “I embraced both items fully and there are many variations of each in the wardrobe department.”
It’s these lighter elements — humor, fashion, heart — that balance the action, technology and heavier themes to make “Doctor Who” the long-lived, worldwide success it is today. Already, the fan response to the new season bodes well for “Who’s” continued longevity.
“It inspires humility to see how they’ve embraced that first episode,” he added. “I think that there are better episodes coming actually, which is exciting.”
No doubt that excitement comes from battling dastardly aliens or outwitting power-hungry humans, but Smith revealed that he was also psyched about something more mundane: Soccer. Before pursuing acting, he had been on his way to becoming a professional footballer in England when a back injury derailed those plans.
“One my favorite days of filming was a day of playing football with James Corden for Episode 11,” he revealed.
Soccer and Salurians? We’ll take it.
“Doctor Who” airs on BBC America on Saturdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Photo credits: BBC America