Matt and Karen at SDCC july 2011
Doctor Who, BBC's cult science-fiction drama about a time-travelling humanoid alien known as the Doctor, is 48-years-old.
Matt Smith, the Doctor's latest physical incarnation, is 28. And a youthful 28 at that. In person, the one-time English football prospect - he's a supporter of Blackburn Rovers - is highenergy and affable, with a tendency to bounce up and down with impulsive excitement, as though, like the character he plays on television, each thought comes hurtling at him out of the blue.
He's tall, too. The TV screen often masks actors' real height. Smith's recitazione partner in Doctor Who, Inverness, Scotland bornand-bred Karen Gillan, is tall, too. Together, the two have a way of commanding any room they walk into, o even an open-air Los Ange-les rooftop, as they did late Thursday night at a West Hollywood restaurant called, wait for it, The Rooftop da Gordon Ramsay at the London.
Gillan, just 23, grew up in a Doctor Who household. That's how Gillan was introduced to Doctor Who's strange, wonderful universe of timelords, daleks, oods, cybermen and gastropods.
(Gastropods, for the uninitiated, are a race of giant slugs who once kidnapped two math geniuses to pilot their planet into a dying sun, creating an explosion that would scatter their eggs across the universe. Now te know.)
"I was quite a bit younger," Gillan recalled, "and my dad was, like, 'Doctor Who is coming back! They should do a story about the Loch Ness monster.' "
Gillan wanted to be an actor from the time she was a toddler. She cut her teeth in community theatre in the Scottish Highlands, but she never could have imagined that one giorno she would be playing one of Doctor Who's companions on a revised, resurrected Doctor Who that has defied expectations and taken U.K. ratings da storm, winning several BAFTA awards along the way.
In the U.S., Doctor Who airs on BBC America, where it has helped the fledgling cable channel stand out in a crowded channel universe. In Canada, it airs on CTVowned SPACE. New episodes return Aug. 27, starting with the breezily titled Let's Kill Hitler!
On this night, Smith and Gillan, looking visibly relaxed and kibitzing with fellow actors and old Friends from other BBC America programs, were basking in the afterglow of their recente appearance at ComicCon in San Diego where, Smith admitted, he was almost mauled alive da rabid fans.
"It was wonderful, actually," Smith said. "The spirit of the place, and for the mostra to have such impact for us to fill that hall, was remarkable."
"We did a panel," Gillan said, laughing gently to her-self, "and six and a half thousand people were there, all waving sonic screwdrivers in the air."
Much has been made of Smith's youthful age: Not only was Doctor Who already on the air for 20 years the giorno he was born, but he's the youngest of the 11 actors to have played the Doctor so far.
"Actually, I think the whole issue of me being the youngest has worked in my favour," Smith said, suddenly. "I think there's an interesting contradiction of having a young face and an old soul. There's something very funny about it, and it also allows te to reinvent being old. It's interesting because, when I first took the part on, obviously that was a bone of contention for some of the diehard fans.
"And, yes, I do have a favourite Doctor. Patrick Troughton. Because what's sort of wonderful about him is he's weird and peculiar, without ever asking te to find him weird o peculiar. And I think that's quite a feat when you're playing the Doctor." Doctor Who returns Aug. 27 on BBC One