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Not a Misprint

Matt Smith Almost Played Watson To Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock

Since Matt Smith and Benedict Cumberbatch both made their respective splashes in the UK and the world beyond, fans have felt the two actors needed to work together. (Something about chins and cheekbones or something.) They were at least in the same room together a few times, which had fandom reeling, but did you know Smith almost played the role of John Watson in BBC’s Sherlock? Read on to find out why it didn’t happen. 

Smith and Doctor Who co-star Karen Gillan recently did an interview with The Daily Mail in which they discussed their casting stories from the sci-fi show. I’ve heard versions of both before but Smith included a juicy new tidbit.

I nearly became Sherlock Holmes’s sidekick instead. Before Doctor Who was even discussed I went to see Steven Moffat, the co-creator of the BBC’s Sherlock, to test for the role of Doctor John Watson. Steven saw me more as a Sherlock Holmes than a Watson, but the main part had already gone to Benedict Cumberbatch. However, Steven saw something in me that made him think I could be right for the role of The Doctor.

There’s a plethora of reaction gifs I could utilize here. I’m gonna go with this one.

Smith also talked to the Radio Times about the close call. ”I thought my audition for Watson was very good,” says Smith. “But clearly not good enough! Basically they looked at it and went, ‘He’s not Watson. It’d be like having two Sherlocks in the room.’”

Obviously viewers have become quite smitten with the pairing of Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Martin Freeman as Watson but could you even imagine if Smith had landed that role? I don’t think it was the right pairing for them so I’m glad they decided to go in a different direction but I still want Cumberbatch to act next to Smith. Preferably as the Master.

(via Blastr)

Previously in Doctor Who

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  • Raina DaCosta


  • Jim

    If Smith had gotten the Watson role, does that mean we’d have seen Freeman’s “Doctor.” I’d have liked to see Freeman’s “Doctor.” (That sounds dirtier when it’s not inside my head.)

  • Not Prince Charles

    I definitely prefer Martin Freeman over Matt Smith for the role of Watson. I prefer it when Watson is older than Holmes. In canon Watson is slightly older than Holmes by a couple years.

  • ✰ Ємρʏяɛαℓ Ɖяɛαмɛя (´・ω・`)

    I love Cumberbatch and Freeman – I can’t imagine anyone else in their roles. :)

  • Being Geek Chic

    I’m so glad there are others who feel that Martin is the perfect Watson. Love him.

  • diane

    That would have been WAY too much cheek bone on one show…

  • Brian

    Yeah, Freeman’s age is a plus, and I think he sells the military aspect better than Smith would have, though of course we can’t know without seeing it.

  • anon

    yeah the freeman/cumberbatch pairing is perfect, matt wouldnt have been right.

    meanwhile…cumberbatch as the master? oh BOY he would be EXCELLENT.