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The Doctor Who World Tour Stopped in NYC and We Spoke With Peter Capaldi, Jenna Coleman, & Steven Moffat


Yesterday, The Mary Sue attended a BBC America press event as part of Doctor Who: The World tour. Showrunner Steven Moffat, as well as actors Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman, took some time out of their busy schedule to chat with reporters in a press conference-style chat, and we’ve got a few non-spoilery things to share with you.

The stars are visiting seven cities across five continents in 12 days in celebration of Season 8 and flew into New York City from Sydney, Australia just the night before. We were treated to a screening of the premiere episode (more on that later) and got to talk with the most-likely exhausted trio. You can see pictures from the tour on the Doctor Who tumblr but when reporters spoke to them, the actors hadn’t had much NYC experience yet.

“Steven has, but the American screenings which we’re both gonna sit in and watch tonight. But we haven’t yet done that yet. So we hear it’s very vocal,” said Coleman. Speaking of America, one journalist wanted to know if we’d be seeing more of the United States in Season 8 to which Moffat replied we would not. “Unless I’m lying. Could be lying,” he said. Oh that Moffat!

Then we turned to the OMG NEW DOCTOR WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAAAAAAAN portion of the Q&A. First, Coleman’s take on learning the ropes of her new acting partner/Doctor:

Literally my face in the regeneration scene is literally me watching Peter throw about 1000 options at the wall, and try and explore everything. And my face is literally I think for about 30 minutes of watching Peter do this entire routine. And thinking, this is great, because change is amazing. And actually having to start again and reevaluate and figure out how – I mean, it’s kind of what the story is as well. It’s the two things happening together, of working out how this dynamic is now gonna work and expecting a reply from maybe what the 11th Doctor would say and suddenly this new doctor does not respond in the same way, and I suppose that’s what’s jarring, is then realizing, how – okay, what are the rules now? And how does this dynamic work? So that was as an actor, that was a great, great thing. And I think that was happening at the same time as we were telling that story.

And Capaldi’s side of things:

But you sort of see I think as the show unfolds, Jenna and I getting to know each other because we didn’t know each other when we started. So as the doctor and Clara get – because the doctor really, although he’s the same character, he’s also brand new. He’s also unfamiliar with his own personality, I think, so he’s discovering things about his own personality that are not necessarily welcome. But he has a very, very deep bond with Clara. And he finds it difficult to express that. But it’s there. And also she’s one of the few people who I think can actually push him around.

But from Moffat’s perspective, it’s pretty much business as usual:

There are monsters in corridors, I promise. And explosions. But yeah, I mean, the Doctor’s quite a complicated character, actually. For the – for a melodramatic hero, he is quite complicated. And I think you’re wasting an opportunity with every generation if you don’t do a bit of that, because we know that he doesn’t just change his face. He changes – things about him aren’t the same. Things he reaches for aren’t there. Things are – he has feelings he didn’t have before. I think that must be awfully alarming. It must make you wonder who you are. And I think there’s an element that runs throughout Doctor Who, and which was why Doctor Who is so much better than everything else in the world, is that the Doctor doesn’t know he’s a hero. He doesn’t really. He doesn’t really know he’s in that shell. He knows that some other people think he is and he knows that sometimes he seems like a legendary warrior, but he knows and we know because we’re watching him, he’s just a man who can’t drive a time machine properly. So he’s got – just having that, the difference between how people see him and how he is, is always exciting.

Considering the new Doctor is about to show himself to the world, the topic was broached as to whether or not we’d be seeing echoes of past actors in Capaldi’s performance.

I think it’s always exciting when Doctor Who touches its past. I mean, for me, as a kid, that was always an exhilarating moment when they made contact with the past. But I – for me personally, I don’t consciously try to emulate any of the previous doctors but I would say that I’ve been watching the show since I was 5. I absolutely grew up with it. So all of those Doctors probably made me, even if I hadn’t been cast as the Doctor, my acting would probably have been influenced by William Hartnell or Patrick Troughton, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker, and all of the other guys. Because those were the actors that I really watched every moment of as opposed to Laurence Olivier – these were the guys I was watching and who I wanted to be. So they probably, I think, my own tics as an actor have probably been influenced by them already. So I have no need to specifically pull them out of the bag, although occasionally sometimes in the show, in the season, there are some little specific things that are very directly references to previous Doctors. But I love when the show does that.

But Capaldi also made sure to note that as an actor, you can’t constantly be making references to other people—you just have to do your best. But how did Coleman see it from where she was standing?

I feel like Peter came in with such a strength and idea and was really brave. I always remember some days, you know, we have those certain directional days of – because normally when you read the script at this point, the doctor would embrace this scene or dance or be running around the console or and actually – there was times when I think, especially in the early days when Peter was finding his Doctor, would say “Actually, no, I’m just gonna stand here.” It’s that thing where instead of going to the room, the room coming to him. And I feel like he was really bold and brave and made those changes, and that was because that was Peter fine doing it his way. And fine doing – you know – his path.

Those familiar with the long-running series also know Capaldi’s face. The actor has played Caecilius in “The Fires of Pompeii” (as well as John Frobisher on Torchwood). One journalist in the room wondered if this is going to be directly referenced in Season 8.

“Whatever we do with that, you know, which I’m not gonna tell you, is it’s subtle,” answered Moffat. “We’re not doing a great big number on it because frankly the reason the Doctor looks like another character in Doctor Who is because he’s played by the same actor and everybody knows that. If you go down that path I’ll be explaining why John Watson looks like Bilbo [laughter].”

Look for more on the event, including Capaldi’s monster fascination and Moffat’s thoughts on online fandom, in the next few days!

Previously in Doctor Who

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Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” ( She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."