TMS at Comic-Con: Doctor Who‘s Peter Capaldi Talks Monsters, Maisie Williams, and His Future with the Series
"I think that's why guys like me get cast. Because there's something about us that suggests we could be idiots. "
As part of The Mary Sue’s San Diego Comic Con coverage, former editor Sam Maggs spoke to Doctor Who‘s Peter Capaldi earlier today about Clara and The Doctor’s relationship, Maisie Williams’ hijinks, and the scary upcoming season.
Capaldi: I think it remains complicated. I think initially Clara probably felt, well, you know, this is my best friend but now he’s become this guy who has very poor social skills and who’s rather impatient and just wants to get on with traveling around the universe, do I really want to be around him anymore? Is it worth it, to be around him? And I think she’s decided that it is worth being around him. I think the Doctor is deeply, deeply bonded with Clara, one of the things about the character of the Doctor is that he sees things and understands things that are beyond the perception of human beings, he’s not a human being. So he knows things about Clara’s future that she doesn’t know, so I think that’s informed his decision to stay with her. But she tries to improve his social skills and make him more palatable to those human beings that he’s impatient with. And I think they have a great relationship, it’s a fairly unusual relationship for television. It’s romantic in the old sense, they’re two people who are really crazy about each other but they’re not romantically involved.
Sam Maggs [on behalf of The Mary Sue]: Jenna [Coleman] was saying that you’re both feeling a little more reckless this season, like you said, running towards danger instead of away from it. With her, she lost Danny, and that might be motivating her, but what do you think is motivating the Doctor to throw caution to the wind this season?
Capaldi: Because, you know, the universe is very dark. And inevitably that is where he will wind up, inevitably the darkness he will have to fight. He will have to face terrible things. So, rather than going “oh no, I have to face something terrible…” I always think he’s a very joyful character, I think he can find the joy in just sitting in a carpark watching the sun coming up, feeling the wind. These are amazing, these kinds of beautiful things to him, and he’s impatient when people don’t get that.
Reporter: You have such a great knack for banter, have you thought at all about writing for the show?
Capaldi: No, I think the show is so…I’m so full of awe and admiration for Steven [Moffat] and for the writers that work on the show and what they do is extraordinary because they’ve got to deliver. The constitency of the show is so long, you have to be able to deliver episodes that are interesting to students, to little kids, to hipsters, to middle aged people, to cover all those bases you have to really be a skilled writer, and I don’t have that skill. And the same with directors, someone will say ”do you want to direct” and I’ll go no, really, because I see what those people have to go through!
Reporter: When you say “do you want to direct,” do you mean people like us asking, or have people on the show asked you to direct?
Capaldi: It’s sometimes suggested, but I don’t really see how I could have the time to do that. And to be on the show.
Reporter: Is there any thought of going for the record, going for Tom Baker’s record?
Capaldi: It’s not up to me. I’m very thrilled to be there, every day I find it an extraordinarily privileged position to be in, to get up in the morning and go into work on the TARDIS or chase men in rubber suits down corridors and be part of all this, so I’m just happy to be there as long as people want me to be.
Sam Maggs: Some of my favorite episodes of Doctor Who are the scarier episodes, I really love that. I know episodes 3 and 4 this season are supposed to be a little darker, can you talk a little bit about the Doctor’s journey in those episodes?
Capaldi: I think generally there are scarier monsters. I was thinking about it, we have quite a lot of vintage monsters who have been reformed and have a new vigor about them. But it’s interesting, I was thinking of the new monsters we have, they have a kind of, more…they’re like creatures from the Id. They’re much more creatures from the subconcsious, and are frightening that way. And there are things that play with the Doctor in particular, his understanding of the world and the way he sees it is played with. He’s pushed onto the other side of his understanding of what monsters are. But later, as the season unfolds, there are stranger creatures.
Reporter: You’ve talked a little bit about the darkness of the show and the character being so joyful. For you, how do you find that balance, and do you feel like it verges one way or another over the course of the season?
Capaldi: I think that’s the challenge of playing Doctor Who, is to bounce one moment from something very tragic, to something almost pantomimic. You know, it’s rather old fashioned in that way. You can be doing a gag, and suddenly expounding on some cosmic profundity, so I think that’s part of his DNA. I think that’s why guys like me get cast, because there’s something about us that suggests we could be idiots. And also rather profound. But it is a constant balancing act, you have to sort of keep these things in the air, that is the trick of it.
Reporter: Last season there was that famous anecdote of you coming in on your day off to see Daleks getting blown up. Are you still doing that sort of thing?
Capaldi: Well, what did I see this year, I wasn’t there to see it but I came in, Maisoe Williams was in it, Jenna was in it, and it was a spaceship and Jenna had a spacesuit on, and she turned around, and the spaceship, it was full of Vikings. With all the horns and stuff. I thought, this is not work!
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