David Yates, the director of the last four Harry Potter movies and the BBC have recently announced plans to bring our beloved Doctor to the big screen. The movie will be a reboot of Britain’s most famous sci-fi franchise and will have no connection to the current t.v. incarnation and as we’ve said the timing is very curious given that Doctor Who has never been so popular (especially internationally) and nobody was clamouring for a reboot.
While we are still somewhat adverse to the prospect of film producers getting their ugly teeth on such a great franchise and chucking away the great work of Matt Smith and David Tennant recently, you can bet we’ll still fork out a tenner to go and see it. Though the project is still two or three years away from production (Yates needs to find a writer first and presumably the film financial backing from the States) attention has inevitably turned to who will eventually be cast as the wacky, charming and somewhat crazy Time Lord, the 12th in the history of the series.
Of course one of the coolest aspects of Dr. Who is his ability to regenerate himself, a neat trick the Dr. Who producers came up with long ago to allow for any actor, despite their physical attributes, age and acting style to play the ancient alien time traveler.
The Doctor Who fans across the internet are shouting out for a Brit to play the iconic character but in a world where we have a Welsh Batman, an English Superman, an Australian Robin Hood and an American Sherlock Holmes… you just can never quite tell, can you?
Bearing that in mind all our picks for who should play Doctor Who are British, as it just felt right.
As we like to do around here with our fantasy casting series, the following are our eight picks for who should play Doctor Who in the new movie franchise;
Update: We have realised we have miscalculated and only have seven actors listed here. Our other choice will be added soon, we just left it off stupidly.
8. David Tennant (40)
For fans of the modern series, David Tennant is probably the guy you most associate with being the Doctor. He’s still the longest running Time Lord of the modern era with 48 episodes and 3 series’ under his belt. He took the role from the somewhat timid Christopher Ecclestone and transformed him into an icon of the 21st century. He quit just at the point where he was at the peak of his talents as the character.
Tennant has been adamant he won’t reprise his role in the future but he was so brilliant in the show it’s hard not to see him as the best candidate but then casting him for a big budget reboot would bring with it obvious complications, not least the fact that fans will be turning up expecting to see the t.v. version of Doctor Who when the film version is likely to go in a much different direction.
Casting Tennant as Doctor Who again would be the same as if Superman Returns had used Tom Welling. People would just see it as ‘Smallville: The Movie’ and it wouldn’t work at all in establishing a new continuity.
BBC dropped the ball by not giving Doctor Who a movie when David Tennant had the role. One of the last decade’s great missed opportunities and it’s a shame he will likely be ruled out for this movie by default.
7. Chiwetel Ejiofor (34)
The last time the Doctor Who role was up for grabs (albeit on the small screen), the always unpredictable Chiewetel Ejiofor was the man we were lobbying for the part and depending on who you speak to, he may have already turned down the role when Steve Moffat reportedly offered it to him. We are such huge fans of his that we are just waiting for Hollywood to see the potential in him (much like Hardy for all those years) and give him a meaty leading man role so he will no longer be seen as ‘just that guy’. Ejiofor has incredible range, is one of the most versatile actors of his generation and is already a geek favourite from his role in Joss Whedon’s Serenity.
He has the screen presence to make Doctor Who a legitimate film lead but of course the elephant in this discussion is that he is black and strangely for a character who has the ability to regenerate and be played by anyone, we’ve never yet seen a black Doctor Who. Perhaps with his film reboot, now is as good a chance as any to start.
6. Tom Hardy (34)
We actually nearly left out Hardy because quite frankly he always makes our fantasy casting lists. We kind of want him to play every role in every film! Seriously though, although he without doubt has the charm, the charisma, the eccentricity, the range, the talent, the experience of playing misfits and wacko’s to play Doctor Who… quite frankly we just think he is physically too big and intimidating. Doctor Who isn’t a character we believe should be favourite to win any physical confrontation, though we have to admit he was convincing in a much sleighter role in Tinker Tailor Solider Spy. One thing we are certain of though is that Hardy will be in the mix, especially as Yates wants to cast him as Al Capone in his epic biopic that like Who is ‘two or three years away” and because there’s a version of Doctor Who he could brilliantly.
At the end of the day though Hardy will likely be too busy to play Doctor Who. He already has franchise roles in Mad Max (he begins shooting Fury Road next year), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and potentially more turns as Bane in more Batman movies to come depending on the events of The Dark Knight Rises and what the future holds for the series at WB. Not to mention he has that Al Capone role potentially in the offing.
All incarnations of The Doctor have been quirky and easily excitable, tempered with wisdom and seriousness, so the big screen Doctor should carry over these traits. Pegg makes no secret of his nerdy and some what eccentric nature, and that would be perfect to channel through his take on The Doctor. He also has a love of Doctor Who, citing it as one of his favorite T.V. shows, and this love and respect would make sure he did the character justice.
5. Simon Pegg (41)
Simon Pegg has an immensely likeable screen presence and has undeniably brilliant comedy timing, something we think is vital when playing The Doctor. The material can sometimes be quite dark and ridiculous, and humor is a big part of helping the audience accept what’s happening, and also one of the reasons for it’s long lasting appeal.
Pegg’s usual screen persona might overshadow his better qualities for the role, but the man can act, especially as an authorative outsider (think Hot Fuzz) and is now so internationally well known, he could further help with breaking-in Dr. Who to the U.S. crowd.
Also if Simon Pegg was cast, The Doctor would finally get to be ginger (I suspect only Doctor Who fans will get what I’m talking about).
4. James McAvoy (32)
McAvoy is getting bigger and bigger in Hollywood these days and most recently he starred as the telepathic Professor X in Matthew Vaughn’s reboot X-Men: First Class. So one reboot down of an iconic character, how about him taking on another?
McAvoy will already be on David Yates’ radar. He worked with the British helmer on the BBC version of State of Play when he was still a relatively unknown and he’s certainly got the charm to pull of a character like the Doctor, particularly if this is billed as a family movie. He almost always plays very driven characters with eyes of determination and we can imagine him wearing the big coat, the scarf and the oddly dressed aspects of the character.
His emergence into Hollywood came with a small part as Mr. Tumnus in 2005’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and he also achieved critical acclaim in The Last King of Scotland earning him a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor in 2006. He’s also had experience in the action genre, starring alongside Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman in Wanted. This will give him a good background for a Doctor Who flick, which will most likely be action/adventure
We wouldn’t be surprised if McAvoy was there or thereabouts come crunch time.
3. Richard Armitage (40)
You may have seen him recently (however briefly) in the Captain America blockbuster as Nazi spy Heinz Kruger but you’ll certainly be seeing more of Richard Armitage next year in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey as Dwarven King Thorin Oakensheild. He is an actor who has climbed up the ranks of British tv, you probably know him best for his role as Lucas North in the BBC’s long running spy drama Spooks or as John Thorton in the BBC miniseries North and South or maybe as Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood.
He’s kind of the dark horse of our selection here but I think he would be an interesting choice, particularly if David Yates is considering a more adult take on the beloved franchise. There’s a trend in Hollywood at the moment to make things gritty and realistic, particularly with pre-established franchises, you only have to look as far as Christopher Nolan’s Batman films to know that. This probably wouldn’t go down well with a Doctor Who film because part of its success is in the balance between fun and suspense but we all know the big studios aren’t famous for their wise choices. Armitage may not have experience yet to lead a major film, but who knows what will happen after the Hobbit is released next year. Don’t count him out as an outside bet.
2. Benedict Cumberbatch (35)
Benedict Cumberbatch is on a steady rise in the A-list at the moment. In 2010 he was the titular character in the BBC’s three-part modernised Sherlock. Cumberbatch played the astute-genius-sleuth to critical acclaim and will appear once again in Series 2, slated for 2012. He followed that up with a supporting role in Tinker Tailor Solider Spy the well loved John le Carré adaptation and will portray the dragon Smaug through motion capture as well as providing the voice of the Necromancer in next year’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. In 2011 he was named British GQ’s “Actor of the Year.”
Cumberbatch has said that he actually discussed taking over the titular Doctor Who role from David Tennant in 2010, but claims he turned down the role because he didn’t want to be part of the ‘franchise package.’ Perhaps he would be more attracted to a stand-alone feature however, particularly if it breaks the American market. Some might say he doesn’t have enough experience for a blockbuster lead, but if 2010/11 was anything to go by I think we will be seeing much more of him in the years to come.
It’s unlikely that this project will be up and running for a while and it may be enough time for Cumberbatch to land himself some bigger roles in preparation for what would surely be his big international break. If it wasn’t for the fact he was Sherlock Holmes already (some say Dr Who is just a time travelling alien version of the Baker Street detective), he would be our number one pick.
1. Michael Sheen (42)
Welsh stage and screen actor Michael Sheen has a huge repertoire of feature credits and would be a good choice for the American market given his popularity internationally. He’s got that kind of scruffy, “I’m thinking of how to solve the problems of the universe’ mad scientist look, which is perfect for the 1100-year-old Time Lord. After a millennia on the move, he’s bound to have a few bags under his eyes.
Sheen was largely a stage actor in the nineties, but began moving onto the screen in the early 2000’s. He landed a mixture of American and British film roles, including Lucian in the successful franchise Underworld and a role as Tony Blair in The Queen. His breakthrough-leading role came as journalist David Frost in the 2008 masterpiece Frost/Nixon, followed a year later by his turn as Leeds manager Brian Clough in The Damned United. He’s also appeared in an episode of Doctor Who already, providing the voice of House in The Doctor’s Wife, written by friend Neil Gaiman.
Of everyone on this list, Sheen has the experience and calibre in Hollywood to play a leading man and would be a safe bet for the studios. He’s no stranger to the big dollar productions either, appearing Twilight: New Moon and reprising his role in the upcoming Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 and 2 and also appearing in the Underworld saga. Whilst all popular movies they also aren’t leading or iconic roles that would leave any baggage for him playing Who. Unfortunately, they aren’t likely to cast anyone over 40 for the time-travelling hero but Sheen is our number 1 pick.
The nearly men (those who didn’t quite make the cut)
Johnny Depp (48) – He certainly has a thing for playing wacko’s and eccentrics and he loves British sensibilities and often at times looks like he is doing a performance art imitation of Doctor Who whenever he is seen in public but he’s too old for the part and would be too distracting. It would be Johnny Depp as Johnny Depp as Doctor Who rather than Johnny Depp as Doctor Who (there is a difference… think Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of The Joker compared to Heath Ledger’s).
Robert Downey Jr (46) – Like Depp, he seems to be drawn to mad-cap roles. There’s definitely a Dr. Who movie that he would be good at but he already has the Sherlock Holmes role and with Marvel and potentially an upcoming stint as Perry Mason, he simply has too many franchises to try and juggle. Plus he’s not British, which should but probably won’t discount him.
Hugh Laurie (52) – Who would kill in the role but isn’t the man likely to be granted the mantle for a long term franchise gig. Despite some Doctor Who’s in the past being portrayed more like a Grandfather figure, we can’t see anyone under 40 getting this part.
Gary Oldman (53) – See above
Ewan McGregor (40) – British actor has never quite become the leading Hollywood man we expected but he is no stranger to stepping into big shoes having played Obi-Wan Kenobi for the Star Wars prequels and can can play kooky.
Paul Bettany (40) – Definitely has energy for it but he seems to enjoy playing vigilantes than conventional heroes. Though I guess Doctor Who isn’t conventional. He definitely has the classic look and the eyes for it… but would he sell enough tickets?
So there you have it folks, our latest Fantasy Casting entry and our eight choices for who should play Doctor Who in this new film reboot. We would love to hear your thoughts on our picks….
(article co-written by Matt Holmes)
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