Ncuti Gatwa on Playing the 15th Doctor

Ncuti Gatwa tells Consequence that after being cast as The Doctor of Doctor Who, he had no conversations with the Who team around how, exactly, he should approach his take on the iconic character. “[Showrunner Russell T. Davies] and the team, I guess, saw my audition and they were like, ‘Do that,’” he laughs via Zoom. “They were just like, ‘That’s what we want.’”

Playing The Doctor, though, is no small thing, as the millennia-old alien with two hearts and a time machine shaped like a Police Public Call Box is an institution in the UK, having been played by practically countless actors during the series’ 60-year history. Gatwa, an alumnus of Netflix’s Sex Education who also will be featured in the upcoming Masters of the Air, is officially the 15th Doctor, with his first stand-alone adventure, “The Church on Ruby Road,” debuting Christmas Day.

Every actor who plays The Doctor has had a unique spin on the role. So when Gatwa was preparing to take over the TARDIS, he says, “I looked to all the previous Doctors and I was like, who is The Doctor? What is the overriding thing? What’s the through line that they all have?”

His answer, ultimately: “It’s everything. They’re everything. They’re full of everything. The kaleidoscope of human emotion and more. There’s so much within them, and each of my predecessors have encapsulated that. So I was like, ‘I’ve just gotta try and encapsulate the feeling of everything, and offer that.’ And hopefully it will be my own take because I’m my own person. I’ve just got to try and do what they’re doing, but me.”

The process wasn’t an immediate one, but gradual, even as filming progressed. With filming on the first full season of the series (set to premiere Spring 2024 on Disney+) now complete, Gatwa is currently filming Season 2, and he says that “I now feel like The Doctor’s sunk from being in my chest to my gut. Season 1, I put the suit on, but it wasn’t perfectly tailored to my body. I was still kind of feeling it out a little bit, finding my feet, questioning: ‘Is this right for me? Is this not right?’ But now, I feel good. I’m having fun, and I feel like he’s fully entered my body now — which feels cool. It’s a nice progression.”

In “The Church on Ruby Road,” we see The Doctor experiment with a variety of sartorial choices, including a long leather duster and a stylish kilt. (Not at the same time.) If Gatwa had to pick his look from the Doctors that have come before, though, there’s no question: Jon Pertwee, the Third Doctor.

“Jon Pertwee, I’m obsessed with. Oh my gosh, all his rings!” he exclaims. “I feel such a connection to that Doctor. I swear I saw a photo shoot of [Pertwee] topless and he had chains on, and I was like, that man represents me. I feel seen by him. All his beautiful jackets and the frilly shirts — he was such a dandy. He’s like The Doctor that Oscar Wilde created, and I loved that. I thank God for Jon Pertwee.”

Author: Michael

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