First off I want to start by saying that this has been the most surreal experience in my life so far. Since becoming a contributor and then co-runner to the K, fantastic things have happened in my life. I’ve met great friends and done great things. But this… this takes the cake on many levels.
As a fan of Doctor Who, the idea of going to New York to see the premiere of a new episode on the big screen is appealing enough but followed by the inevitable sadness of not being able to get tickets when you are on vacation trying to buy them from your phone (I don’t have a laptop) is very distressing.
So imagine my delight when I was invited as a member of the press to not only attend the premiere but to also take part in a round table interviewing the stars behind the show. To say I was elated just wouldn’t quite capture how excited I truly was.
Arriving in New York, something I have done many times, seemed so very different this time. I had a place to be at a certain time and I was working. This trip wasn’t just fun, I had a job to do. A job that I can say I love to do. Writing about a show that has provided me with endless hours of entertainment on and off screen just seems natural and very rewarding. But this time, I wasn’t just writing about the show itself, I was meeting the stars and writing about that. That’s the surreal bit.
Upon arriving at the BBC America offices, things started to feel real. I gave my name to the security guard and he said “oh yes, right this way” - I was meant to be there! The offices themselves seem like an ideal working environment. They were hip, very stylized and they even had a snack bar/lounge area. The staff, everyone we met, were so nice and friendly and seemed like they were enjoying being there as much as we were. In fact they were talking about the events and the things going on behind the scenes with as much excitement as we were talking about being there!
Our BBC America rep Alexis is simply one of the friendliest and kindest people I have met. She was so fun to chat with and clearly enjoying her job one hundred percent.
While we waited for the stars to get in all of the press chatted among themselves and you could feel the Doctor Who love all around. I met a lot of great people there that day and for that I am once again grateful to Doctor Who and the K.
As the interviews began we were divided into three groups, of which I was in group one. We started with Karen Gillan who is every bit as stunning in person as she appears onscreen. Not just her beauty but her personality as well; she’s just a lovely woman. The best bit for me was the personal attention she and later Matt and Caroline gave us. If you asked a question they would look you straight in the eyes and answer you. It was like a one-on-one interview. That was really appreciated and really cements how great they really are.
As we chatted I let Karen know how appreciated she was – that we were all sad to see her go and she was genuinely touched by the sentiment. I also had the opportunity to tell her that so many people, myself and friends included, have been to Central Park recreating shots of her and Matt Smith in their Doctor Who outfits and she loved it. They both love seeing the cosplayers do their thing. So knowing that this is the effect that she has, I asked how she felt about that sort of inspiration she gives to her fans.
“It’s just really difficult to comprehend, but then you see people dressed up as you, but it’s just the weirdest sensation,” she said. “But it’s amazing because you feel really flattered an honored that they’ve gone to that sort of effort.”
During the interview Karen was asked if she could time travel to anywhere where would she like to go. She was very interested in the future and believed that we would one day become people with massive brains and frail bodies who never did anything for themselves as we’d have robots to do those things for us. This intrigued me and I realized it could work as a Doctor Who story, so I asked if she had an aspirations to be a writer or perhaps a director and if she would like to develop that into an idea for the show.
“I would love to, if I could write anywhere near as good as Steven Moffat then I would definitely write that!”
She had expressed that she felt she would always be an actress but that she did love writing, and confessed that her particular writings were “a bundle of notes in a pad” and felt that they lacked structure. But it’s clear she has the imagination to come up with some interesting ideas, so it would be nice to see a story one day penned by Karen in any medium or genre.
During the interview we had a chance to basically just chat with her, as opposed to interview her, and that made it feel like a social event with friends. Much of the time was spent sharing thoughts and laughs.
One of which was how her time spent on the show has changed her as an actress. Karen feels that it was a huge learning experience and cites Matt Smith as “the most inventive actor” that she has ever seen work. Their connection on screen and off is so apparent that it can’t be denied as anything less than real.
But what does the future hold for Karen since Amy Pond has left the TARDIS? Her aspirations are to do more film and stage work but she couldn’t have been more excited about a project she is doing here in the US in Alabama called Oculus, so keep eye out for that in future!
Ten minutes with each star somehow seemed like a lifetime, but in a brilliant way and at the same time, not nearly enough. But as all good things do, they must come to an end and Karen’s time with us came to a close and the show’s new Executive Producer Caroline Skinner entered the room.
Caroline was a self-confessed Doctor Who fan from the days of the classic series which tells us that she has the show’s best interests at heart in not just a professional way but also a personal way. She was very keen to note that everything is bigger and badder than what has come before it and seemed to show great enthusiasm for what we were about to see.
I was very curious to hear what a producer might do with an already established show to put their own stamp on it and Caroline’s answer was very interesting. Basically she was wanting to push the envelope in every way to make the stories more grand and make Steven’s visions come true. Rather than make something feel like “her way or the highway” she had the show’s and Steven’s as well as the fans’ best interests at heart.
Caroline spoke about the show and the stars in much the same way we feel about them and that was a major plus for her in my book.
As the interview was coming to an end Matt Smith entered the room; the Doctor, here, now.
Matt is such a personality. Joking, fun and always with a big smile. But when you pin him down with an interesting question and watch his demeanor change you can see how much thought he’s put into the character and the show. We spoke of his love of the show, the actors, the writers and his love of New York City “first and foremost I want to shoot every episode of Doctor Who in New York. I love this city, I love filming here. Everywhere you point a camera there is something brilliant to look at.”
He spoke of using his imagination for many things in the show and it made me curious about how far-reaching that could be. We know he’d written a private story of his Doctor meeting Einstein but is Matt interested in writing or possibly directing, as Karen seemed to be? As Karen before him he felt his writing wasn’t up to Doctor Who standards but I have to be honest and say with the imaginations in those two I wouldn’t be so sure. However when it comes to directing a Doctor Who episode “I would love to direct one but I mean I’ve got a long journey to go. In my thirties I’m going to push and explore the idea of directing because…” His demeanor changed again to a jovial sort of mood as he mockingly joked, “…Frankly that’s where the creative power is. I’m fed up with being a puppet!”. And again he moved back into a serious mode: “It is absolutely something that I would like to do because I am interested in visual drama and connecting images and making a story thereafter”.
When asked the usual question if there is an actress that he could see in the role of the Doctor he gave a great answer. One that showed that there could be strengths to a woman being in the role because it changes the fundamentals of the character, but he had confessed that he didn’t feel we were likely to see that any time soon to which I replied “Because you’re not leaving us” which seemed to get a nice round of laughter from my fellow interviewers as we all felt the same! Matt did as well and told us “No! And I’m not turning into a woman” which trumped my comment in the laughter department! Darn you Smith for one-upping me!
Seriously though, Matt Smith is the kind of guy you want as a friend. So full of life and clearly enjoying everything and everyone around him. Such a fit actor for the role of the Doctor if ever there was one.
For my finale question I was curious if Matt was really like us ordinary folk and how he felt about the fans affection and devotion to the show and see if he himself has ever felt such a devotion to something. “Football”. I really should have guessed that.
“It’s humbling to be a part of this show because the fans – who are the show and have been and will be long after my time – are a remarkable bunch of fans. They really are and I don’t think I’ll ever be involved in anything where they’re quite as passionate and supportive. And, you know, kind of kookie.”
And with that our time for interviews came to an end and we made our way to the premier of Asylum of the Daleks at the Ziegfeld Theatre. As we walked up the street to the event we saw a massive line leading as far as the eye could see. And yet people were already let in! The theater was HUGE. Thankfully, due to the kindness of BBC America we had the benefit of skipping the line and entered via the VIP entrance. I felt like a star myself as we got special privileges and reserved seating. The Theater was gorgeous. Like something out of a 1940’s film, it made you feel all movie theaters should be so cool. The screen was gigantic and the venue held probably the whole population of New York. You just can’t imagine how big and cool this place was.
While we waited for Matt and Karen to arrive at the theater in their DeLoreans – Yeah you read that right, they arrive in DeLOREANS! – a peculiar thing happened on the way into the theater. Remember how I said I felt like a celebrity? Well, I don’t know how many of our dear readers know this but for fun I attend conventions with other cosplayers where I dress and act like the Tenth Doctor, David Tennant. It seems that there were people at the theater who believed that I was doing so at the event that day. I wasn’t, I was just being me, but I still posed for pictures with others in costume and loving every minute of it. Then it got even more strange and fantastic when people started recognizing me from my cosplaying pictures online. They knew I was not in my outfit but wanted to say hi and get photos and talk. This day really just kept getting better and better.
I met new friends, old friends and online friend in real life. Everyone one of them were simply amazing and a lot of fun. So thank you all who stopped me to speak with me or get a photo, you made my day!
But that’s not why we were there was it? No we were there to see a show, the best show, Doctor Who! The Nerdist’s Chris Hardwick acted as the MC for the event and he along with Matt, Karen and Caroline gave us a nice intro to the episode as well as a plea to not give out any spoilers so to all of you wanting to know, sorry, no chance.
Asylum of the Daleks was tailor-made for the big screen. Doctor Who should be in movies. Not to leave our TV screens, but it has a natural home on the big screen for sure. The story was certainly, for this reviewer, of the highest quality and made you go through all the emotions. Steven Moffat has outdone himself and certainly showed us again how scary Daleks can be. From the acting to the directing to the music and writing, this story had it all and used it to its fullest potential. Just wait till you see it on September 1st! Just you wait!
After the screening there was a nice question-and-answer session with the stars, and then things unfortunately came to an end. Matt and Karen left the building, and and the fans gathered around each other to share in their excitement one last time before heading to their next destinations. I myself shared a nice dinner with friends before heading home, and all the way was stuck in a state of disbelief that Doctor Who, a show I’ve adored since I was a child, could bring me to such a magical place and continue to make me feel like a kid again. I’ve made memories that will last forever, and friends who can never be thanked enough for being a part of it all.