Back in late 2008, we were led to believe that actor Paterson Joseph had been cast as the Eleventh Doctor. So strong was our source that we even had an announcement pre-written. It came as a considerable surprise to find strong betting and an eventual announcement of Matt Smith on January 4th 2009.
In a recent exchange on his blog, writer Neil Gaiman (whose work beyond The Doctor’s Wife and Nightmare in Silver is well-regarded) revealed that he knew of a black actor who had turned down the chance to star in Doctor Who.
Was it Paterson Joseph, or perhaps Chiwetel Ejiofor?
Said Gaiman, when asked if he thought there would ever be a non-white Doctor:
Of course. (I thought I’d said that I was disappointed that it didn’t happen this time, and that there are some amazing actors out there. I was rather disappointed that Paterson Joseph didn’t get it last time, although I’ve loved Matt’s Eleven.) And yes, I have no doubt there will be. (I know one black actor who was already offered the part of the Doctor, and who turned it down.)
So who turned it down?
Back in 2009, Joseph and Ejiofor were both considered the most likely black actors, with Colin Salmon a little behind. Back in 2010 Joseph told the Coventry Telegraph that he would have accepted if offered.
Oh God yeah! I would have hesitated, but I think I would have done it – I think I would have had to have done it. What’s the worst that could happen? The worst that can happen of course is that you get typecast, but then you can’t be as the Doctor because [the show] is so old.
Back in June this year, Chiwetel Ejiofor was rumoured to have been high on the list of Twelfth Doctor actors, but as we now know, nothing came of this. Back in 2011, the actor admitted he would like the role if offered.
So was it the American Gangster actor who rejected the role?
We’ll probably find out in a few years time, but let’s not get too concerned – we’ve got a great new Doctor in Peter Capaldi!