When Matt Smith regenerated into Peter Capaldi there was clear difference between the actors playing the Eleventh and Twelfth incarnations of The Doctor – their age! Since returning in 2005, Doctor Who had favored actors with a more youthful appearance to play the centuries-old Time Lord, with 27 year old Smith being the youngest actor ever cast in the role. And while Capaldi isn’t hundreds of years old, like his character, the 57 year old actor is the oldest man to play The Doctor since the series’ return.
Casting Capaldi in the role, with his grey hair and gruff demeanor, gave the impression that The Doctor was coming to terms with his advanced years and no longer interested in running around the universe sporting such a baby face. Though, as we saw throughout season eight, the Twelfth Doctor may at times act wiser or more serious but he can still be awfully childish, proving that age and appearance are no indication of maturity.
Both Smith and Capaldi made the pilgrimage to San Diego Comic Con this year, though only Capaldi was there to promote the next of season of Doctor Who. Smith was at Comic Con to promote a slew of projects – Terminator Genisys, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Patient Zero – but even with such a litany of work to discuss, Smith was of course asked about Doctor Who.
Specifically, Smith was asked during an interview with Collider for his opinion of Capaldi’s version of The Doctor, to which he responded:
“I think he’s completely reinvented it and I think he’s got such wit. I just think he’s a brilliant actor and a brilliant man, actually.”
As mentioned earlier, Capaldi was a drastic change from the young Smith, but even beyond a change in appearance, Capaldi has inhabited the role of The Doctor and imbued him with traits that are all his own. Where Smith was charming and goofy, Capaldi is fierce and aloof. The Twelfth Doctor does have a dry, sardonic wit, as Smith mentions, so it isn’t as if Capaldi’s Doctor is completely humorless. But these characteristics are how Capaldi can imprint his own DNA onto a character over half a century old and, in a way, reinvent the role to better suit himself.
Though Smith excelled at making his young-looking Doctor seem old and traveled, obviously Capaldi brings years of experience to the role that is simply impossible for a younger actor. Capaldi is also a well-known Whovian himself and has used that knowledge to his advantage, giving his incarnation of The Doctor a few traits borrowed from earlier versions; namely, William Hartnell’s First Doctor and Jon Pertwee’s Third Doctor, which is why the Twelfth Doctor is occasionally so rude and abrupt. Still, even with a slightly chilly demeanor, the Twelfth Doctor cares about Earth and the silly humans who live on it (even if he’d be loath to admit it).
Have you enjoyed Peter Capaldi’s incarnation of The Doctor? What about his version have you liked best? And what would you like to see him change next season? Let us hear from you in the comments below!
Doctor Who series 9 premieres September 19th, 2015 on BBC America.