Jodie Whittaker Didn't Want To Be Famous, Was Scared To Take Role On Doctor Who

Jodie Whittaker Doctor Who BBC America

Jodie Whittaker is officially two seasons into her stint as The Doctor, and while there were initially objections to her casting from some fans, negative talk surrounding her as the first female to lead Doctor Who has more or less subsided. Whittaker has looked comfortable in the role since her very first scene, though the actress recently admitted she was scared to take on the iconic character and feared the level of fame that came with it.

Jodie Whittaker said she hounded showrunner Chris Chibnall about auditioning for the role the minute she heard the news about casting, but when auditions started and the role got real, she began to feel differently. As she explained below, Whittaker felt the gravity of what Doctor Who meant to a lot of people, and how playing The Doctor would change her life forever.

Do you know why it was? It's really interesting. The second we had the conversation about auditioning, there was a head and a stomach reaction. The stomach and the head and a heart. The heart went [in] like that, and the head went like, ‘Oh, I don't want to be famous.’ That is always a problem if you're an actor, if you don't want to be famous. It's quite complicated because this is a job that essentially puts you sometimes in a public place. I know from my friends who've been in this, that is a very public place.

Playing The Doctor follows actors for a lifetime. It's apparent any time Matt Smith pops up in a movie trailer, or when David Tennant tells the story of being approached in a bathroom. Even Karen Gillan still gets Doctor Who questions after all she's done in Hollywood, so Jodie Whittaker had to accept that it's a title that'd follow her for her career and beyond. That's a lot of pressure, especially when considering the added bit of her being the first woman to play the lead.

There's no precedent of The Doctor being played by the woman, so Jodie Whittaker also had to figure out how that looked. The Doctor Who actress told Salon she had thoughts on how to play The Doctor, but also listened to the guidance of Chris Chibnall. Even with Chibnall's notes, Whittaker said the role has so much to it that performing scenes can be daunting.

For me, the fear in Season 1 was, am I doing it right? Am I showing as much as I can? Actually knowing that when you have 10, 11 episodes, that you don't cram it all in at once. It's not a 90-minute film. We have the space to play. The fact that the moments of surprise, it was surprising to me the actor as they are to the Doctor. So use that. Don't be fearful of the unknown. When you're approaching a role that is steeped in so much history, it can be quite overwhelming and terrifying because you want to make sure you do it right, but then the joy of this role is anything is possible.

In Season 11 and through the first few episodes of Season 12, audiences haven't seen The Doctor acknowledge her gender. In fact, the character recently forgot she was a woman entirely, and only stopped to think about it after being corrected after referring to herself as a man during a grandiose speech. Jodie Whittaker teased that while some fans may have felt they missed parts of The Doctor's identity in Season 11, they may surface in Season 12. Could this mean The Doctor will be getting more in touch with her feminine side in Season 12?

Related: The Wild Doctor Who Reference That Appeared In The New Dracula TV Show

Doctor Who airs Season 12 on BBC America Sundays at 8:00 p.m. ET. Continue to stick with CinemaBlend for more on the acclaimed British drama, and for a look at other things happening in television and movies.

Mick Joest
Content Producer

I like good television but also reality television. His day largely consists of balancing his workload between reporting on the latest and greatest news in Star Trek and other sci-fi, as well as 90 Day Fiancé, WWE, Big Brother, and more.