Playing Doctor Who has to be a challenging role. Each person who plays the Time Lord has to figure out a different perspective and personality for the character while still filling the shoes of beloved actors, including Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant and more. In addition, the lengthy history of the character has to be kept in mind, as well. It would be hard to keep all of that stuff straight, and Peter Capaldi, who will appear as the Doctor for his second season this fall, recently said in an interview that he doesn’t feel that he has “nailed” the role, yet.
I don’t feel I’ve nailed it yet – from an acting point of view, I mean. I don’t yet feel that I know how to do this. Quite who the Doctor is remains mysterious to me – which is of course as it should be – but one of the biggest challenges that I’ve found, and am finding, is that you have to sort of be able to spin on a penny. You have to be able to go from pantomime to tragedy, from domestic to epic, within a single scene. You have to keep the ball in the air, and you have to remember that The X Factor is on the other channel. You have to remember that there are people watching in America, you have to remember that, as much as you want to apply your mature acting instincts, there are actually lots of children watching. You’ve got to cover all these bases, and make it exciting and interesting too.
A lot of times when people take on iconic characters, including Doctor Who, there’s an intense amount of pressure around the person’s performance from the fanbase, so none of this is particularly shocking—especially considering Who is popular worldwide but is still subjected to ratings pressures from the likes of The X Factor in the UK. In addition, we know Capaldi’s run has been a bit less successful than his predecessors, which probably makes the already-challenging gig even harder.
It is interesting, though, that Capaldi’s comments to The Telegraph include the fact that Capaldi still feels as if the Doctor is mysterious. He might still be figuring out the character and what makes the Time Lord tick, but with one full season under his belt, Capaldi definitely at least feels like the Doctor at this point. He said as much in an interview just a few months ago.
People say, ‘When did you first feel like Doctor Who?’ I think it was when they threw a rubber spider in my face and said, ‘Fight it!’
While fans have had mixed reactions to Capaldi since he first appeared on Doctor Who, the actor has made it through a first season and is preparing for his second, so he isn't going anywhere anytime soon. We’ll see if more fans warm up to the Time Lord when Doctor Who returns to the schedule on Saturday, September 19 at 9 p.m. ET on BBC America. Here’s what we know about the upcoming ninth season. In addition, you can see when your other fall favorites are returning with our fall TV premiere schedule.