‘Doctor Who’ – Peter Capaldi Interview on Saying Goodbye to the Doctor

Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi
Peter Capaldi stars in ‘Doctor Who’ (Photo by Simon Ridgway/BBC America)

Peter Capaldi was joined by his Doctor Who co-stars Pearl Mackie (‘Bill’), Matt Lucas (‘Nardole’), and Michelle Gomez (‘Missy’) for his final appearance at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con as the Doctor. In addition to the packed panel in the convention center’s Hall H, the Doctor Who cast participated in roundtable interviews in which they discussed Capaldi’s last outing as the Doctor.

During our roundtable interview, Capaldi was asked how emotional we can expect the upcoming Christmas episode to be for him and for Doctor Who fans. “I don’t know how it will be for the audience but it was very emotional for me, because often what happens – and maybe this happens with TV shows generally, I don’t know because I’ve never really done a series before where you’ve worked with the same crew and the same people every day for four years and you get very close to people. So, I find that what happens is in the script when the characters say goodbye, they often articulate that better than the human beings do. You often find when you do those scenes, the scenes become quite emotional because it’s like saying goodbye to Jenna (Coleman) or whatever, it’s because they are more articulate than we are. So, it was therefore emotional saying goodbye to Doctor Who but he said it in a better way than I can say it,” explained Capaldi.

Peter Capaldi Doctor Who Interview:

Director Rachel Talalay has been a big part of this era of Doctor Who. Can you talk about what it’s been like to work with her and what she’s meant to the Doctor Who legacy?

Peter Capaldi: “She’s an artist. I asked her to come and do my last one. I was so grateful that she did come and do it because I wanted it to be in the hands of somebody who was a visionary and who has a cinematic thing about her. It’s a tough world – the world of episodic television – because it’s very easy to just deliver the material which is just to do a wide shot, a couple close-ups, a couple medium shots. Some directors do that and that works, but it’s better to have someone who is an artist and has a visual understanding and a cinematic understanding, and comes up with a cinematic expression of the story.

She’s also a big Doctor Who fan. She’s also incredibly smart. And, for me, it means I’m with someone I can trust. I don’t have to ask Rachel why. I never asked Rachel why. She tells me to do something or asks me to do something and I’ll just do it because I know she’s brilliant. And she pushed Doctor Who, our Doctor Who, into a different league, I think, visually and aesthetically and intellectually.

Steven (Moffatt’s) incredibly clever and Rachel’s incredibly clever, and them working together was a great benefit to the show. I love her; she’s fabulous. She’s the real thing and that’s what I’m always looking for is the real thing…real artist, real director, real writer. She’s absolutely a bona fide, 24 carat filmmaker.”

Doctor Who is very much about change over the years. How do you think you’ve changed the character of the Doctor?

Peter Capaldi: “My version of the Doctor, I don’t think he’s changed very much. People says there’s a variation in the way that we go from the first season to the middle season to the last season. I think what happened was the writers became more comfortable with me. I always wanted to make a very clean break from what had gone before. I love Matt (Smith) and David (Tennant) and Chris Eccleston, but I think there had been a tendency for the Doctor to be quite user-friendly. I wanted him to be more distant, more difficult to be around because I thought he was an alien. I didn’t think he was a guy. I didn’t think he was just someone you would meet somewhere. Because when I grew up, Doctor Who wasn’t like that. He wasn’t a person you would meet in the street. He was a weird alien creature. So, I think it took them a while to do that and then figure out you could do that and also be funny and be affectionate and witty and clever and all that.

So, for me he’s the same but I get why people think he’s different. I love what we did in my first season. When I look at those now, he’s really tough. And without that, the rest of them wouldn’t have existed. We couldn’t just come in and be light and friendly and all that. We had to come in and be stranger.”

You’ve been a rocker for years. Whose idea was it to have the Doctor play the guitar?

Peter Capaldi: “I just thought it would be fun if he played. I thought he should be like a teenager. I just wanted him to have a big old Marshall amp with valves that he’d stuck all over it. I just thought it would be funny if the TARDIS was spinning through space and you heard like these power chords coming out. I thought he should just not be very good, but he’s much better than I actually am because someone else comes along and does all kind of shredding and stuff like that. Yeah, it’s fun! But, you know, I came up with that.”

Is there an episode you think defines your Doctor?

Peter Capaldi: “I think probably ‘Listen’ in the first season because it’s the first time where we clearly see this kind of obsessive quality about him. Because in that episode, he has a compulsion that there’s a creature that exists that you can’t see and he sets off to find it – even though you can’t see it and there’s no evidence for it. He’s absolutely committed to that idea. And also he looks a little more Gothic-y, a kind of slightly more Cabinet of Dr. Caligari than he is now. I liked all the candles in the TARDIS and all that stuff. I liked all that. And so for me, that was really one of the first points where you knew who this Doctor is. And he was quite brutal with people, but he was also kind and he was also funny and acidic. So, I think that was the first one where he really sort of first appeared.”

Are you looking forward to being a fan again? What are you hoping to see in the new Doctor?

Peter Capaldi: “Yeah! I think Jodie (Whittaker’s) great. I spoke to her last week. She’s very excited, obviously, about it all. I think she’ll be amazing. It was just great talking to her because she had so much energy and so much enthusiasm, so much passion for the show which was nice. And I think she’s a great actress. I’ll just be excited to see what happens. (Laughing) I enjoy watching Doctor Who and it’ll be fun just to be able to watch it without worrying, ‘Oh, I was terrible in that.’”