It’s Peter Capaldi’s farewell tour and lucky for the East Coast fans, he paid a visit to NYCC. We were greeted with our host, a writer for EW, who talked about how emotional this Doctor has made him. He used to say that Tom Baker was his favorite Doctor but now it’s Peter Capaldi. He took on the role of the Doctor with tenacity and fans have attached to his fire with utmost devotion.
We had a video montage, highlighting Capaldi’s run as the 12th Doctor on his adventures with Clara and Bill. Then, the man himself entered, wearing his trademark sunglasses, to thunderous applause. He sat with the host and got into how fast time has flown by while playing the Doctor. On one hand, it’s been a long few years and on the other hand, time has flown by. But overall, he says “You don’t have a second that’s not about Doctor Who”.
From there, it was almost like a “Best Of” rundown, going through his time as the Doctor, starting off with his very first day on set. And Capaldi chimed in saying he actually had two first days on set. For the regeneration, he was on set with Matt Smith, who was welcoming and very kind. But then there was 4 months of nothing! He had to wait until he was able to play The Doctor. But when he did, the very first scene he filmed was coming out of the Tardis in “Deep Breath”. He was with Jenna Coleman and a smoke machine, which made the audience laugh.
Speaking of Jenna, she was also very welcoming to Capaldi and was the first one to actually show him around – where his trailer would be, where the canteen was, and more. She was sweet and fun. He also had fun with Pearl Mackie, who had to come to terms with the massive scale of the show. She hadn’t done much TV before and it’s intense. Capaldi went on to talk about how they film 10 months out of the year, saying that he felt like he was “in a television factory”. But that they “produce magic” and you can tell it’s true, given the fact that fans were begging him to stay throughout the panel.
As for how he approached the role of the Doctor, he said he just did he best to tell the stories that they wanted to tell. He would let the script guide his approach. But he never felt like he got a “handle” on the role. In fact, he still doesn’t feel like he had. But in “Listen”, he felt like he had gotten the most grip on the character. I don’t feel like any actor has a true grip on The Doctor as a full character but that they have a grip on who their version of the Doctor is. It makes all the performances varied and fun.
One of the most sentimental parts of the panel was him talking about the Christmas Special. For him, the First Doctor is his Doctor. And having David Bradley on set with him was incredible. He says that Bradley isn’t doing just an impression, he was somehow able to completely embody William Hartnell’s version of The Doctor. And since Capaldi was such a fan, he took a picture with Bradley and later wrote him “Thanks for letting a young man meet Doctor Who”. It was really sweet and the awwww’s around us nailed that fact in.
And while talking about the Christmas Special, we had to talk about him leaving the role. The cries for him to stay were the loudest here. But he explained that there wasn’t really a specific time that he felt it was time to leave, but rather, he felt that he was getting too comfortable. As an artist, he wants to be challenged creatively. And once he gets the hang of it, it’s no longer fun. So for his last day on set it was “iconic”. Everyone who was special to him on the show was on the set and working together, so he was able to say goodbye all at once. But he’s not quite done! He has to film a bit of ADR and touch up some changing plot points so he hasn’t quite hung up the coat yet.
So how did he find out that Jodie Whittaker is taking the sonic screwdriver? Well, he had a hunch. He explained that he shops at Paul Smith, a tailoring company. And he had gone in to buy some clothes when they told him they got a call to order more of his pants, but in a small waist size. And he had thought he didn’t need anymore pants. And they couldn’t be a man’s waist size, eliciting laughter from the audience. But he was called a few days later with the news. She had actually been living down the road from him and had been going to the same coffee shops and he had no idea. She had wanted to say something but couldn’t because of how secret it was.
He wasn’t fully aware of how much of an impact having a female Doctor would be. He tends to stay away from the internet since, as we all know, it can be a nasty place. But he thinks it’s wonderful. In fact, the outpouring of excitement for the new Doctor garnered one of the funniest responses. “What, that I was gone?” Capaldi teased, bringing laughter throughout the hall.
A fan had later asked if he gave Whittaker any advice and he said no. Because she will be wonderful and do her own thing. And really, you can’t describe it unless you’ve been in it yourself. Capaldi remembers talking to Smith and David Tennant about how he didn’t realize the things that would happen. So on that note, best of luck to Jodie!
The host asked if Capaldi had yanked anything from set but he said no. Why? “I played Doctor Who, you don’t need anything.” This also elicited some awww’s among the crowd.
Then we dove into fan questions! He was asked about if he would return to “Thick of It” but he said he wouldn’t, though he would be working with the showrunner soon. Joking about politics isn’t funny right now, given the political climate here in the western world.
As for things he would’ve liked to do – he would’ve liked The Doctor to return to the Webbed Planet. And maybe even go back to the 60s to meet Jimi Hendrix, before he became famous. Capaldi joked about having The Doctor create a “wawa pedal” for Hendrix. And even some groovy flower pedal headed monsters that would emit a smoke that would make everyone high. It was hilarious! In addition, his favorite episode to film was “Heaven Sent” because it was both challenging and exciting since it was the Doctor completely on his own, something that was never done on DW before.
When asked what his favorite season was by a young fan, Capaldi asked if he meant out of his seasons or overall. The nervous boy answered “Yes” to the question, making many laugh out loud. He started listing the first few seasons of DW overall, smiling at the young boy.
When asked about the Doctor’s tics, Capaldi joked about having “flares” (bellbottoms) for the Doctor. But really he wanted to make the Doctor difficult to get to know. Both Tennant and Smith made it easy to let people in but Capaldi wanted to bring out the alien side in him. He wanted to show that the Doctor won’t always care about humanity and how he doesn’t always think they’re great.
Speaking of that, he was asked what the Doctor’s advice would be to humanity, given the current chaos. Passionately, he pleaded to “get it together”. We need to get people who care about the future and think about the future into places of power. But truly we needed to get it together. The thunderous applause in response answered all our feelings regarding the state of our world.
One of the funniest bits from the panel included talking about his “hair evolution”. This made Capaldi crack up in laughter. He didn’t want to cut his hair short for it but was heavily suggested that he should. So as time went on, he got it cut less and less. And during his second season, he “bravely” asked to just see what would happen if they left it. He continually commented that there was no controlling it, it had a mind of it’s own. He also thought it would be hilarious if the Doctor had to fight his own hair. If it had grown out of control and would go around choking people.
The panel ended on a sad yet celebratory end. They played a video montage of fans around the world telling him how much his Doctor meant to them. How they were his favorite and their Doctor. They intercut the words of fans with fan art, showing off just how passionate Whovians are. Peter Capaldi stood up at the end of it and thanked everyone not only for coming but for being fans and being as passionate as they are. And with that, Peter Capaldi left to the sound of roaring applause.
Capaldi was funny yet stern and just a plethora of entertainment. We wish Capaldi the best of luck in his future endeavors!
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