Yesterday, David Tennant took part in a Q&A session at Wizard World Comic Con in Madison, Wisconsin yesterday. Talking to panel host Tony B. Kim in the packed-out Arena of the Alliant Energy Center, he spoke about Doctor Who, Jessica Jones, Broadchurch and his childhood journey to becoming an actor. Read a summary of what he had to say here:
"Meh!" (A response that didn't go down well with the locals!)
"I like cheese as an ingredient of things...but when someone wheels out the cheeseboard, that's not a dessert! Don't try and pretend that's in place of dessert. I want pudding!"
Food he is crazy about:
"Just about anything you can do with a potato. And I do find breakfast cereal hard to beat in all its many and luxuriant forms. I have a little something I forget about until I come to America - Golden Grahams. I think they're really bad for you, but we're just not going to worry about that."
How he got into acting:
"I was just a kid who watched the TV and thought it looked like a fun job. I remember talking to my parents about people on TV and how they were pretending and I remember at a really young age getting that and deciding that's what I was going to do when I grew up. And it's all worked out."
Shows on TV that he loved as a kid:
"I loved all sorts of things. I was a Doctor Who fan as many people currently working on Doctor Who were. It seems to be almost compulsory now. From the US I used to love the Incredible Hulk show. There was something deeply tragic about it - maybe it was the wig."
His blue eyes in Casanova:
"I had blue eyes because Peter O'Toole was the old Casanova and I was young Casanova. Nobody was about to tell Peter O'Toole he had to change his eye colour as he had some of the most famous eyes in all movie history. So I had to wear these thick blue contact lenses for weeks."
Being cast as the Tenth Doctor:
"Russell [T Davies] asked me to his house in Manchester as he had a couple of rough cuts from the first series of Doctor Who and he knew I was a bit of a fan and might want to see how the show was looking. He showed me a rough cut of Rose and a rougher cut of Dalek...and then they told me they wanted me to take over. This was before the show had even transmitted."
The Tenth Doctor's outfit:
"What you're going to wear becomes this huge vast question that becomes quite onerous. That was quite difficult. We spent days in a costume house in London. One of the first things I said to Russell and Julie [Gardner] before I'd even said yes was 'Can I have a really long coat?' I just think it's important! So the coat was great, made of sofa covering, would you believe?"
On upholding the legacy of Doctor Who:
"It's hugely exciting to be plonked in the middle of all that but you just want to get it right. You want your eight-year old self to be proud of what you do."
The effect of Doctor Who on his private life:
"From the minute it's announced your life sort of changes a bit. People are interested in everything about you which takes a bit of adjustment to. You have to get used to the idea that going to the supermarket will never be the same again."
On his casting as Kilgrave:
"I got a phone call from Jeph Loeb, the head of Marvel TV. I used to read comic books that he'd written. I didn't know the [Alias] comic book, so I read it and thought, this is juicy. Not one for the kids, slightly a more grown up version of the Marvel universe. But it was a great story, great character and I got to be a character from a comic book. My eight-year old self was quite pleased with that too! It was too exciting to turn down."
Do Doctor Who fans get upset about him playing a villain:
"In my experience Doctor Who fans are not stupid. I think people understand that actors play different roles and that's part of what they do. Just because you play a good guy doesn't necessarily meanyou are a good guy, just as playing a bad guy doesn't mean that you're a psychopathic murderer."
Different styles of playing different characters:
"What you have to do is approach each character for who they are rather than going, this is a baddie, how do I chew scenery in this bit, or this is a goodie, therefore I can't do X,Y or Z. It's the middle ground that makes the character interesting. It's the bits of Kilgrave when you see his vulnerability or the bits of the Doctor when you see his darkness and his vengefulness. Part of what you're trying to do as an actor is trying to find the bits that surprise an audience and the contradictions within the character because that's what makes the character come alive."
How the TARDIS adds rooms:
"It's all to do with things...it's a bit wibbly-wobbly. The door to the TARDIS, you're actually going through into a different dimension and in the other dimension, the TARDIS is enormous. It's got a gym, playing fields, a Starbucks..."
Broadchurch and Gracepoint:
It was different and it was exactly the same. That was what was so unusual. I've never done anything like that before. We did Broadchurch first then basically the same story set in northern California, but filmed in Canada. It was really interesting to revisit a story like that playing sort of the same character but a few degrees to the side. It's a story I love telling and it was great to tell it in slightly different ways. If you're in theatre you do the same thing every night, so doing the same story on the other side of the world with a different set of people didn't feel like a repetition but like another way of examining something."
The best part of being the Doctor:
"Having your own TARDIS is pretty cool. It's getting to play with all the buttons on the TARDIS and no-one can tell you to stop because it's yours!"
"Isn't it brilliant with John Barrowman, just saying his name sounds like a double entendre? How does he manage to make that happen - across the world? "
The best bits of filming Jessica Jones:
"It was a great time filming it because there's something very seductive about having that power. As a human being you think, wouldn't it be great to have all that power, if everything you requested just happened. And filming those scenes was a bit intoxicating. Whatever you said just happened in the room around you. Then they'd shout cut and it just stopped."
On his driving skills:
"I do drive, and I drive better than Billie Piper!"
Advice for young actors:
"I'm often asked for advice and I never know what to say. It's a total crapshoot. All you can do is do your bit of it as well as you can. Everything else is going to happen or it's not. Be on time, learn your lines and be nice. That's it."
On his Doctor Who co-stars:
"I had a very happy time on that show and part of it was that I had such incredible people to work with every single day. I don't think I was happier on that job than the episode when they were all in it together. It was just one of my happiest professional times ever."
His most emotional Doctor Who goodbye:
"The hardest day for me was when it was my last day of shooting and I had to say goodbye to everyone on the set and this show and this whole thing that had been such a massive part of my life."
Returning for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary:
"It was a bit alarming in, what if Matt Smith doesn't want anyone stepping on his toes. It was his playground by then, his show. But actually I ended up having such a great time with Matt that we just had a ball really. And John Hurt was pretty cool too and Billie was back, so it was just a really lovely time."
His favourite superhero:
"When I was a kid it was the Incredible Hulk definitely because there was something about the fact that he wasn't quite a hero. It was deeply tragic, his story, partly the TV show and also the comic books. He was almost like a child, lost. I think he's a brilliant character. Nowadays, it's hard to beat Wolverine, isn't it, he's pretty cool. I'm certainly more of a Marvel boy, I have to say. But if DC are listening, I will accept offers..."