Faith D’Isa ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Possibly one of the most coveted events of this weekend’s Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con was the ticketed panel reuniting former Doctor Who co-stars Matt Smith and Karen Gillan, who portrayed the best friend duo of the Eleventh Doctor and Amelia Pond. Gillan left the show in the middle of the last season, just before it was announced that it would also be the end of Matt’s time on the program. Since, the pair have been making rounds as a part of numerous other projects, Gillan starring in horror film Oculus, and Smith a part of Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut, Lost River. They’ve begun pairing up again as a part of Wizard World’s tour of conventions, and sat down for a panel together Saturday morning of the convention.
It’s widely known that the duo were close friends during their time filming Doctor Who, so it’s no surprise that a lot of semi-serious questions became something of a game for them. They spent much of the time imitating one another and singing and dancing around the stage. Upon being asked who their inspirations were in acting, Gillan answered very easily, “Tilda Swinton”. Smith? “My inspiration is an actor named Karen Gillan.” They also spent the panel testing each other on the season and episode numbers of episodes they referenced, assigning a fan in the front row as a fact checker.
The pair also showed a bit of love for the United States; they filmed here a couple times, agreeing very simply that their time here was “the best”, stated by Gillan.
Though Gillan and Smith were both billed for other things at the convention, most notably Gillan’s involvement in the upcoming Marvel film Guardians of the Galaxy (On shaving her head for the character of Nebula; “While it was happening, I was laughing…I immediately fell asleep in the chair that they shaved it for two hours, and I hadn’t worked with anyone on Guardians of the Galaxy so I was just the weird sleeping bald girl.”),the topic of the Q&A session tended to sway in a Whovian direction.
Gillan talked for a bit about her influence on the wardrobe of her character, Amelia Pond. When a fan dressed in an intricate armored costume of Amy’s from the episode “The Girl Who Waited” asked, Gillan discussed how, at the beginning of filming, she was given a rack of clothes. “I didn’t like any of them, actually,” She said. “…I was the same age as the character, so I was like, ‘I know what we wear! You’re older! You don’t!’” They were also asked what it would be like if they chose to switch roles on the show—Smith seemed to be primarily focused on keeping Gillan’s wardrobe.
“I think it should be as fun to make as it is to watch”, they said on the program, both citing their “first” episode together—“The Eleventh Hour” as their favorite, though both said that “stepping into a pre-established role (The 10 other actors to play the Doctor for Matt, her younger cousin Caitlyn Blackwood who portrayed young Amelia for Karen) was challenging”. “You work so much, your life ceases to be your life”, Smith commented.
But not everything was fun and games on the Doctor Who set. Gillan and Smith when asked about the “one thing” that was necessary to bring to filming, discussed the necessity of heat packs, as they often filmed in freezing climates, sometimes even making belts of them to wear under their coats.
On her famous scene falling from Winter Quay with Arthur Darvill, who portrayed Amelia’s husband, Rory Williams, from her final episode, “The Angels Take Manhattan”, Gillan spoke of other strenuous filming requirements for something that seemed quite simple. “Me and Arthur were suspended upside down for two minutes,” She said. “…We had to kiss upside down. I burst all the blood vessels in my face, I had red dots everywhere.”
Also in regards to Darvill, Gillan commented the difficulty of filming the sometimes hilariously large number of death scenes Rory had. “I had to think of different ways to cry.
Smith spent a good portion of the panel making sad quips about the fact that his time on the show was finished, but also praised his successor, actor Peter Capaldi, who steps into the role later this year. On his method, Smith stated, “Run a bath, but run a bath as the Doctor would run a bath. Kids, as your parents, because you could have a flooding bell. Make a cup of tea. Do it as the Doctor would do.”
The panel encouraged audience interaction both in person and via social media, with its own well done hashtag system on twitter; when the panel concluded, one member of the audience pulled from the hashtag received the name plates that Gillan and Smith autographed. The packed house had lines waiting to ask questions still full when the ninety minute time slot had ended, and all seemed satisfied with the reunion of the two friends and stars.