Last week we brought you the news that Harry Potter director, David Yates, is planning the next big screen outing for the BBC's long running Sci-Fi series, Doctor Who. Exciting news, but now that these rumors have been confirmed, it's an apt time to consider what may be in store.
All we know so far is that Yates wants to take the character in a new direction, distancing himself from not only the current 11th Doctor Matt Smith, but from the whole post-Russell T. Davies (the man who revived the series in 2005 after a long hiatus) era. This might well suggest that celebrity guest stars, young, sexy Doctors, and lashings of heart-wrenching sentiment might well be absent from the feature length version.
Yates seems like an excellent choice for the project, with his work on the last few Harry Potter films elevating the series to a point that would have seemed inconceivable when Chris Columbus was at the reins. He also is experienced in television crossovers, with his excellent Mini-series State of Play receiving the Hollywood makeover in 2009.
There is currently no script, but with the amount of DW fiction around, it is unlikely there will be a drought of writers queuing up for this one. One name that comes to mind is Neil Gaiman, whose most recent episode marked the zenith of the most recent series. He also has the big screen experience, having penned several novels that have undergone the transition to the movie theatre including Coraline and Stardust. Gaiman has expressed a wish to return to Doctor Who, and his unique imagination and sci-fi background would make him the most obvious choice. There is a more pressing issue however, that is already occupying a considerable portion of the internet's rumor mill, and that is the question of the star, so let's take a moment to consider the contenders for the role of the Time Lord.
As mentioned above, this seems an unlikely choice given Yates' desire to take the series in a new direction, but Matt Smith has brought a depth to the character that we've not seen before. His physical performance is peerless and the 28-year-old plays an ancient Time Lord convincingly without ever losing any of his childlike charm. What further removes Smith from the front-runners is the fact that his tenure as the Doctor will most likely have come to an end by the time the movie is released. With one more series to go, it looks like the 11th Doctor will have long since regenerated by the time the DW film hits our screens.
According to some reports, Hugh Laurie is the favorite for the role. His recent global superstardom would make him an attractive proposition for the studios, and he certainly has the gravitas and upper middle-class demeanor of the original, older Doctors. One downside could be that he lacks the more quixotic element of the Doctor's personality, but you only have to think back to his work on the Blackadder series to be reminded that he's not all acid tongue, snarls and limps.
Hugh Laurie seems to be getting all the attention, but what about his old double-act partner, Stephen Fry. Fry possesses the avuncular nature of William Hartnell; the eccentricity of Tom Baker; and David Tennant's gift of gab. he infrequency of his acting roles may make it hard to imagine him taking the part, but if it is the earlier style of Doctor the producers are after, they could do a lot worse.
It is perhaps unsurprising that Johnny Depp is a name that is being thrown about, as he is pretty much in the hat for any highly anticipated role, but it's his attraction to the British oddball suggests that it is not a completely wild stab in the dark. The one problem that most will have is accepting an American Doctor. Although Depp has mastered the British tongue in many different forms over the years, the Doctor, like James Bond, is so quintessentially British that the die-hards would never accept it, irrespective of the fact that the Doctor is from an entirely different galaxy.
Despite having appeared in the last series of Doctor Who, the Welsh actor would be a great choice to play the Gallifreyan time traveler. Sheen is an excellent comic and physical actor and would bring the same dramatic depth to the character that has become a staple of the show since Christopher Eccelstone arrived in 2005. His ability to fully inhabit a character would be wonderful to watch in the case of the Doctor, as there is so much source material for him to draw on.
Another popular choice; James McAvoy would continue the trend of a younger, more swarve Doctor, and his previous work with director David Yates on State of Play would suggest that he could be a genuine contender. It is easy to imagine the X-Men star in the Baker-esque coat and scarf, pontificating incomprehensibly technological jargon, and he certainly has enough of a Hollywood reputation to attract the ever growing American audience that the producers will have their eye own.
Let me know who you'd like to see as the 12th Doctor.