When Jodie Whittaker was said to be scheduled to appear in David Tennant’s new podcast (David Tennant Does A Podcast With…) we all knew it would be full of Doctor Who goodness. The Tenth Doctor chatting with the Thirteenth Doctor? Whittaker discussed her childhood, auditioning for Doctor Who and much more.
Actress Jodie Whittaker took a brief journey down memory lane with interviewer and former Doctor Who actor David Tennant as she reminisced about how she came to be the actress she is today. Whittaker admitted that she was brought up fairly gender neutral and was a bit of a tomboy in her youth. Constantly coming up with make believe fantasies to act out she first became interested in acting when her brother and her watched a VHS featuring behind the scenes footage of the popular Micheal Jackson video Thriller. Her family had taught her to pursue her dreams rather than to have a backup occupation planned. She admitted that she is grateful that she was able to get into acting or she may have ended up working in a pub for the rest of her days.
Whittaker and Tennant first met on the set of the successful television drama Broadchurch. There has been a lot of bleed over between Doctor Who and Broadchurch in the way of both cast members and show runners. Chris Chibnall was the executive producer on Broadchurch and when he took over Doctor Who, he brought Whittaker with him. Though it wasn’t exactly planned out that way.
Getting the Audition
Chibnall invited Whittaker out for a coffee which she assumed would be a business meeting to discuss Broadchurch. This is when he revealed to her that the new Doctor would be a female. Chibnall asked Whittaker if she would be interested in auditioning for the role herself. “I didn’t even hesitate. I said ‘Yes’ right away”, the actress revealed.
Whittaker had actually auditioned for a minor role in Doctor Who during the Matt Smith era but didn’t get the part. This may have been a blessing in disguise as having previously been featured in the show could have hurt her chances of being recast as the Doctor. Fans may recall that as much as Olivia Coleman was talked about as a possibility for the new Doctor, she had actually also been cast in a minor role during the Smith era. Appearing as a mother of twin girls, Coleman was briefly featured in The Eleventh Hour. A role that the former show runner admits was a waste of the actress’ talents.
Researching the Role
Having agreed to the audition, Whittaker admitted she had an internal sense of “This isn’t just about me”. “It doesn’t just affect me and my immediates. It affects my social circle and my family”, Whittaker explained. Of course, It was more than just the fact she would have to move in order to play the role as it required several months of long days of filming. Due to the large worldwide fan base Doctor Who has, she would no longer have the anonymity she currently was able to enjoy.
Whittaker explained that she considered herself to be a fairly private person. She doesn’t like her social life and the lives of her loved ones being in the public eye. However, if she were to achieve this role, her whole world could change. She dreamed of being a successful actress, but not necessarily a famous one. Regardless she put everything she had into the audition. If she was going to try, she was going to give it everything she had.
The actress had only watched a few episodes of the program before getting the audition. She had been friends with many former cast members but she simply wasn’t a Whovian. She decided to do some research and started watching a few more episodes of former Doctors to get a feel for what would be expected of her. However, she realised this wasn’t working for her pretty quickly. She didn’t wish to recreate someone else’s version of the Doctor. She was worried that if she continued watching the older episodes, this may affect how she plays the role, and decided against it.
The First Audition
Whittaker had presumed that in order to play the role, she would be expected to put on an RP (Received Pronunciation) English accent. After all, Tennant had been asked to change his accent for the role. He had been the only former Doctor she knew first hand. Chibnall told the actress that he wanted her to use her own voice. Whomever got the role was expected to use their own natural accent. The fact that she had a northern accent, which suited the first episode being filmed in Sheffield was pure coincidence.
Her first audition she performed scenes that were similar to the ones in The Woman Who Fell to Earth, but before the script was finalised. She got to act along side Tosin Cole. Day one she had to perform the scene where she stuck her finger up her own nose. She must have done a brilliant job because as we all know, she got the role.
Being the First Female Doctor
Jodie Whittaker didn’t just have the burden of being the next Doctor in Doctor who, she also had the stress of being the first female incarnation of the Time Lord as well. However, she didn’t initially feel the pressure of this added responsibility. “I didn’t really realise the responsibility in such a sense until after the first episode came out”, she explains. When the actress saw the initial figures for The Woman Who Fell to Earth she thought to herself, “Ah, I could have set us back”.
Tennant asked her if she was surprised by how much of a fuss was made about it. Whittaker just laughed, “Uhhh, no”. Whittaker elaborated, “I wasn’t surprised by it because I think it needed that conversation”.
“The conversation is to open up points of view and to not always tell the same story from the same perspective [ . . . ] Isn’t it interesting to see the world through many different eyes?” — Jodie Whittaker
Whittaker went on to discuss how we are all flawed, as individuals. “We are all so very flawed characters, and that is ok [ . . . ] Young people should have many different types of people to look up to, and none of that should be perfection”, she explained. She went on to say, “The Doctor certainly has flaws. Therefor, all the people who have played that character have flaws”.
[Jodie Whittaker header photo source: Ben Ritter/Bustle]