Fan Expo 2019: Peter Capaldi Is The Best Doctor (Don’t @ Us)
Twelfth Doctor Peter Capaldi charmed a couple thousand fans as the closing panelist at this weekend’s Toronto Fan Expo. The Doctor Who star fielded questions from Whovians about his time on the show as well as his life-long Who fandom. Capaldi appeared on stage with his head shaved close to the scalp in preparation for a new role that he can’t yet talk about (he did hint that it involves prosthetics). The panel kicked off with a question about the Twelfth Doctor’s sartorial choices, including his Doc Marten boots and Paul Smith suits.
Perhaps more than any other Doctor who’d come before him, Capaldi pushed back on the pressure for the character to be colourful. He took inspiration from several sources for his Who wardrobe: the original series—the show that made him fall in love with the Doctor’s world—Paul Smith’s designs, and David Bowie. Above all, he wanted an inexpensive costume that could easily be copied by kids (and adoring cosplayers).
About halfway into the panel, Capaldi began sharing some behind-the-scenes stories that had the audience breaking into applause in 30 second intervals. The actor revealed that writer and showrunner Steven Moffat liked to slip insults into the script that “he’d never say to your face.” Matt Smith was called “Chin Boy” and Capaldi himself had to recite lines mocking his own eyebrows. He also teased Jenna Coleman for her inability to decide whether or not she’d stay on or leave the show. But when it came to Michael Pickwoad, who died in 2018, Capaldi had nothing but glowing compliments for the production designer, who also worked on one of his favourite films, the near-perfect Withnail and I.
Things got emotional near the end of the panel when the moderator asked him to talk about his post-Who experience attending cons like Fan Expo. “People are coming up to you telling you that you’re great and you get paid for it—what kind of a job is that?” “It’s brilliant,” he joked. “Anybody who makes a show, they’re doing it in isolation… You don’t realize the power it has. I’ll tell you one very quick story: I met a lady—she couldn’t speak, she was overcome with emotion—because she had a child who had a very difficult medical condition and every time on the eve of another procedure they would, as a family, recite the “fear is a superhero” speech from [the episode] “Listen.” She said that got them through it. That’s such a great testament to Steven Moffat as a writer and to the power of Doctor Who and good things in the world.”
Asked about his own greatest moments on the series, Capaldi said that it was both arriving and leaving. “They’ll never be replicated in any other way.”