The Version Interview.... Justin Chatwin on the 2016 Doctor Who Christmas Special
This Christmas sees The Doctor join forces with a masked Superhero for an epic New York adventure.
With brain-swapping aliens poised to attack, the Doctor and Nardole link up with an investigative reporter and a mysterious figure known only as The Ghost. Can the Doctor save Manhattan? And what will be revealed when we see behind the mask?
The 60 minute Doctor Who Christmas Special is written by Steven Moffat, Executive Produced by Brian Minchin, Produced by Peter Bennett and Directed by Ed Bazalgette (Poldark), it was shot in Cardiff at BBC Wales Roath Lock Studios.
How did the role come about?
I got a letter sent to my agent from Ed [Bazalgette] and Peter [Bennet] just saying that “we’re doing the Christmas Special of Doctor Who, here’s the script and here’s the deal and this is how long etc” - it’s how most scripts come about. I read it and I said “This is the best thing I’ve read all year”. It was really funny and really entertaining and when an actor gets writing that’s as good as that it’s really hard to say no. The calibre of acting is phenomenal - I’m a huge fan of Matt Lucas from Little Britain and I had seen Peter Capaldi’s work and he’s great. There’s a pace and specificity and a respect for writing, rehearsal and theatre that is more cared for here and it shows in the work.
How did you find working with Steven’s script?
As long as we stuck close to what Steven wrote, word-for-word, it was perfect because he wrote something that flowed so well. So if I missed a word, it probably wouldn’t work. This was the first thing I’ve ever been on where I didn’t have an opinion about a line – it was line-for-line perfect. Every single line motivated the next and every single word had a meaning behind it. It was good subtext, it was really good storytelling and when there’s good storytelling, actors are happy!
What appealed to you about the role of Grant/The Ghost?
I loved, loved, loved the old Batman, the old Superman, the old Spiderman because there was so much story and it was more about relationships. The original Superman was this nerd – a nerd who couldn’t get the girl so he created this alter ego in order to be the guy that he couldn’t be and that’s the same with Grant and The Ghost. I really felt it would be fun to play a character that was very much like what Christopher Reeves did with Superman combined with a little bit of what Michael Keaton did in Batman.
Doctor Who, Christmas Day, BBC One.