SciFiNow recently interviewed Andy Pryor, a casting director on Doctor Who, to discuss the casting of Karen Gillan as the Doctor’s new companion. Pryor had plenty to say about this appointment, as well as disclosing a few details on the upcoming fifth series of the show. Here is the interview in full.
How many people did you audition for the role of the Doctor’s new companion?
I investigated and considered many different people for the role and short-listed quite a few, who I auditioned on my own over the course of two or three weeks. I then showed the best of the auditions to the team and we whittled these down to seven or eight, who we recalled to read with Matt Smith and meet the team.
What was it about Karen Gillan that made her right for the role?
Karen did what a casting director always hopes an actor will do, that is to bring something special to the role. Good actors will always bring the script to life but a really special one will give it their own spin, adding dimensions to a character, which make you want to know more about them. This character is quite complex in many ways and Karen’s incredible versatility will ensure that the audience roots for her, loves her and will be carried along with her on her journey.
Are you concerned that older fans of Doctor Who may get alienated by this new younger cast?
I’m not in the least bit concerned about Matt and Karen’s ages. They are both highly skilled actors, both genuinely cast for their ability rather than to fulfil a “brief”. Neither of them are teenagers and they have great track records already – Matt in particular having played a wide range of parts in theatre, film and television. Besides which, people forget that Peter Davison was only in his late twenties when he was cast and many of the Doctor’s previous companions have been the same age or even younger than Karen. Billie Piper was around the same age when we originally cast her. I am hugely confident that Matt and Karen will appeal to the whole audience.
How many episodes/seasons is Karen signed up for?
As always, I can’t discuss the future, partly because I know very little about Steven Moffat’s plans beyond this series. Suffice to say I hope Karen will be around for some time to come!
When will Karen first be appearing in the new series?
Karen will appear in the first episode of the new series, which will be broadcast next Spring.
Were you looking for any qualities from a previous companion that you think Karen may capture the spirit of?
Casting this role felt very much like starting afresh. The character is very much Steven’s invention and has unique qualities, which will set her apart. I suppose the fundamentals of the companion’s role are there – helping the audience to learn more about The Doctor and enabling the audience to see time and space through her eyes. Apart from that though, this is very much a new companion and she’s a rounded individual.
Do you have any plans for previous companions to feature in this new series?
I’m afraid I can’t reveal any details of characters in the new series.
Karen Gillan and Matt Smith will appear in the new series of Doctor Who, which will be airing on the BBC in Spring 2010.