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As a teenager, Smith dreamed of playing soccer professionally (he's shown, above right, in a 2010 episode of Doctor Who). Smith was picked for the youth teams of Nottingham Forest and Leicester City, but a back injury forced him out of the game. Instead, Smith decided to pursue acting and was cast in the National Theatre's acclaimed production of Alan Bennett's History Boys. In 2006, Smith appeared in Burn/Chatroom/Citizenship, a trio of plays aimed at young people. One costar of the future Doctor? Future Spider-Man Andrew Garfield. ''I remember at the read-through going, 'Whoa, this kid's good.''' Smith later told EW. ''And he is.''
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Smith scored his first big TV break playing a researcher on the 2007 BBC political drama Party Animals. The next year he appeared in the BBC drama The Ruby in the Smoke, an adaptation of the novel by His Dark Places author Philip Pullman.
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Smith was cast in the darkly comic 2008 film starring Colin Farrell. Though his performance was cut from the finished film, it's included in the DVD's deleted scenes.
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In January 2009, it was announced Smith would replace David Tennant as the star of the BBC's hugely successful time travel show, Doctor Who. Tennant's Tenth Doctor regenerates into Smith's iteration in a special, two-part adventure and the latter then begins his TARDIS tenure proper with the 2010 episode ''The Eleventh Hour.'' As Doctor Who was on a lengthy hiatus while Smith was growing up he had never seen an episode prior to the audition process but, after getting the role, became a devoted student of the Time Lord's adventures. ''I feel very privileged to be in the hot seat because I am genuinely a fan of the show,'' he later told EW. ''I don't think there's anything like it on television.''
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In 2010, a banner year for both Smith and fans of sci-fi, the actor also won a role opposite Eva Green in cloning film Womb.
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Bert & Dickie
In addition to his duties on Doctor Who, Smith starred as novelist Christopher Isherwood in the 2011 BBC TV movie Christopher and His Kind and as real-life Olympic rower Bert Bushnell in another BBC production, 2012's Bert and Dickie.
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Smith went behind the camera to direct this 2013's short film, a drama about two teenage friends.
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In February 2013, it was announced that Smith had joined the cast of Ryan Gosling's directorial debut How to Catch a Monster, which was subsequently renamed Lost River. His costars in the fantasy drama include Christina Hendricks, Saoirse Ronan, and Eva Mendes.
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''The Day of the Doctor''
In November 2013, Smith starred in the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special ''The Day of the Doctor,'' alongside Tennant, John Hurt, and Tom Baker, the most beloved of the ''old'' Doctors.
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In December 2013, Smith returned to the live arena to play the lead role of Wall Street maniac Patrick Bateman in a new, musical version of Bret Easton Ellis's notorious novel American Psycho, which was staged at London's Almeida Theatre. Guardian critic Michael Billington praised the actor's ''beautifully defined performance as the deluded hero.''
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''The Time of the Doctor''
At the end of the 2013 Doctor Who special Christmas episode ''The Time of the Doctor,'' Smith's time-traveler regenerates into Peter Capaldi's version of the small screen hero. Smith was joined on his final Doctor Who episode by Karen Gillan, who had portrayed longtime sidekick Amy Pond. ''It was such a surreal experience,'' said Gillan. ''Everyone was crying.''
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On May 2, 2014, Skydance Productions tweeted that Smith had joined the cast of the rebooted big screen Terminator franchise: ''We don't have a TARDIS, but we do have a Time Lord: we're pleased to welcome Matt Smith to the cast of #Terminator.''