July 26, 2012 at 06:27 PM EDT

Take a look at the new issue of Entertainment Weekly (left) and you’ll see that the travel-heavy habits ways of a certain Doctor have finally landed him on the cover of EW. Yes, the 49-year-old British time travel show Doctor Who has hit the big time — and in more ways than one, as stars Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, and Arthur Darvill and executive producer Steven Moffat reveal in the cover feature.

Alas, unlike the Doctor’s time- and spaceship the TARDIS, Entertainment Weekly is not “bigger on the inside,” which meant we couldn’t include everything Moffat and crew had to say. But worry ye not, Whovians! Over the next few days we’re going to post Q&As with the Who folks as well as notable super fans Craig Ferguson and Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes.

First up? The “Doctor” himself, Matt Smith, whom I spoke with earlier this month in his trailer while he was shooting a new, Victorian era-set episode of Doctor Who in South Wales. Below, Smith previews the new season (which BBC America will start screening later this summer), discusses his Who future, and recalls filming the final episode to feature the Doctor’s companions Amy and Rory. You’ll find an exclusive, behind-the-scenes shot from that episode at the bottom of the page.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The Doctor’s companions Amy (Karen Gillan) and Rory (Arthur Darvill) are leaving the show at the end of the first half of the new season, in an episode that was shot in New York and features the much feared Weeping Angels. What was it like filming that show?

MATT SMITH: It was one of the most amazing experiences that I’ve had as an actor. Me, Karen, and Arthur had a whale of a time. Because (a) it’s New York, everywhere you point a camera, it’s going to look brilliant. And (b) I love the Weeping Angels, they’re my favorite monster. And people in America are really getting hold of the show. They really support it. It’s interesting, in America, we’re seeing more children turn up for things. Alex Kingston (who plays the Doctor’s fellow time traveler and girlfriend River Song) was saying that when she picks her kids up from school some of the kids are going, “Hey River Song!” That’s exciting for us. But it’s the last days of the Ponds! [Pretends to start weeping] They’ve gone, everyone!

The first show of the new season features the dreaded Daleks. What was filming that like?

Wonderful! Because I got to meet my favorite Daleks, which are actually from [Patrick] Troughton’s era, I think. They’re the sort of pale blue and whitey ones. They’re a bit smaller actually. I think they’re groovy! I mean, we’ve got every Dalek that exists in the world [in the episode].

Groovy? The Daleks are supposed to be frightening!

Oh yeah, I mean they are frightening. But you can’t help but go, “God, there’s 20 Daleks in a room moving around me!” It’s exciting!

I understand the people operating them have to go to “Dalek school.”

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. People have to go and learn how to be a Dalek. Rule 1: Be evil! Rule 2: Don’t eat chips, don’t drink soda.

You’ve also shot a Western-themed episode?

We went out and shot in Almeria in Spain, where they shot The Good The Bad and the Ugly, a Fistful of Dollars. All the Sergio Leone stuff. Indiana Jones. All these great movies. You know, we’ve done Utah, we’ve done a great big Western, we’ve done New York. I think it’s very exciting to see just where else it can go.

Ben Browder from Farscape is in that show?

He did really well. He’s great in it, actually. He brings that sort of American naturalism which we Brits just don’t have, however hard we try. Yeah, he was great. He makes a good cowboy. He has that great drawl. And the wonderful Adrian Scarborough (The King’s Speech) is in that, he just steals the whole episode. He’s fantastic.

Is James Corden (the star of Broadway show One Man Two Guvnors and repeat Who guest star) coming back this season?

We’d love him to, but he’s pretty busy being a Tony award-winning actor on Broadway and having a baby. But we’d love to get James back.

Steven Moffat said he intended this season to feature less poetic understatement and more Die Hard-type action.

Yeah, it’s kind of a big film-of-the-week. We’ve got dinosaurs on a spaceship. We’ve got a Western episode. We’ve got New York and Weeping Angels. And I think that’s quite exciting. It’s like going to the box office every week. We hope. I think the last days of the Ponds are really strong, I’m really thrilled with those. And I think going into the new season with the new companion is very exciting. Again, Steven is on fine form and he’s playing with time and space in his cool, timey-wimey way.

Next: “The moment the Doctor stops surprising you is the moment that you should hand it over.”

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