Doctor Who star Jodie Whittaker on her final season and why she was tempted to stay on the show longer
When the BBC announced earlier this year that Jodie Whittaker would leave Doctor Who after the upcoming season and three subsequent specials, showrunner Chris Chibnall revealed that he and his star had made a "three series and out" pact when they started working together on the show. But Whittaker tells EW it was an agreement she thought about breaking once she began shooting its third season, which premieres Oct. 31.
"There was a point where I was definitely like, 'Uhh, I don't know,'" says the actress. "We started this [season] and I was like, 'I don't know if I'm going to be able to commit to this decision.' Wonderfully, going into it, it didn't feel like either of us were being held to our own conversation. It was still very much, between me and him, a very active conversation."
She continues, "But at the point when you're filming and you go, 'Right, what are we doing?,' there was just something about it that was like, 'I think it is the right time.' I know at some point there will be another Doctor, and I feel I can wholeheartedly give them this, through tears, and go, 'Aww, mate, you lucky f---er, you are being given an absolute pearl.' I want people to know that I really did fully throw myself into it and give it all I've got so that I've not shortchanged anyone."
Below, Whittaker talks more about her upcoming final season, how she'll deal with departing the TARDIS, and whether she would consider reprising her role from Attack the Block in its proposed sequel.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It's definitely unprofessional to say this, but when I told my girlfriend I was interviewing you about your last season on Doctor Who, she said, "Well, try not to cry."
JODIE WHITTAKER: I understand, mate. I'm a mess. I've had tears all week this week. Obviously, without giving any spoilers, there's been quite a few big people wrapping.
Where are you with regards to shooting? Because you have this season and then the three specials.
I'm probably not allowed to tell you. We are at the point where I am towards the end of my shooting. It's much better for me being interviewed now, because if it was after we'd wrapped, I'd be an absolute mess. I'm not going to cope very well.
I'm sad that you're leaving because I think you've been a great Doctor but also because now I have to try to ingratiate myself with whomever they cast in your place.
I know. I mean, how am I going to cope with being old news? [Laughs]
Well, if you look at the career of the people who have played the modern Doctors, they've done pretty well after leaving the show.
Everyone's said it to me, but this is the gift that keeps on giving. This job's never taken away from you. It's not like David [Tennant] is not the Doctor. He is! You're not kicked out of the family — the family just grows. You know, for some fans it will be an absolute "Thank god for that!" [But] I've had enough lovely interactions and been sent enough wonderful little memes to say that, "Oh, my feeling of sadness is shared." It's overwhelming because I don't know life outside of it. I was announced and then I started playing the Doctor really soon. I feel really bereft about it if I'm honest. It feels like the right decision, but also like you're punching yourself in the face to make the decision.
I understand. Well, I do have some questions I should shoot at you…
I've basically treated the first half of this like a therapy session!
And that's totally fine. What can you tell us about the new season?
What's been really vital to me is that I saw this journey out, side by side, with my sister from another mister. The joy I have had going into work every day with Mandip [Gill], and [having] Yaz and the Doctor still on this crazy adventure together, has been wonderful. We are going into a serial and, for both me and her, that's not our experience on Doctor Who. Obviously we've had story arcs, but this feels like we're in this huge film.
The break points are going to be fascinating to me because, now that I've shot it, it's all a bit of a blur and I can't quite work out which episode is which. It's like the massive stone in Indiana Jones where he's being chased. For Yaz, it's been a brilliant confidence builder to sometimes lead or go in different directions. But then we've had this wonderful injection of another family member, John Bishop [who plays Dan]. I was absolutely blown away that he wanted to come and be in Doctor Who with us. He came in with the biggest, most open-hearted attitude and has thrown himself in it, and it's been a right laugh.
Have you read your last scene as the Doctor?
[Pause] Yeah. [Laughs] I'm not telling you anything else!
Okay, but what was that experience like?
It was inevitable in the sense that I knew at some point I would read my final scene. But not until you do, do you appreciate what you're going to lose. I'm going to be awful. Whenever my last day is, I'm going to be awful, because I just love it so much, and I love everyone, and I love being a part of it. The wonderful thing [is] there are so many episodes [to] come out over an extended period. I'm [still] the Doctor for such a long time. I will be the Doctor for a long time, thank God.
Do you know what you're doing next? Are you aware there are plans afoot to make Attack the Block 2?
Of course I'm aware! [Laughs] I'm very aware. I will be fully stalking Joe Cornish for that [even if I'm] an SA [supporting artist] in the background. But I read it like everyone else and went, "Whaaat? Yes, how exciting, what a great idea." I don't know what I'm doing next, but this isn't over, and [publicity] goes on for a while after. So this is still very much my year. My head couldn't just go into something else yet. I'm rubbish at change. [Laughs]
Me too. Like I said, now I have to be nice to somebody else.
You need to embrace change a bit better if you're a Doctor Who fan!
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