Dragon*Con 2012 Exclusive: Sylvester McCoy Talks Doctor Who And The Hobbit


This was my first year at Dragon*Con in Atlanta. Every year, over Labor Day Weekend, tens of thousands of people descend upon five hotels and partake in a huge display of nerdery. You have seas of cosplayers from every show, movie, or book you can imagine. It was a complete joy to attend, plus I got to chat with some very awesome people. Kicking off the Dragon*Con coverage is an interview I had with Seventh Doctor and upcoming wizard in Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, Sylvester McCoy. For the next few days, I’ll be posting a press conference with the Dynamic Duo of Burt Ward and Adam West as well as a surprising chat with Thanos creator Jim Starlin. This weekend we’ll wrap things up with a recap of all the events and goings on. Read on for McCoy’s words on all things Doctor Who and some new tidbits about his work in The Hobbit.


Thank you for talking with us today. Doctor Who is coming up on the 50th Anniversary. You talked a little bit in the panel earlier today that you didn’t really know a lot about it, but if you were to come back how would you like to do that? Would you like to be The Doctor or maybe take on another role?

I think I’d like to take on another role. I’d like to come back as a villain, a monster. I think it’d be good if I was so disguised that people wouldn’t recognize me through the story then suddenly at the end I’d expose myself… I don’t mean that literally, but you know what I mean.  Good fun.


Doctor Who has gotten so big, it’s always had a cult following, but it’s gotten so big in recent years. What do you think about how big of a behemoth Doctor Who has become recently?

I think it’s great. I mean the more people that see it the better really. It’s a great story; it’s a great wonderful long 50 year length story. I just think it’s wonderful. I use to worry that when it stopped for a while a new generation of young people wouldn’t have a Doctor Who, but now they all do have a Doctor Who and they’ve fallen in love with it and discovered the old Doctors, the 20th century Doctors as I’m part of the classic Doctor’s as they call us. They come up and it’s wonderful to see their excitement and their joy.


What do you think of Doctor Who today, now that matt smith has had two full seasons?

I think he’s great. When he first came along and they said he was going to have this young guy doing it, I thought oh no! You don’t want kind of a child playing Doctor Who, but this child is no child, he’s great.  He’s got a face that is absolutely astonishing. It’s old it’s young it’s mixed it’s everything. He’s so good at it.


One of the things I hear a lot is that people can see Patrick Troughton and yourself in Matt Smith’s portrayal. Do you think that’s a fair comparison?

I would be flattered to think that, you know, Patrick Troughton and you know I did kind of base my Doctor on him so that’s good. Yeah, I can see the Patrick Troughton in Matt as well.


In recent years with Doctor Who you have an almost Grimm Fairy Tale kind of feeling that your series did very well. Do you think that works well for Doctor Who? The kind of darker elements?

Yes, I think so in a way because children love, in a way, scary things. Originally Doctor Who was for children, in Britain anyway and it’s good to carry on that Grimm Fairy Tale kind of world.


You’ve also done the Doctor Who audio dramas. Did you ever think that you would still be actively playing the Doctor in 2012?

No, no never really. I’m delighted I am. I love doing the audio dramas. They’re really great and there are some great writers. When I was doing Doctor Who before, some of the top actors in Britain were queuing up to be in them because they got great curios from their children to be in Doctor Who and now the same thing is happening in the audios.


Switching gears a little, I know you can’t say much about The Hobbit but you’re playing Radagast the Brown. Can you say anything about the character did you…?

I can’t even tell you the color of his costume.  I mean you might be able to guess if you think of Saruman the White or Gandalf the Grey. Radagast the brown, but I’m not able to say what color the costume was.


When you were doing this, did you go to the books or rely mainly on the script?

I relied mainly on the script because in The Hobbit itself, Radagast is kind of off stage as it were. He is mentioned, he is talked about, but they’ve taken bits from Lord of the Rings where he was mentioned as well and also from The Similarion. They’ve taken bits and bobs from that and letters he wrote and created a bigger role for Radagast.


How long did your parts take? Have you finished filming?

No, I haven’t finished filming. I started last march. I was back and forward back and forward. I’ve been around the world 5 times back and forward between New Zealand and Britain. And there’s more to do next year.


Can you say if you will be in any number of the three movies?

Oh, I don’t know if I’m allowed to say anything about that. My agent hopes I am.


What’s it like working with Peter Jackson?

Oh, it’s great he’s lovely. I mean he’s a really down to earth smashing bloke. He’s not in any way Hollywood or grand. He’s just a good, good guy. Brilliant guy actually as well. He’s kind of when you first meet him you go up to him and say ‘excuse me can you tell me where the director is?’ He’s a very self-defacing guy and absolutely brilliant. He likes be in in control of everything and he knows what’s going on everywhere.  Just so sharp and a pleasure to work with.


I understand he’s a Doctor Who fan. Is it true he has your costume?

Yes. Yeah, he’s got my costume. It’s terrific really.


You worked with Ian Mckellen on King Leer. Did that help with your acting; did that make the scenes easier since I understand most of your scenes are with Gandalf?

Oh, how do you know this? Oh, spies. No, that’s not true. No,no there are other scenes. Anyway, it’s great working with Ian. I just worked with him now. For years, we did King Lear for I think a year and a half. We did it in Stratford then we toured the world. That’s where I met peter Jackson and Fran his wife in New Zealand while touring with King Lear. They got to know me and I think that’s why I got the part. God Bless King Lear and God bless Ian Mckellen.



As you finish up the Hobbit do you plan on doing more work in TV, movies, or stage acting?

Yeah, there are other things in the works really. I think I’d quiet like to focus more on film now. I’ve done a lot of theater. You have to be very young and fit, I think, for the theater.


Do you enjoy films more nowadays?

Yeah, I’d like to do more.


Final question, you recently joined twitter. How did that come about? Where you wanting to connect with fans more or something else?

Not quite. I like connecting with fans face to face. I think that’s obvious if you come to any of my panels. I want to get down in amongst them and chat with them and meet them and shake their hands. It was friend of mine that kind of talked me into doing it. I still have no idea how to get onto twitter. He phones me now and again and says ‘oh, you better say something.’ I say something and he puts it out. I have no idea, no idea how to do it or what it is. The only thing I know about twittering is *begins to make the most fantastical bird noises and chirps you can imagine*


It was an absolute pleasure to talk with Sylvester McCoy as a huge Doctor Who fan. He was a genuinely nice person to chat with and seemed very excited about The Hobbit. Because he said he still has filming to do on The Hobbit, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that he will be in more than one film even if it’s a smaller part in one film than the other. As for Doctor Who, I really hope that the classic Doctors are involved in some way. Moffat is a true Who fan so I know the 50th Anniversary is in safe hands. It would be really interesting if McCoy’s idea for a return was used. What do you think about his words on Who and The Hobbit?

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