10 possible Doctors for David Yates’ Doctor Who movie

While speculation rages about how much substance there is to talk of a big screen Doctor Who movie, we've decided to offer our casting services...

Settle down, now. Give your gnashing teeth a rest, and just admit that even if the prospect of Harry Potter director David Yates doing a big-screen reboot of Doctor Who drives you to distraction, you’ve still thought about it. Admit that you’ve considered who the Doctor would be in a big Hollywood-backed reboot.

Completely disregarding the argument about whether a new cinematic continuity is a good idea or not, any Whovian is going to have considered the idea before yesterday’s scoop. As we’re obviously all agreed that Christopher Walken should voice the Daleks (because that would be incredible), we’ve rounded up some of our favourites to take on the controls of the TARDIS.

There are a few caveats to the list, naturally. It wouldn’t be a proper Doctor Who geek list, otherwise. We haven’t included any of the stars whose names will inevitably be bandied around, such as Robert Downey Jr, Nicolas Cage or Johnny Depp. In particular, we’re sure to hear Depp’s name attached to this project from here to eternity, if previous rumours are anything to go by.

We’ve also discounted Rowan Atkinson, Richard E Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant, and even Joanna Lumley, given how they all had a bash at playing the Doctor in the Comic Relief special, The Curse Of Fatal Death. That doesn’t rule them out of the running, in the way that it might rule out any of the previous canon Doctors.

Ad – content continues below

Just like the casting of Matt Smith, and David Tennant before him, we’d suspect that the casting of a big-screen Doctor would be a little out of left-field, and so we hope that some of the choices here reflect that. Without further ado, here are ten potential Doctors.

Colin Firth

This is probably the smart-money choice. Aside from Firth’s huge international profile, coming off of two consecutive Oscar nominations for Best Actor, the latter of which scored him a win back in February, he’s actually interested in being involved in one way or another. While promoting The King’s Speech, he said in a Twitter interview: “I’d never rule out a part in Doctor Who or Torchwood – especially Doctor Who.”

If you held to the idea of the Doctor as the eternally British alien, then there are few Brits with a higher profile than Firth right now. Even aside from the star power and goodwill he’s accrued over the years, he’s a great actor, too. Hell, cast Geoffrey Rush as one of his companions and let the bromance of The King’s Speech continue through time and space!

Bill Nighy

Ad – content continues below

A long-held ‘could-be’ Doctor and fan-favourite, Bill Nighy is another British actor with a high profile on both sides of the pond. 2010’s Vincent And The Doctor marked a guest appearance in the TV series, and he was said to be one of the short-listed candidates for the role of the ninth Doctor, back in 2004.

We also shouldn’t discount the fact that he has a working relationship with David Yates that goes as far back as the excellent 2003 BBC series, State Of Play. As with the TV series, Nighy would be the ideal choice if they were looking for an older Doctor than the most recent incarnations.

Admittedly, we can’t see that happening in a big would-be franchise starter, unless a second-act regeneration gives us a younger Time Lord to put on the posters.

Alan Rickman

Ad – content continues below

If we could consider any actor who worked with Yates on the Harry Potter films to be a potential Doctor, the most intriguing possibility would surely be Alan Rickman.

More noted for his villainous roles, Rickman put in a solid eight films’ worth of work as Professor Severus Snape, with his story coming to catharsis in this summer’s Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2. But he also has a certain amount of geek cred for voicing Marvin in the 2005 version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, and playing Nimoy-analog Alexander Knox in Galaxy Quest. We’re very much reminded of his role as the Metatron in Dogma, when imagining his spin on the Doctor, world-weary, with sonorous tones and a cool outfit. Rickman deserves a big leading man project like this.Jason Isaacs

Hello to Jason Isaacs, another Potter alumnus who’s proving to be a particular favourite with DoG’s readers on Twitter.

Having played the unctuous Lucius Malfoy in five of the Harry Potter films, he has form for working with Yates, but he’s also famous for his underrated stab at the dual role of Captain Hook and Mr Darling, in the otherwise mediocre 2003 version of Peter Pan.

He seems more cool than eccentric, but you could imagine him playing an active Doctor in the vein of Jon Pertwee’s portrayal. His supporting roles in action films have shown him capable of the running, jumping and, if Abduction is anything to go by, beating the crap out of Taylor Lautner. With just a dab of Lucius Malfoy, we’d get a very traditionally English Doctor, too. Consider Mr Isaacs one of our very top choices.

Ad – content continues below

Rhys Ifans

As well as out-classing pretty much everything about Roland Emmerich’s recent conspiracy thesis, Anonymous, Ifans is on his way to major Hollywood cred by replacing Dylan Baker as Dr Curt Connors, aka the Lizard, in next summer’s reboot, The Amazing Spider-Man. Plus, he made a brief but memorable appearance in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1, as Xenophilius Lovegood.

It’s the strength of his work in Anonymous that really convinces us that he’d be good, and he’s one of those on the list who we couldn’t really measure against any of the TV Doctors – he seems more likely to create something brand new. And aside from any of this, he’s Welsh, and it’s about time we had a Welsh Doctor.

Hugh Laurie

Ad – content continues below

It might seem strange, to UK fans who don’t really watch US television all that much, to think that Hugh Laurie is now more famous for playing Dr Gregory House than for his roles in Blackadder, or his comedy partnership with Stephen Fry. It’s been hinted for a while that the eighth season of House will be its last – would Laurie be prepared to move from playing one doctor to The Doctor?

The specific allusions to Sherlock Holmes in the character of House might put him off taking up another iconic English character. But we can dream, and it’s really not hard to picture Laurie as a splendidly eccentric version of the Doctor.

Chiwetel Ejiofor

Whenever the lead role in Doctor Who is up for grabs in the TV series, we get the same tabloid reports wondering if they’re going to cast a female Doctor or a black Doctor, if only to drag out the same baseless column about prejudice once it turns out to be a white male.

Even with those arguments out of the way, we’d still love to see Chiwetel Ejiofor in the role. He’s one of Britain’s finest actors, and sadly, his big-screen presence seems to have been relegated to supporting roles in studio fare like 2012 and Salt.

Ad – content continues below

But he made his name on bringing peculiar characters to life, in films like Kinky Boots and Serenity. He’s possibly most distinctive in Serenity, as the cold-hearted Operative, a British gent who only seems to kill that which he finds distasteful. Provided he could tone down the violence, and doesn’t go around stabbing Cybermen, that character is the stuff from which great Doctors are made.

Andy Serkis

Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson released Steven Moffat from his contract on Tintin, in order for him to become the head writer on Doctor Who, and both professed themselves to be big fans of the series. In an ideal world, if this film has to be made, it would be great for one or both of them to get behind it as a producer, especially after how enjoyably well The Secret Of The Unicorn turned out.

And if that happened, the logical casting would be Andy Serkis. Probably better known for his performance capture work as Gollum, Caesar and Captain Haddock, Serkis is just as talented an actor when he actually shows his face. His Ian Dury in Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll was astonishing, and it’s another of those performances that we really think would suggest great things in the role of the Doctor.Sharlto Copley

Ad – content continues below

It’s only fair to consider that the film version might not cast a British actor, if David Yates intends to reboot the continuity of the series. Certain axioms must remain intact, like the police box TARDIS and the design of the Daleks, so let’s not rule out a non-British Doctor just yet. Especially not if that opens up the possibility of District 9‘s Sharlto Copley in the lead role.

Of all of those we’ve mentioned, Copley is the actor who typifies the idea of “a madman in a box” best. His hysterical performance as Wikus van der Merwe proved his incredible charisma, as well as his capacity to fling himself around and tangle with aliens. Plus, he claims to be able to do any accent in the world, (although his Howling Mad Murdock from The A-Team might say different) so he could always play British if that’s what they wanted.Sam Rockwell

Let’s commit some real heresy. What if the Doctor not only wasn’t British, but was cast as American? Because if the best American out there for the job would be Sam Rockwell, we might just be all for it. Then again, some geeks are still stung by his portrayal of Zaphod Beeblebrox in that Hitchhiker’s Guide movie, so we understand if you’re not warming to the notion.

Rockwell would be a great out-of-leftfield choice, because he’s not what the Doctor has come to be represented by in the 21st century version of the series. He’s under six feet tall, for starters. But in roles like Moon, he’s shown that he can carry a film on his own, and with his sporadic dancing and effortless charisma, he has a lot of screen presence. Call us crazy, but if they cast an American in the role, we’ll take him over another monotonously eccentric Johnny Depp performance any day.

And Finally…

Ad – content continues below

If we’re all thinking about casting the Doctor here, then surely you have some ideas too. Do you think Depp would be perfect after all? Or are there some other British movie stars we’ve missed out who you would like to see take over as the Time Lord? Leave your thoughts in the comments, below. And we’ll leave you with the face of one more suggestion, a man who would turn the world’s perception of Doctor Who entirely on its head…

Over to you, then…

See Also:

Check out the new and ever growing Doctor Who page at DoG, where we are marshalling all the Who content at the site, including interviews, DVD and episode reviews, lists, opinions and articles on our favourite time traveller...

Ad – content continues below