Why Do Doctor Who Actors Including Matt Smith Make the Best On-Screen Baddies?

Short answer is talent. Matt Smith is an English actor who shot to fame in the UK aged 26 when he was cast by producer Steven Moffat as the Eleventh Doctor.

Recently the Seventh Doctor himself, Sylvester McCoy, starred opposite Game of Thrones own Maisie Williams in the horror film, The Owners. McCoy plays a doctor (Ha!) who at first glance appears like a sweet little old man, with an almost paternal attitude to the young characters he encounters. Yet even when he is tied to a chair and threatened with torture is like being on stage in the west end for all to see, you cannot escape the feeling he is somehow in control of the situation, and his apparent innocence belies a much darker truth.

For fans, it is not a film you can watch without sensing the ghost of McCoy’s Doctor, particularly the darker iteration of the character he has continued to play in the audio plays.

And finally, Peter Capaldi, the Twelfth Doctor, is returning to TV in a series written by ex-Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat, The Devil’s Hour, where he will be playing “a murderous obsessive”, and looks all kinds of dark and creepy in the trailers.

Going to the Dark Side

The lineage of Doctors contains a host of extra-curricular morally dubious roles. Not long after finishing his one and only season of Doctor Who, Christopher Eccleston played Malekith in Thor: The Dark World. Poor Eccleston joined the MCU to find himself delivering cod-Shakespearian dialogue with echoey voice modulation, like a C-list Stargate: SG-1 villain. Imagine if, instead of that, Thor: The Dark World had set Thor up against a working-class dark elf with a northern accent, coming at Asgard like an angry, super powered Mick Lynch. Yes, it would have been some serious typecasting for Eccleston at a time when he desperately did not want that, but he was never going to enjoy the MCU anyway, and wouldn’t his take on an Evil Ninth Doctor have made for a much better film?

Back to the other post-TARDIS Doctors. Jon Pertwee took a villainous turn in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, which means images exist of the Third Doctor in a Nazi uniform. Even Tom Baker turns up as “Zebad” in The Magic Roundabout Movie, giving possibly the hammiest performance of his life. Colin Baker, meanwhile, preceded his run in the TARDIS by playing the villain Bayban in Blake’s 7.

After leaving the TARDIS, it makes sense for an actor who has played the former Time Lord to go dark. After playing Every Child’s Best Imaginary Friend for a few years, it’s understandable that you might want to show a bit of range. But while these actors might want to leave the Doctor behind, the Doctor never fully leaves them.

Matt Smith has also discussed his mysterious role in Morbius and admitted that even he was confused about the identity and history of his character and recently shared why he ended up agreeing to play the infamous villain, Loxias Crown (a.k.a. Hunger) in Sony’s upcoming Spider-Man spinoff film, Morbius. Smith will be starring alongside Jared Leto, who has been cast as the main character, Dr. Michael Morbius.

Rather than Morbius fulfilling the traditional stereotypes of a superhero, it seems as though his character will resonate much more with audiences as an anti-hero. Leto will inevitably be going up against Smith’s Loxias Crown in the Spider-Man spinoff film, however, given that the lines of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ aren’t explicitly drawn in the sand, this leaves room for an element of surprise for fans and an even more complex dynamic between the two when they finally do face one another. While more seems to be known regarding Morbius’ duality in his persona, much is still hidden regarding how exactly the Crown will be portrayed in this film rendition. Going back to the original source, throughout the Morbius comic books series Crown is summarized as intentionally turning himself into a vampire while conducting various experiments on Morbius.

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Paul McDonald
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