Jenna Coleman Interview
The Doctor Who Team
Jenna Coleman first appeared in Doctor Who in September, 2012 and as companion Clara Oswald she’s stood up to Cybermen, sunk in a submarine and been caught in the epic Time War. But now she might just be facing her biggest challenge yet as she comes to terms with having a new Doctor… In this interview, Jenna Coleman talks about what’s in store for Clara, shooting the new series and, of course, Peter Capaldi…
Question: How is Clara feeling about having a new Doctor?
Jenna Coleman: For Clara it unbalances her and throws everything up in the air. She has gone from feeling safe - in moments of danger the Doctor would catch her - and thinking she had it all sussed, then suddenly this new guy has come along who she can’t quite access in the same way. He’s removed, he’s not as patient, and he’s much more alien and enigmatic. It’s really hard for her. Her best friend is a changed person, and it is a very difficult for her to accept that and move forward.
Q: What is Clara’s relationship like with the Doctor?
JC: It’s interesting because it’s a really changed dynamic. It’s very funny, there’s a lot of bickering. There’s no one that can wind her up as much as this Doctor can, because he’s just a loose cannon. He has this mad curiosity. It puts Clara out of her comfort zone and totally out of control, so we see the control freak in her really ramp up. What I think is really good about it is it’s an unlikely friendship. Even if she wanted to leave she can’t, because she’s bonded to him. He absolutely infuriates her. He annoys her. No one else can wind her up quite like it – but she just loves him. The friendship is strange and charming.
Q: Would you say the tone of the show has changed this year?
JC: It feels different. The pace is different, and the tone. It’s definitely darker, but again I think it’s because the Doctor is much more removed and not as accessible to humans. The show feels complex, and the Doctor is complicated. He’s this heroic figure but he can’t quite accept he’s a hero. It’s also the Doctor getting to know himself again as well as the audience, and Clara, getting to know him. There’s definitely this element of beginning again as there always is with a regeneration. He’s much more of a tough cookie, and there’s fierceness to it now I think. Peter is just so dynamic as well, he’s a firecracker. That is really interesting for Clara, because when they go on these adventures – yes it’s fun and it is full of adventure – but actually it is dangerous as well. The risk-taking is heightened.
Q: What is in store for Clara this series? Do we learn anything
new about her?
JC: You see a lot more of her home life. We see how she lives her life, and how she lives a double life. Spending time at home, being a teacher and living a normal life, and then very separately sneaking off and having these mad, wonderful, magical adventures with the Doctor. Actually, it is quite exhausting for her. She’s trying to keep a lid on it, and she arrives back at school soaking wet with seaweed on her shoulder for example, and she has to explain that. It’s a theme throughout the series, lying and why we lie, lying to protect someone you love. It’s this web of lies that she gets herself tangled in.
Q: How have you found working with Peter?
JC: It’s been a joy. He’s so funny and so generous. That’s one of the things from day one on the shoot. He was looking after me on his first day, which I just think is testament to the type of man he is. He is the epitome of grace. He is that kind of man that takes care of all of those around him. Despite all of that, he’s just so skilled and so brave and bold in the choices that he makes, and really clever and dynamic. What I love about him is that he’s so prepped and immersed in the job, but then at a moment’s notice he’s not afraid to abandon any plan and try something else. He’s a really fearless actor that’s very generous to those around him. We just have such a laugh as well. We’ve laughed the whole way through the series together.
Q: Did you find yourself showing Peter the ropes?
JC: There’s silly basic things you can do like “there’s the canteen”. Silly things like that. What I really wanted to do was be as open as possible to change from the start, and also just make him feel supported and that he could try anything. I’d be up for trying anything. It was about being totally open with each other and trying to get that relationship as soon as possible so that we could get the best out of it. Also to allow him to really be able to explore, because that’s the kind of actor he is. He’s very explorative on set as well, so just being as responsive as I could to that so he could explore and find his Doctor. It’s been amazing to watch actually, especially watching episode one, and to see where he’s got to now having just finished the series. It’s a massive growth.
Q: What can you tell us about Clara’s relationship with Danny?
JC: She meets a man called Danny Pink – a teacher - who’s charming and lovely. He’s that perfect boyfriend really and is very supportive, but he doesn’t know anything about this double life she lives. She tries to hide it from him whilst at the same time falling in love. She becomes very torn between the two. It’s almost as if she’s having an affair, without having an affair, but the lying becomes more and more. Basically she’s trying to manage the two, and have these two men in her life. It becomes quite a hurtful thing and quite a hard thing for her because she’s totally torn between the two, and trying to have both at once without being able to do it successfully.
Q: What’s it been like working with Sam Anderson?
JC: It’s been great. He’s a dream. I think he’s going to be really popular in the show. He’s very laid back, very cool and collected, and he plays the trumpet in-between takes as well on set! He’s lovely. I do feel sorry for his character though, as he’s got this girlfriend who is completely stressed every time she appears after coming back from being with the Doctor.
Jenna Coleman returns as Clara in Deep Breath on 23 August… See a trailer for the adventure now!