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‘Doctor Who’ Star Jodie Whittaker Explains Why Playing the Doctor Is ‘Liberating’

The first female Doctor made her first appearance at Comic-Con.

Jodie Whittaker, who was announced last year as the new title character in BBC’s “Doctor Who” and appeared briefly in the finale of the most recent season, was joined by producers and fellow cast members in a Hall H panel on Thursday. Whittaker is the first woman to play the role, which has been portrayed by 12 previous actors.

“The thing about this role, which is why it is so amazing for any actor to play the role, is that essentially gender is irrelevant, and that’s completely liberating,” Whittaker said. “As a woman who is into a genre, and as just a woman, I’ve never approached a role as ‘Well, how would a woman do this?’ I’ve just done it from my perspective. The wonderful thing about playing the Doctor is that I’m playing an alien. So all those roles are irrelevant to the approach.”

In addition to executive producers Chris Chibnall and Matt Strevens, Whittaker was joined by Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole, who, with Bradley Walsh, play the Doctor’s new companions.

Referencing the diversity of the new cast, Whittaker said, “I was born in the ’80s, and when I was growing up and you looked up to people in films and shows doing things I wanted to do — I didn’t want to stand to the side giggling and clapping, I wanted to run about and jump about and do all those things — those people didn’t really look like me. I hope we as friends are people that young kids can look up to and think ‘Oh, yeah, I want to do that one day.'”

About Whittaker’s casting, Chibnall said, “I wrote three special scenes and Jodie and other people came in and read. She just walked into the room and she was the Doctor.”

Whittaker did have to audition twice. Her second audition was self-recorded while shooting another project in Glasgow. Whittaker read from two scenes that Chibnall sent her.

“I got a shoebox and filled it with iPhone wires and cables and I defused a bomb and I absolutely nailed it,” Whittaker said. But, she added, if the audition video ever leaks, she knows that it won’t come from her. Whittaker deleted the video immediately after sending it to Chibnall.

Whittaker also said that the day before her casting was announced, she spoke with David Tennant, who played the 10th Doctor and with whom she is personal friends. Chibnall called Tennant the day before the announcement and said, without revealing who had been cast, if the person playing the new Doctor could call him. Whittaker called 10 minutes later.

“My name popped up and he went ‘Whaaat? Why are you calling me?'” she said. She also spoke with prior Doctors Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi. “All I remember of it all is [them saying] this is the most amazing thing that can happen to you and there’s only a few of us who know how it feels.”

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