I know, I know, these lists are everywhere. But before it’s too late, I’m jumping in the deep end with everybody else speculating on who will be the next Doctor in Doctor Who. Matt Smith will leave his role as the 11th incarnation in this year’s Christmas special. It should be sad news to me, considering the 11th Doctor was my first and remains my favorite… but I’m actually excited for a change. I’ll miss Matt Smith’s sense of humor, clumsiness, and those ridiculously intense speeches, but his performance will always be there, suspended in time to relive whenever I watch my favorite episodes again.
Even before the announcement was made about Smith leaving Doctor Who, I was hoping for a change of pace. For me, the 11th Doctor will always be attached to the Ponds; I’m just not getting the same chemistry between the Doctor and his new companion, Clara Oswald. A new actor in the role of the Doctor could be exactly what the show needs.
Before I even begin casting, let me throw out my honorable mention, Colin Morgan. I love Morgan from Merlin, but apparently he’s not interested in being the next Doctor, having already been on the show as a guest star. Adding him to this list for no reason hurts too much, so let’s move on from that…
And so, as we await the casting decision, here are my picks for the 12th Doctor!
12. Jamie Bell, 27
I’ve been a big fan of Jamie Bell for a long time. Like, since his very first film acting role in 2000’s Billy Elliot. He may not be available if he ends up starring in the TV series Turn, but I’d love to see him as the Doctor if that’s not set. What’s awesome about Bell is that even though he’s been nominated for a ton of “Young Actor” type awards, he’s never really played a traditional leading man, and he’s hardly a big name. As the Doctor, he could carry on Matt Smith’s energy, bringing a youthful swagger to the role while still reigning in the series’ darker, more dramatic moments.
11. Russell Tovey, 31
Oh, Russell Tovey. This guy is underrated. I first noticed him in the Sherlock episode “The Hounds of Baskerville,” where he stole the show for me. He can play funny, eager, curious, cautious, terrified, pained — and to top it all off, he has a way of drawing your gaze on screen that doesn’t have anything to do with traditional good looks. The fact that he is a relative unknown yet still has a long list of acting credits is interesting, and get this: Apparently, Doctor Who executive producer and lead writer Russell T. Davies suggested Tovey to replace David Tennant back in the day. Hmm…
10. Richard Coyle, 41
Richard Coyle is one of those actors who’s been in a ton of movies, yet he’s still not too well-known. He’s already worked with Steven Moffat on the British sitcom Coupling, and now he’s at a great age to play the Doctor — because he’s older than Matt Smith (for a change of pace), yet he still retains a boyish charisma. In his very long list of acting jobs, he’s proven that he can play the whole gamut of emotion, but personally, I would be most excited to see his quirky sense of humor and wide-eyed earnestness as the Doctor.
9. Paul Bettany, 42
He might be too big a name, but I can definitely picture Paul Bettany as the Doctor. He has a politeness that would make his Doctor totally different than Smith’s or Tennant’s… yet he also brings lot of humor to his roles, even in dramatic films like Master and Commander and A Beautiful Mind. I could see him being both witty and nerdy as the Doctor — a winning combination in my books.
8. Felicity Jones, 29
I am a huge Felicity Jones fan, and I think her recent performance in Like Crazy solidifies her acting talent. She’s able to pull off a graceful awkwardness that would be much sweeter and subtler than Matt Smith’s — and I think it’s perfect for the Doctor. I also think her youth and enthusiasm could be similar to the energy David Tennant brought to the show.
7. Alexander Siddig, 47
You guys know I’m obsessed with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, right? And one of my favorite characters on that show is Julian Bashir, played by Alexander Siddig. I think Siddig’s aura is quite similar to Paul Bettany’s — polished, intelligent, and charming — and he’s absolutely magnetic on screen. No matter how reserved or arrogant his characters are, they always have a sharp mind and wit bubbling beneath the surface. As the Doctor, I imagine Siddig being chivalrous and full of curiosity about everything, which would make his brand of nerdiness totally different than anyone else’s.
6. Rose Leslie, 26
She’s becoming a favorite actor of mine for her roles in Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones… and really, could you imagine how awesome it would be if Ygritte somehow revealed that she was really the Doctor? Okay, maybe that’s treading too far into crossover fanfiction, but while I watched Rose Leslie play Ygritte in GoT, I kept thinking what a fantastic Doctor that personality type would make. In her various roles, I have seen Leslie by turns quiet, confident, funny, and heartbroken, which already makes her an ideal choice for stepping into the Doctor’s shoes. Plus, her offbeat beauty and ginger hair give her a fantastic look for the role. A woman and a ginger in the same regeneration? I would dig it.
5. Amy Acker, 36
Sure, she’s American and a pretty big name in the Whedonverse, but it’s hard to think of any actor — male or female — who could take on the role of the Doctor with as much aplomb as Amy Acker would. She obviously has the acting chops for all kinds of scenes, but what I love most about her is the way she can seem both intelligent and scatter-brained at the same time. I imagine her bringing a fresh energy to Doctor Who, with a lot of curiosity, awkwardness, and calculation of every situation before plunging into the chaos with a final shrug. (Can you tell I’ve spent a lot of time imagining her in the role?)
4. Ben Whishaw, 32
Apparently, Ben Whishaw is already a leading fan pick for the 12th Doctor, and I’m totally on board with that. I’ve seen him in a lot of movies over the years but never paid loads of attention to him, because he has a way of sinking seamlessly into his roles. That’s a good thing. But then I saw him in Skyfall, where he played a very different type of character than what I was used to seeing with him, and I fell a little bit in love. I’ve seen him play a creative type as well as a total nerd, which together would make a perfect Doctor.
3. Chiwetel Ejiofor, 35
Chiwetel Ejiofor is another favorite among fans guessing who will play the 12th Doctor — and for good reason. This guy has major charisma and acting ability. I know him best from Serenity, in which he plays the villain… but I bet he can do jovial, too. He could be even more refined than Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor, which would be refreshing. I imagine Ejiofor’s Doctor as suave, dignified, and occasionally full of rage. I always like it when the Doctor lets his emotions show — his desperation and anger — which Matt Smith did really well. But I believe Ejiofor would do it on an even grander scale.
2. Lara Pulver, 32
Lara Pulver was riveting in her performance as Irene Adler in Sherlock — but that’s all I’ve seen of her. And that’s a great thing, because I like the idea of a relative unknown playing the Doctor. Pulver has a harsh elegance that would make her a very unique incarnation of the Doctor — one totally capable of dominating the spotlight. I could see her playing a Doctor who treats everything like a long, cold game of chess, but she’d bring plenty of wit to the role, too.
1. James Callis, 42
Okay. James Callis. If you need to know why he would be absolutely superb in Doctor Who, just watch a few of his episodes of Battlestar Galactica. (Somebody even put together a fake Doctor Who audition tape showing all of the traits and emotions he can act, which you can watch here.) Not only can I imagine him giving epic “I’m the Doctor” type speeches, I’ve seen him give them. He also has a sort of crackling, spontaneous intelligence. You know when the Doctor says something like, “I have absolutely no idea what to do,” goes all weird and funny… and then suddenly has a lightbulb moment? Callis could totally pull that off. I imagine him as a slightly desperate, manic Doctor with a sometimes awkward sense of humor and bouts of insecurity.
Maybe Callis is already too well-known to play the Doctor, but I would campaign for him if I could. He is hands-down my top choice for the 12th Doctor.