Because Matt ate, lived and breathed football. And he was very good at the game. - And you can tell by the looks of him playing football. If you're up-to-date with the series shooting, you may have noticed some pictures of Matt playing football. I wonder if the Moff wrote that episode specifically for Matt... it looks like that's the case. So good, in fact, that Leicester City signed him to their youth training scheme as a centre back.
Then, at 16, injury struck, and ended his football career. ‘I was devastated,’ he says.
‘There are those times you remember yourself crying and that was one of them. All I’d invested in was being a footballer. It was everything - my whole identity.’ - That must have been a real turning point in his life. It gives me warm feelings towards Matt. Poor lad.
Now, 11 years later, Matt has a new obsession - he is the latest in a long line of actors who have had the good fortune of taking on the role of Doctor Who. - Yeepee. Obsession and Doctor Who. Could that be any more perfect?
In fact, he is the 11th, and youngest, actor to play the Time Lord.
‘Drama was just something I did at school until I was injured,’ he says. ‘But then it twisted and transpired me onto a new path.’
Now Matt eats, lives and breathes time travel. - Pretty much as I do. No mad partying. No shenanigans. It turns out that an egg and cress sandwich and an episode of MasterChef is about as riotous as his life gets.
‘My life is my work,’ he says. ‘The evenings are spent learning lines and, because there’s such a huge amount, that’s it, really. But I don’t mind. I’m happier when I’m working intensely. I find it rewarding.' - I am so glad he is giving DW his best shot. Then again, I didn't expect anything less of him.
‘The Doctor is the cleverest man in the universe. He’s the most infinite man I’ve ever played. When I was researching him, I read a lot about Einstein. I thought, if there were to be someone on the planet who had a brain near the size of the Doctor’s, it’s probably him. At the moment, this is a great source of joy.’ - Indeed, but I'm sure all Whovians are thinking, 'the Doctor's is much bigger!'
Crikey, what about fun? ‘I go for a pint with my mates, but I don’t want to spend my life getting drunk. There’s no time for that.’
I tell him I’d read somewhere he was head-over-heels in love with a girl from Brazil. ‘She’s no longer my girlfriend,’ he says.
‘Work is my girlfriend at the moment. I suppose any extreme artistic personality has an intense relationship with work. That’s the joy, that’s the gift.’ - It may sound harsh, but it is the truth. I too find work much rewarding and consider it to be the closest to a relationship that I have atm.
Matt was encouraged to act by an inspirational teacher at Northampton School For Boys, who put his name down for the school play, an adaptation of the classic courtroom movie Twelve Angry Men without his knowledge.
He appeared as Juror Number 10, but when the teacher signed him up for a drama festival he failed to turn up.
‘Mr Hardingham was convinced I had what it took to be an actor and kept pushing me,’ says Matt. ‘But I didn’t turn up for the festival because I was a footballer and thought drama was a bit ridiculous. Then I got the injury.’ - That's a bit like that lad from 'Glee', innit?
He went on to study drama and creative writing at the University of East Anglia and, by his third year, had an agent. He was cast in the play Fresh Kills at London’s Royal Court Theatre before he’d even graduated, and then in The History Boys at the National Theatre. Before landing the part of the Doctor, he had a lead role in the BBC’s Party Animals, in which he played a parliamentary researcher. - Ooh, I haven't seen that one. Must watch it!
Widely regarded as one of the up-and-coming actors of his generation, I wonder if he hesitated when he was offered the part of the Doctor. Does he worry about trapping his career in a Tardis?
‘I suppose, in my head, I want to think I had reservations, but I didn’t - not for a second,’ he says. - Every 'Doctor' goes through that. Look at Eccleston!
‘How can you? It’s been the best part on British TV for 30-odd years. He’s a brilliant man and I get to play him every day.’ - Now we're all proud. :)
by Rebecca Hardy (Daily Mail)