Doctor Who Q&A: Jenna-Louise Coleman On Playing New Companion Clara, Kissing Matt Smith!

By now, every “Doctor Who” fan knows that Jenna-Louise Coleman is the newest companion to the space and time travelling Doctor, played by British actor Matt Smith.

She appeared in the cult British show twice before – once, as the futuristic Oswin (who had been transformed into a Dalek in “The Asylum of the Daleks” episode), and as 18th century governess Clara (full name Clara Oswin Oswald) in the “Doctor Who” Christmas special – “The Snowmen.”

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While her characters were set in different times and, took different forms, both were witty, strong and knew how to really get under the Doctor’s skin.

So, will she become the Doctor’s love interest this season? Is that even possible with the Doctor married? As fans of the series know, the actors — and showrunner Steven Moffat – are notoriously tight lipped about anything to do with what’s coming up on “Doctor Who” (they like to keep viewers surprised). But, ahead of the show’s return on Saturday at 8/7c on BBC America, as part of Supernatural Saturday, sat down with Jenna-Louise, who shared just a few little hints about what’s ahead. She also talked about landing the role and her original audition with Matt. How excited are you for the launch of the second half of the season? There’s a big build up to this.

Jenna-Louise Coleman: I’m really excited. I saw [Episode] 1 at the London screening that we did last week. It just looks brilliant because it’s such a – from shooting the show there’s so much that happens afterwards from the CGI and the music and to make the episodes kind of as epic as they are so it’s gonna be great for me to sit there as a viewer and watch them as well.

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Access: What was your reaction when you sat there watching it?

Jenna-Louise: [I was able to] just enjoy all of the pieces of like the jigsaw coming together, and also you just realize how clever Steven Moffat is and the setup of the story that we have going through, arcing through the series, of the mystery of Clara Oswald and the Doctor trying to figure out who she is. It’s set up so brilliantly from everything that we’ve done so far through Steven. So, it’s exciting.

Access: It has to be said – the fans are talking about it – you have – your character anyway, has an incredible chemistry and flirtation and she’s already kissed the Doctor. He’s married of course.

Jenna-Louise: He is, but she doesn’t know that.

Access: And I’m not sure he does either. Can we expect some romance?

Jenna-Louise: I think – well — we start Series 7 and it’s very much like — we haven’t met this Clara before, so we start the story again. So, what happens in the Christmas episode doesn’t necessarily carry on through. I think there’s definitely always a certain level of kind of a frisson and a flirtation and kind of a form of attraction always between the Doctor and his companions… She’s pretty feisty — especially in the Christmas episode — she fancied the Doctor. She was intrigued by him and she was curious. She wanted to know more, but also kind of likes to make fun of him at the same time.

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Access Were you nervous to have to kiss Matt Smith [in the Christmas episode]?

Jenna-Louise: No, we had a brilliant day, because it was basically a game of ‘How many different reactions can we get to the Doctor being kissed.’ So there should be loads of outtakes I think, so it was kind of like the Doctor kind of enjoying it a bit, which has never been seen before and then in true kind of Doctor-style, him kind of flailing and not quite knowing what to do. So there should be a load of outtakes from that day.

Access: What was the reaction to the kiss, because people are just speculating about that wildly online right now.

Jenna-Louise: Really?

Access: Yes…

Jenna-Louise: I think that’s one thing you always want to know — is it going to be a romance story between the Doctor and the companion? But I think that…there’s so much more at work here and I kind of don’t want to give anything away going into the series, but it’s a new start again. It’s a completely — it’s a different character, it’s a different girl and we will all understand why.

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Access: So here’s the pull quote that’s in the trailers — Matt’s Smith’s Doctor says, ‘You’re the impossible girl. The only mystery worth solving.’ Is that the sort constant battle that men have trying to understand women or is it something else?

Jenna-Louise: (Laughs) Somebody else asked me this and it’s like is Steven trying to say that the Doctor doesn’t understand women. Maybe, to a point, that’s what it is.

Access: Steven, obviously, likes to keep secrets [about the show]. Does he give you advice on how to do it? Because it’s not easy to keep secrets.

Jenna-Louise: No, but I think Matt and Steven have gotten so good at it and so good at kind of saying a lot without giving anything away at all. So, working on… ‘Doctor Who’ – it’s a skill that you acquire.

Access: But what about family members because your granny is a big fan of the show?

Jenna-Louise: She is.

Access: Does she get special privileges because she is related to you?

Jenna-Louise: Well, I think she’s gonna come on set when we’re filming the 50th, which she’s very excited about. She’s gonna be patting Matt a lot. Matt’s her favorite Doctor.

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Access: How excited are you to be a part of it in the 50th?

Jenna-Louise: Amazing. I can’t wait. I’ve got a new draft of the script to read today. We’re shooting in 3-D.

Access: 3-D?

Jenna-Louise: Yeah, 3-D, so it’s gonna be awesome.

Access: Do you have to wear a special costume for that, have little balls and a green suit?

Jenna-Louise: (Laughs) I don’t know, but we often have to work with people who do, do that.

Access: I heard when you did your audition that you and Matt went away and made a scene together and you did it in front of producers. What was the scene you guys made up?

Jenna-Louise: Oh, no, we had the script. We had numerous different scripts, but basically, all the producers wanted it to kind of be quite informal and just see what happens between us, so they all left the room and just left me and Matt together to be like, ‘Hey, actor – actor, actor to actor let’s figure this out,’ and then they all came back in. So it was a bit like show and tell.

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Access: Is it a scene that actually exists in this season that people might be able to see?

Jenna-Louise: Well, we did a few Oswin scenes, which is from ‘The Asylum of the Daleks.’ So we did a couple of Oswin scenes and then bits that you can kind of – there’s bits that have kind of been fed into other parts, but I don’t think the exact scenes are there. We did a scene of Clara entering the Tardis for the first time which has never been used.

Access: When you auditioned for this, did you know you were auditioning for the companion?

Jenna-Louise: Yeah, I did. I did. But, we did have code names and my code name was ‘Men on Waves.’

Access: I’m sorry, what?

Jenna-Louise: (Laughs) ‘Men on Waves,’ which is an anagram, which I figured out later, for woman seven. And so when you’re going into the BBC, and you know you have all these code names and talking to your agent on the phone, it’s, ‘So, Men on Waves…’

“Doctor Who” returns March 30 at 8/7c on BBC America.

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