Matt Smith: From Doctor Who to Doctor Stockmann
Posted on 8 January 2024
In Ibsen’s play of power and the public opinion, Doctor Stockmann (Matt Smith), expects to be hailed a hero for bringing critical information of water pollution to light, a discovery that could potentially save countless lives. However, his claims are met with scepticism and righteous fury as the townspeople question his motives for demanding the closure of the lucrative baths, and soon his character and intentions are called into question.
Opening next month, it’s the first time in half a decade that the multi-award-winning actor will tread the boards in the West End, but it isn’t the first time that Smith will play a controversial figure.
Since his last theatrical run in Lungs with The Crown co-star Claire Foy, Smith has portrayed numerous divisive characters, both real and fictional, from the late American photographer, Mapplethorpe, in a film of the same name, to the dragon riding, power-hungry prince in Game of Thrones prequel House of the Dragon.
So, to tide us over until he makes his return to the stage in An Enemy of the People (29 days and counting) We’ve listed just some of our favourite Matt Smith performances, both on stage and off.
Matt Smith gained widespread recognition for his portrayal of the Eleventh Doctor in the long-running science fiction series. Bursting on to the nations screens as the youngest ever Doctor in the shows 50-year history, the 26-year-olds energetic and quirky performance quickly made him a fan favourite and had many young children covering their fish fingers in custard (If you’re curious, just don’t. Trust us). Witty, endearing, and totally timeless his portrayal of the lost Gallifreyan is one, for many, in which all others are compared.
A high-risk, half improvised, have devised, production, Anthony Neilson’s hilarious play was a far cry from the polished BBC dramas we were used to seeing Smith in. Swapping the Tardis for a turtleneck, Smith dressed in all black to portray the pretentious and self-involved director, Maxim, and his quest to find the ‘perfect light’ for his latest epic. Crude, spoilt and irresistibly useless, Maxim was a larger than life character (MAXIMum, if you will?) It was great to see Smith fully embrace the chaotic nature of clowning, using his gangly limbs to fling himself across the stage and into our hearts.
Mixing the personal and planetary, Lungs at the Old Vic was an instant sell out when it was first performed in 2019. In fact, the show was so successful that it was brought back in the midst of the pandemic! More than three months after the West End closed its doors, Smith and Foy resumed their roles for a socially distanced performance streamed live to a homebound audience on Zoom. Simply named ‘W’ Smith’s character deals with the moral issues that come with bringing a baby into an already overpopulated, and polluted, planet. The middle-class satire earnestly asks its audience “What kind of future do we want to create?” and hilariously tells you why that wouldn’t work.
In a stage adaptation of Bret Easton Ellis's novel, Smith took on the iconic role of Patrick Bateman, a character made famous by Christian Bale in the film adaptation, and absolutely killed it. Dangerously entertaining, Smith expertly flips from insane violence to methodical and robotic corporate shell, all whilst singing and dancing (it, amazingly, was a musical after all). Smith’s cool wit and murderous stare, made his legions of fans see him in a completely different light, and they liked it.
House of the Dragon
Another power-hungry and devious man determined to get what he wants. The little brother of the king, Daemon Targaryen is arrogant, ambitious, powerful, and bad-tempered (and those are a list of his good qualities…) The breakout star of House of the Dragon, Smith ditched his trademark bouncy brown hair for bleach blonde locks (and looked fabulous). Adding depth and nuance to his character, Smith’s improvisation on set led to some of the most heartbreaking scenes in the series, and his critically acclaimed performance cemented him as acting royalty.
Another royal, though this time set in reality (even if the family doesn’t always seem aligned with it). Smith embodies a man who struggles with the weight of being part of the most famous family in the world, whilst also juggling his own career and personal ambitions. Smiths’ portrayal of the late Prince Philip went beyond the caricature that many media outlets painted him as, bringing to the forefront the depths of the enigmatic and frustrating man. His performance was so authentic and personal, that Prince Harry referred to him as Grandad when the pair met at a polo game (naturally).
Tickets for An Enemy of the People are available now!
Playing for a strictly limited run, don’t miss your chance to see Matt Smith in his latest role.