David Tennant (born David John McDonaldnote on 18 April 1971 in Scotland) is a Scottish actor.
A Lothian-born bloke, Tennant is probably best known for portraying the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who, later returning as the Fourteenth Doctor. Other famous roles of his include Kilgrave in Jessica Jones, Alec Hardy in Broadchurchnote , Crowley in Good Omens, and Barty Crouch Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the lattermost being a considerable display of his... "eager" face (his face is very expressive, as you can see in any of his TV or film work). He additionally played "Dangerous Beans" in a BBC radio adaptation of the Discworld novel The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, managed to get a role as a very convincing pre-op trans barmaid on Rab C. Nesbitt, and unsuccessfully auditioned several times for Taggart.
Tennant securing the role of the Doctor is of special note since he had been a fan of the series since childhood and specifically went into acting to play the role (in a strange case of irony, his first big role was in something called Takin' Over the Asylum). To this end, he has shown himself to be quite knowledgeable about the history of the series in interviews. He additionally signed on for bit parts when Scream of the Shalka and Big Finish Doctor Who were produced. Contrary to rumour, he did not audition for the role of the Ninth Doctor, but was working with Russell T Davies when the role became available and was asked to play the Tenth Doctor without auditioning. His Doctor and Tom Baker's Fourth Doctor are generally considered the two best and most iconic Doctors in the series' history by the fandom.
Contrary to an infamous question on The Million-Pound Drop, he's not the longest-running Doctor. That record still belongs to the seven-year run of Tom Baker, although how one counts the "Wilderness Years" makes this up for debate. He left Who after the 2009 specials, but returned for the series' 50th anniversary special, "The Day of the Doctor", in 2013. In 2022, it was announced that he would return again for specials in 2023 marking the series' 60th anniversary; previously thought to be appearing as the Tenth Doctor, it was eventually revealed that he would instead be the new fourteenth incarnation of the Doctor, reuniting him with former co-star Catherine Tate. This makes him the first actor in the main television series to play the Doctor in two separate regenerations, three if the Meta-Crisis Doctor is counted separately.note
In 2008, Tennant played Hamlet in the Great Performances production of Hamlet from the Royal Shakespeare Company alongside Patrick Stewart. The film adaptation can be viewed on PBS' website. In 2011, he played Benedick opposite Catherine Tate in a production of Much Ado About Nothing. In 2013-2014, he played Richard II for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Tennant married Georgia Moffett in December 2011 and has five children with her: Olive, Wilfred, Doris, Birdie, and Ty (Moffett's older son whom he also adopted). Moffett not only played Tennant's Opposite-Sex Clone in "The Doctor's Daughter" but is also ex-Doctor Peter Davison's real-life daughter. (And guess who inspired Tennant to go into acting?)
Tennant is a public supporter of the Labour Party, delivering a very scathing criticism of David Cameron in early 2010 as well as providing the voiceover for Labour's 2010 Election Broadcast, although he avoided political commentary during his tenure as the Doctor because he felt it was improper.
In 2019, he started a podcast, David Tennant Does a Podcast With..., in which he interviews various famous people he knows.
David Tennant's film roles:
- L.A. Without A Map (1998) - Richard
- Bright Young Things (2003) - Ginger Littlejohn
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) - Barty Crouch Jr.
- Free Jimmy (2006) - Hamish
- Recovery (2007)- Alan Hamilton
- Glorious 39 (2009) - Hector
- St. Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold (2009) - Lord Piers Pomfrey and Sir Piers Pomfrey
- How to Train Your Dragon (2010) - Spitelout (voice)
- The Decoy Bride (2011) - James Arber
- Fright Night (2011) - Peter Vincent
- The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (2012) - Charles Darwin (voice)
- Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger (2012) - Donald Peterson and Roderick Peterson
- What We Did on Our Holiday (2014) - Doug
- Postman Pat: The Movie (2014) - Wilf (voice)
- Mad To Be Normal - R. D. Laing
- Ferdinand (2017) - Angus (voice)
- Bad Samaritan (2018) - Cale Erendreich
- Chew (2018) - Mason Savoy
- Mary, Queen of Scots (2018) - John Knox
- The Loud House Movie (2021) - Angus (voice)
- The Amazing Maurice (2022) - Dangerous Beans (voice)
His TV roles:
- Rab C. Nesbitt (1993) - Davina
- Takin' Over the Asylum (1994) - Campbell Bain
- The Bill (1995) - Steve Clemens
- Blackpool (2004, 2006) - DI Peter Carlisle
- Casanova (2005) - Giacomo Casanova
- Secret Smile (2005) - Brendan Block
- Doctor Who (2005-2010, 2013, 2022-2023) - The Tenth Doctor, the Fourteenth Doctor, and the Not-Doctor.
- The Chatterley Affair (2006) - Richard Hoggart
- Single Father (2010) - Dave Tiler
- Tree Fu Tom (2012) - Twigs
- Star Wars as Huyang
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) - Professor Honeycutt/The Fugitoid
- Broadchurch (2013-2017) - DI Alec Hardy
- The Politician's Husband (2013) - Aiden Hoynes
- The Escape Artist (2013) - William Burton
- Gracepoint (2014) - Emmet Carver
- Jake And The Neverland Pirates (2014)- Evil genie
- Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (2015)- Igor the door
- Jessica Jones (2015): Kilgrave / Kevin Thompson
- DuckTales (2017) - Scrooge McDuck, 'Dirty' Dingus McDuck
- Final Space (2018) - The Lord Commander
- There She Goes (2018-2023) - Simon Yates
- gen:LOCK (2019) - Dr. Rufus Weller and Caliban
- Good Omens (2019) - Crowley
- Good Omens 2 (2023)
- Criminal (2019) - Edgar Fallon
- Deadwater Fell (2020) - Tom Kendrick
- Staged (2020) - David John Tennant
- Des (2020) - Dennis Nilsennote
- Around The World In 80 Days (2021) - Phileas Fogg
- The Legend of Vox Machina (2022) - General Krieg, Brimscythe
- Litvinenko (2022) - Alexander Litvinenko
- Inside Man (2022) - Harry
- Clone High (2023) - Himself
His video game roles:
- Just Cause 3 (2015) - The Propaganda Minister
- Call of Duty: WWII (2017) - Drostan Hynd
- ARK: Survival Evolved (2015) - Edmund Rockwell
- The Sandman (2020) (2021-): Loki
Tropes associated with this actor's works include:
- Actor Allusion: Referenced his most famous role in a Virgin Media advert, although it was swiftly pulled at the BBC's request. note
- Cast Incest: While playing the Doctor, he met (and is now married to) the actress who played the Doctor's daughter. And now they have four children, and he adopted her older son. As noted above, for bonus points Georgia Moffett is the real-life daughter of Fifth Doctor Peter Davison. (Start thinking too hard about how the Actor Allusion works out and you may wind up in My Own Grampa territory.)
- Celebrity Resemblance: With the right hair and glasses he looks eerily exactly like John Lennon, as played up in a scene from Good Omens.
- Cuteness Proximity: "I'm not big on pets, at all, traditionally," noted David on an episode of Doctor Who Confidential over footage of him playing with a kitten and subsequently refusing to put it down.
- Defictionalization: Due to the Tenth Doctor lighting the cauldron for the London 2012 Olympics in the episode "Fear Her", there were online petitions to have Tennant light it for real. (Such as this one.) The fans possibly did have something to do with a Doctor actually carrying the Olympic torch, but it was Matt Smith instead of David Tennant, and Smith only ran for one leg of it in Cardiff instead of actually lighting the flame in London. Also, the TARDIS was heard warping in during the opening ceremonies.
- Fake Russian: Litvinenko features Tennant, a Scottish actor, playing murdered Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko.
- I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: His Beatrice in 2011's Much Ado was Catherine Tate. This three years after she'd flown in the TARDIS with him as Donna Noble. This was neither the first nor the last time he and Tate would reunite to act opposite each other.
- Large Ham:
- As the Doctor on Doctor Who: THE LAWS OF TIME ARE HIS! AND THEY WILL OBEY HIM!
- As Barty Crouch, Jr. in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: GET YOUR FILTHY HANDS OFF HIM, YOU PATHETIC LITTLE MEN! HELLO FATHER! And later, HE'LL SHOW YOU HIS IF YOU SHOW HIM YOURS! HE'LL BE WELCOMED BACK LIKE A HERO!
- As Kilgrave on Jessica Jones: HE WANTS CAKE! CHOCOLATE, WITH STRAWBERRIES ON TOP!
- As Alec Hardy on Broadchurch: FOR GOD'S SAKE! BLOODY TWITTAH!
- As John Knox in Mary, Queen of Scots: There is a SCOURGE over this land..a Woman. With a Crown! Also — The queen is a SERVANT OF SATAN. She is a FORNICATOR! A WHORE of Bablyon who defies the sanctity of marriage!!
- As Crowley in Good Omens: And you know what's worse? When it's all over, you've got to deal with ETERNITAAAAAAAAY!
- As Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing: He will be HORRIBLY IN LOVE WITH HER!!!
- As the mentally-deteriorating Propaganda Minister in Just Cause 3; Vive HIM! HIM! HIM! HIM! Medici can go STUFF ITSELF!
- As General Krieg and his true persona Brimscythe in The Legend of Vox Machina: HE WILL SUNDER YOUR BONES!
- On-Set Injury: His run starring as Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Company was cut short by a back injury that required surgery, and would go on to affect production of his final mainline appearances as the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who (see Reality Subtext below).
- Oral Fixation: Quite a few characters.
- The Doctor sometimes tastes suspicious stuff while studying it.
- Kilgrave licks Jessica's face with a moan in her nightmares.
- When Blackpool's DI Carlisle isn't speaking or singing, he's eating. When he is neither speaking nor eating, he's licking his fingers or sucking a spoon. If there's no sign of food or candy, he's holding a pen with his lips. If he is listening to another person, his mouth is opened and his tongue is touching his alveolar ridges.
- Brendan licks his fingers in a filthy manner while harassing Miranda.
- Barty's tongue can't lie still.
- Playing Against Type:
- As Barty Crouch Jr.
- In The Escape Artist, where he plays a mildly amoral defence barrister, that ends up going through a very brilliant case of He Who Fights Monsters.
- In Jessica Jones, Kilgrave is an utterly sadistic Mind Rapist, who is quite possibly the most disgusting villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His natural charm is used to advantage here to play up his Faux Affably Evil nature.
- As Dennis Nilsen in Des. He’s mostly very calm, controlled and relatively minimalist. And a serial killer, of course.
- To a lesser extent as Spitelout, who is a brutish Viking and obnoxious Stage Dad.
- Purely Aesthetic Glasses: Giving his incarnation of the Doctor these was his idea, in order to provide a hero for children with glasses (this trope was also originally called "Brainy Specs" after he described them as such in "Time Crash." Ironic, considering that he played an enemy of another hero with glasses).
- Even more ironic, he does wear glasses (or more commonly contacts) IRL. When he played Crowley, the yellow snake-eye contacts had to be made specially to his prescription.
- Promoted Fanboy: Let's count the ways.
- Tennant grew up a huge fan of the Doctor, and got into acting specifically to play him. From an interview from 1996:"I was convinced from the age of three that I wanted to be Doctor Who. Then, when I discovered that Doctor Who doesn't exist, I wanted to be the man who played him."
Clarkson: As a kid, is it true, you wanted to be Doctor Who?
- When he was Star in a Reasonably Priced Car, Jeremy Clarkson asked him about this. Later in the interview, Tennant said that when he 'grew up a bit' he realized how absurdly unlikely such a dream was to come true. It did come true, David.
Tennant: Didn't everyone? Who grew up in the 70s?
- Had his first Doctor Who roles in Big Finish and Scream of the Shalka.
- Was a big fan of Sarah Jane Smith; got to work with Elisabeth Sladen in "School Reunion" and "The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith", and was able to give Sarah Jane the "goodbye" from the Doctor she's been waiting decades for. Then was asked to write the foreword to Sladen's autobiography after her untimely death in 2011.
- Was a big fan of the Fifth Doctor, and got the chance to work with Peter Davison (as the Fifth Doctor) in the special "Time Crash", and then with Davison's daughter Georgia Moffett in "The Doctor's Daughter".
- His favorite doctor is "the one he grew up with", or the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker. Which he ultimately got to act alongside while filming The Day of The Doctor.
- He's married to Davison's daughter Georgia Moffett, not only is he Davison's fan, he's also his son-in-law. Someone give him the Promoted Fanboy crown, please.
- During his "Doctor Who" wrap-up video, he got to march alongside The Proclaimers, who performed the song taking place in the video, "I Will Walk 500 Miles".
- The three of them were labeled as "The Proclaimers and their Biggest Fan".
- He wrote an adorable foreword to the Complete Specials DVD, telling a short story where he went back in time to his younger self, and Older David has to disappoint Younger David by telling him that he never actually got to face the Zygons. Thanks to "The Day of the Doctor," that's not the case anymore.
- He's a big Star Wars fan, and played a role in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. During which he got into a pissing match with R2-D2.
- Was also a huge Marvel Comics fan, and joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Purple Man.
- So, in other words, he got to join the same show as his idol, got to costar with the daughter of his idol, got to act alongside his idol, and marry the daughter of his idol. He is to the average Promoted Fanboy as Vespasian was to the average Roman politician.
- Tennant grew up a huge fan of the Doctor, and got into acting specifically to play him. From an interview from 1996:
- Reality Subtext: During The End of Time Part 2, The Doctor complaining about the "WORST! RESCUE! EVER!" is even more justified when one considers that Tennant had just recovered from surgery to repair a back injury sustained during his run on Hamlet at the RSC in-between shooting his final seasons; the crew ended up using a dummy for the long shots of the Doctor going down the stairs to avoid the risk of re-injuring him, as well as camera tricks in the close-ups, but Tennant's visible discomfort is still readily apparent given he still ended up doing multiple takes of the sequence anyway. Bernard Cribbins jokes that they had to keep him away from Tennant, or else he'd have pushed him down the steps even faster.
- Romance on the Set: How he met both former girlfriend Sophia Myles ("The Girl in the Fireplace") and wife Georgia Moffett ("The Doctor's Daughter").
- There Are No Coincidences: David Tennant played the Tenth Doctor.
- Those Two Actors:
Tennant: ... for me, the thinking was “I’d like to do a play; I’d like to do Much Ado About Nothing; and it just so happens that the perfect Beatrice in my head is Catherine”.
- With Catherine Tate, also one of his closest friends. They've collaborated on several different projects, with the most notable outside Doctor Who being the 2011 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Much Ado About Nothing.
- More recently with Michael Sheen, also a good friend. Having first worked together on Bright Young Things (2003), Good Omens solidified them as a duo. They collaborated on the meta comedy Staged and often appear in interviews together.
- Taking the crown might be Nina Sosanya, with whom he has appeared in Casanova, Doctor Who ("Fear Her"), Good Omens, and Staged, among several other projects.
- What Could Have Been:
- He tried out for the part of Hannibal Lecter in Hannibal, but lost out to Mads Mikkelsen. Bryan Fuller was so impressed by his audition, however, that he stated he would like to cast him in a guest role on the show playing a psychopathic serial killer one day.
- He was approached to do one more series as the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who when he was considering his departure from the franchise. While he turned down the offer, he stated that he would've gladly stayed on with the knowledge that Steven Moffat was going to be the new executive producer. Had this happened, "The Eleventh Hour" would have started with Amy Pond meeting an injured Tenth Doctor, only for Amy to meet him years later unscathed. The season finale would have revealed a Timey-Wimey Ball showing that she had met Ten at the end of his life, on the brink of regeneration.
- He was considered for the role of the Riddler along with Johnny Depp, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Eddie Murphy in The Dark Knight Rises before Christopher Nolan decided to utilize Bane as the main antagonist instead.