A Lothian-born bloke, David Tennant was born David John McDonald on 18 April 1971 in Scotland but had to adopt a screen name for guild reasons (the "Tennant" coming from the last name of Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys, whom David read about in Smash Hits magazine). Best known for The Tenth Doctor, Kilgrave in Jessica Jones, Alec Hardy in Broadchurch, Crowley in Good Omens, and the lead role in a Casanova miniseries. In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, he plays Barty Crouch Jr., who is played by Brendan Gleeson for most of the movie, but Tennant does get a few scenes to display his... "eager" face (his face is wonderfully expressive, as you can see in any of his TV or film work). Played "Dangerous Beans" in a BBC radio adaptation of the Discworld novel The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. Did manage to get a role as a very convincing pre-op trans barmaid on Rab C. Nesbitt. He auditioned several times for Taggart and failed each time.
In 2008, he 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 is also a Promoted Fanboy. A Doctor Who fan since childhood, he specifically went into acting to play the Doctor (in a strange case of irony, his first big role was in something called Takin' Over the Asylum) and has shown himself to be quite knowledgeable about the history of the series in interviews. He Jumped at the Call for bit parts when Scream of the Shalka and Big Finish Doctor Who were produced (and has since returned in the role as the Tenth Doctor for the latter). 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 Doctor are generally considered the two best Doctors by the fandom, and Tennant is now regularly winning "Best Doctor" polls.
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. When he initially announced his departure at the National Television Awards, the fangirl (and fanboy) screams shattered glass fifty miles away. He was replaced by Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor.
He 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), who not only played his 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? Right in one. David Tennant is now the ultimate Promoted Fanboy.) Sorry, ladies (and gentlemen).
Tennant was the host of Masterpiece Contemporary for one season before that title was discontinued and the show was divided into Masterpiece Classic and Masterpiece Mystery.
In 2013 he starred as Alec Hardy in the worldwide hit Broadchurch, and played the same role in the less-successful American remake, retitled Gracepoint. Meaning he was playing different versions of the same character concurrently in two different shows, on both sides of the Atlantic. His co-star in the UK show, Jodie Whittaker, was later cast as the Thirteenth Doctor, making it pretty Hilarious in Hindsight whenever they appear together.
In 2015 he starred in Jessica Jones as Kilgrave, a villain whose main traits are his mind control and use of Doctor-isms to give a compelling and creepy performance.
He 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 2011, he played showy vampire slayer Peter Vincent in the Fright Night (2011) remake, and romantically confused author James Neil Arber in The Decoy Bride. In 2012, he had a minor voice role as Professor Huyang, the lightsaber construction droid, in Star Wars: The Clone Wars, a role for which he won a Daytime Emmy.
In 2013, he played the role of DI Alec Hardy in Broadchurch and announced his return for Who for the 50th Anniversary Special. The next year he joined the American remake of Broadchurch, Gracepoint, in a different role but essentially the same character. He also hosted Comedy World Cup, a Panel Game based on comedy history and trivia. Tennant also voices the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles incarnation of Professor Honeycutt/The Fugitoid.
In December 2016, it was announced that he would be the new voice of Scrooge McDuck in the new DuckTales reboot, in the first time the character has been voiced by a real Scot (making his real last name another big piece of Hilarious in Hindsight).
In 2017, it was announced that Tennant will play Crowley in an adaptation of Good Omens, which was made available for streaming on Amazon Prime Video in 2019.
In 2019, he started a podcast, David Tennant Does a Podcast With..., in which he interviews various famous people he knows.
He reprised the role of the Tenth Doctor for the 50th anniversary special Day of the Doctor. He will also play the Fourteenth Doctor in 2023 for the 60th anniversary, reuniting him with former co-star Catherine Tate. This makes him the first actor to play the Doctor in two regenerations, three if the Meta-Crisis Doctor is counted separately.
His 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
- The Decoy Bride (2011) - James Arber
- Fright Night (2011) - Peter Vincent
- The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists (2012) - Charles Darwin
- Nativity 2: Danger in the Manger (2012) - Donald and Roderick Peterson
- What We Did on Our Holiday (2014) - Doug
- Postman Pat: The Movie (2014) - Wilf
- Mad To Be Normal - R. D. Laing
- Ferdinand (2017) - Angus
- Bad Samaritan (2018) - Cale Erendreich
- Chew (2018) - Mason Savoy
- Mary, Queen of Scots (2018) - John Knox
- The Loud House Movie (2021) - Angus
- The Amazing Maurice (2022) - Dangerous Beans
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 and The Fourteenth Doctor
- The Chatterley Affair (2006) - Richard Hoggart
- Single Father (2010) - Dave Tiler
- Tree Fu Tom (2012) - Twigs
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2012) - 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
- gen:LOCK (2019) - Dr. Rufus Weller and Caliban
- Good Omens (2019) - Crowley
- Good Omens 2 (Upcoming)
- Criminal (2019) - Edgar Fallon
- Deadwater Fell (2020) - Tom Kendrick
- Staged (2020) - David John Tennant
- Des (2020) - Dennis Nilsennote
- Around The World In Eighty Days (2021) - Phileas Fogg
- The Legend of Vox Machina (2022) - General Krieg, Brimscythe
- Inside Man (2022) as Harry
His Video Game Roles:
- 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 a daughter and a son, 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.
- 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 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: I WILL SUNDER YOUR BONES!
- 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. Hes 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:
- 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").
- Those Two Actors:
Tennant: ... for me, the thinking was Id like to do a play; Id 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.