Matthew Robert Smith (born 28 October 1982 in Northampton, England) is a British actor from The Midlands. He aimed to be a professional footballer, but a back injury put an end to that, and he went into acting instead.
Smith appeared in the National Theatre production of The History Boys, which was also made into a film, but not with him in. On TV, he appeared as Jim Taylor in two adaptations of the Sally Lockhart novels, alongside Billie Piper in the title role. He also appeared alongside her in Secret Diary of a Call Girl, which should make for some... interesting fanvids in the years to come.
However, "Matt Smith (XI)", as he's listed on IMDb, was catapulted into the UK national consciousness on January 3, 2009, when the BBC announced that he would be playing the Eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who. Aged 26 when cast, he was at the time the youngest person to ever star in the role, taking the record from Fifth Doctor Peter Davison, who was cast at 29. He's actually still the youngest actor to date even chronologically speaking, as Peter Capaldi is several decades older, Jodie Whittaker has him beat by a few months, and Ncuti Gatwa was 29 when his casting was announced, matching Peter Davison but leaving Matt comfortably in the lead.note
Naturally, this was the fourth time he appeared on a show or TV special that Billie Piper had been on (and with the 50th anniversary special, the fourth time they'd worked together).
Shortly after the announcement, he was seen in the BBC2 three-part drama Moses Jones, a murder mystery set in London's Ugandan community, as DS Dan Twentyman.
Like Peter Davison, he succeeded a beloved, loud, eccentric, and unbelievably popular Doctor, was the youngest Doctor at the time of his entry onto the series, and was followed up by an actor who shared a name with a previous Doctor and had appeared on the show before. He did spectacularly well at it as well.
Extremely clumsy, as Moffat has related — just as Moffat was proposing to Piers Wenger (fellow executive producer) to run a book on how long Smith would take to break the sonic screwdriver prop, the prop man walked past...
Not much of a fan to begin with (both he and Karen Gillan grew up in the period between 1989 and 2005 when the show was off the air), he started watching the old stories and became a big fan of Patrick Troughton. (He called up Steven Moffat in the middle of the night to spend twenty minutes raving about "The Tomb of the Cybermen", then asked for a bow tie.) To get a feel for his character, he wrote Fan Fiction with the Doctor meeting Albert Einstein.
He has the same name as a presenter on ITV's football coverage, and over sixty cast and crew members (including eleven actors) according to IMDb.
Not well-known for his musical skills, he is nevertheless an accomplished keyboardist — and was, for one brief, shining moment, the third member of Orbital, actually playing the Doctor Who theme live at Glastonbury.
The more you get to know him, the more you get the feeling he had to tone it down to play the Doctor. It's one of the reasons why he and Karen Gillan get on so well: they're both utterly mad!
On 1 June 2013, over the sound of fangirls everywhere sobbing enough tears to double Britain's annual rainfall, he announced that he would be leaving the show at Christmas. "It's been an honour to play this part, to follow the legacy of brilliant actors, and helm the TARDIS for a spell with 'the ginger, the nose, and the impossible one'. But when ya gotta go, ya gotta go and Trenzalore calls. Thank you guys."
Smith took his last bow as the Doctor on 25 December 2013, handing the reins to Peter Capaldi as the curtain closed on the Eleventh Doctor's tenure and the clock struck Twelve.
Since leaving the show, Smith has been in a wide variety of projects. He received plenty of acclaim for playing a young Prince Phillip in The Crown and Prince Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon.
- In Bruges (2008) - Young Harry Watersnote
- Womb (2010) - Thomas
- Christopher and His Kind (2011) - Christopher Isherwood
- Lost River (2014) - Bully
- Terminator Genisys (2015) - The T-5000
- Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016) - Mr Collins
- Mapplethorpe (2018) - Robert Mapplethorpe
- Patient Zero (2018) - Morgan
- Charlie Says (2018) - Charles Manson
- Official Secrets (2019) - Martin Bright
- Last Night in Soho (2021) - Jack
- Morbius (2022) - Milo Morbiusnote
- The Ruby in the Smoke (2006) - Jim Taylor
- The Shadow in the North (2007) - Jim Taylor
- Party Animals (2007) - Danny Foster
- Secret Diary of a Call Girl (2007) - Tim
- The Street (2007) - Ian Hanley
- Moses Jones (2009) - DS Dan Twentyman
- Doctor Who (2010-2013, 2014) - The Eleventh Doctor
- The Sarah Jane Adventures (2010) - The Eleventh Doctor
- An Adventure in Space and Time (2013) - Himself
- The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot (2013) - Himself
- The Crown (2016-2017) - Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
- House of the Dragon (2022-) - Daemon Targaryen
- Doctor Who - The Eleventh Doctor
- The Adventure Games (2010-2011)
- Doctor Who: Evacuation Earth (2010)
- Doctor Who: Return to Earth (2010)
- Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock (2012)
- LEGO Dimensions (2015) (via archival audio)
Tropes associated with this actor's work include:
- Ability over Appearance: Steven Moffat said at one point that he was getting sick of younger Doctors, and was planning to cast an actor who was at least middle-aged. In walks Smith, who was only in his mid-20's at the time, and the rest is history. (Note that Smith was indeed followed up by an older Doctor— Peter Capaldi took over the role at 55, older than any other Doctor save John Hurt.)
- Actor Allusion: In the 2011 movie Christopher and His Kind, Matt Smith's character and his mother are having an argument about him returning to medical school. She asks him, "Don't you want to be a doctor?" It's a shame there is no behind-the-scenes outtakes on the DVD to see what Matt Smith's answer is.
- The Cast Showoff: Originally wanted to be a professional football (not the American kind) player, and had a fairly good chance of going pro, ending up as the captain of Leicester City's youth team. However, a back injury put an end to that, and instead, he went into acting. He gets to show off his football skills in the Doctor Who episode "The Lodger".
- Large Ham: Gives an ode to overacting in the episode "The Power of Three", and it is glorious. Turns it up to Eleven (Ha!) when playing the Cyber-Planner "Mr. Clever" persona in "Nightmare in Silver". Really gets to let loose in Morbius, and he received plaudits for his performance.
- Mr. Fanservice:
- There's more where this came from. In that movie, Christopher and His Kind, he has a very naked, very gay makeout session with a very hot man.
- Doing a strip tease. In character as the Doctor. For charity.
- There's a nude scene in "The Time of the Doctor", though it's played for laughs.
- A few nude and topless scenes as Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, in The Crown, where an impressively muscular physique is very much on show. Doubles as Truth in Television, as His Highness really was that chiselled as a younger man. He was once described as looking "like a viking god". Claire Foy joked in the initial press tour that "Matt Smith's bum" was the real star of the show. She's right, for it is, indeed, a very lovely bottom.
- Some more nude scenes as Daemon Targaryen in House of the Dragon, where said character is notorious for his whoring.
- Inasmuch as it contributed to the film's Memetic Mutation (and not entirely the good), his Showing Off the New Body in Morbius (2022) to the tune of Off the Meds' "EKSE" falls under here as well.
- Playing Against Type: What were his first two high-profile roles after leaving Doctor Who? Patrick Bateman in a stage adaptation of American Psycho, and freaking Skynet in Terminator Genisys! He followed this as Prince Phillip in the Netflix series The Crown.
- Promoted Fanboy: Was an Isherwood fan before getting to play him in Christopher and His Kind.
- Throw It In:
- The Big Damn Kiss between the Doctor and companion Rory? Wasn't scripted.
- Steven Moffat revealed that the Catchphrase "Come along, Pond" was purely Smith's invention. Apparently, Smith started calling her that during their very first photo shoot together before filming even began. When he heard it, he merely started adding it into the script.
- Tom Hanks Syndrome: His Star-Making Role, the Eleventh Doctor, had his fair share of serious moments but was generally one of the more comedic incarnations of the Time Lord. Most of Smith's post-Doctor Who roles have been decidedly more serious.
- Trolling Creator: Working with Steven Moffat has had this effect. Initially, Smith swore that the fish fingers he ate with custard were actual fish fingers; it was later revealed they were actually coconut breaded cakes. Remember kids, Rule One: The Doctor Lies.
- Wag the Director: A Tropes Are Tools example. Smith didn't feel happy in any of the outfits the Doctor Who crew put him in, and eventually insisted on trying on a bow tie and suspenders. Steven Moffat objected that an outfit like that would be more of a Doctor Who parody than anything else. As soon as Smith was in his chosen outfit, though, things fell into place and his Doctor's entire wardrobe was changed into the one we know and love about half a day before the deadline.
- What Could Have Been:
- Sherlock, but was rejected for being "too barmy". Steven Moffat, who created the show, saw his performance and offered the role of the Eleventh Doctor to him. He originally auditioned for
- He would have had a bigger role as the most advanced Terminator ever conceived in the planned sequels to Terminator Genisys that never got made.
- He was considered for various comic book movie roles before being cast as Milo in Morbius such as the Joker in Suicide Squad, Carlton Drake in Venom and Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
- He was the second choice for the part of Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them before the casting of Eddie Redmayne.
- He was reported as having been cast for a significant role in what would become The Rise of Skywalker, but he wasn't in the finished film and he later confirmed that his role was deleted during the film's Troubled Production (before filming began).