While "Doctor Who" may be one of the oldest television show's in history — having celebrated its 50th anniversary and all last year — the latest actor to play the shape-shifting alien Doctor, Peter Capaldi, had yet to grace the Comic-Con stage. Until today, that is. We caught up with Capaldi just before his big Hall H debut to talk about Comic-Con, fans, "Game of Thrones" connections and the dangers of sweets.
Being a Comic-Con virgin:
"It's great! I've never been in a room with 7,000 people, so I didn't know what it was going to be like," Capaldi says of Hall H debut. "But last night I said, 'Put yourself in my shoes,' I said to my minders at the BBC. 'This is an amazing experience. I want to go out in the street and just see what it's like and have some fun.' It was great seeing the street fill up with Imperial Stormtroopers and Obi Wan Kenobi and Spider-Men and all that stuff. And obviously I got to meet a lot of fans, and that was lovely. It's just such a carnival kind of atmosphere. It's a very nice experience. One of the great things about being Doctor Who or on any of these kinds of shows is you're in a very special position. I'm in a very privileged position. I often think, embrace this experience because it will also be over at some point."
Getting used to younger fans:
"It's weird," Capaldi says of suddenly having so many kids as fans. "But then in real life I'm a father, so I understand what kids have to go through. It's a responsibility. If you play a part that is meaningful to kids and young people, you don't want to disappoint them. When kids see me, when they shout, 'Doctor Who!' from the other side of the street or they come by and see me, you get all the affection that they have for the character, and it's a great experience. But you have to be mindful of the fact that you don't want to upset them. But then all of the previous Doctors have set great examples. Tom Baker, who was the Fourth Doctor, would never smoke where kids could see him — and that was back in the '70s."
The growing global popularity:
"I think it's something you have to come to understand that in some ways it's not the show that I grew up with, which was a fairly domestic, very British success that was always teetering on the edge," Capaldi says. "'Doctor Who' was always maybe going to be canceled. It hung on in there because lots of us loved it, and then we all grew up and became actors and producers and directors and brought it back. So to find it becoming this international success is quite bewildering. And because of the nature of the program, it does things that the old program never did. It's more romantic, it's more Freudian, it's better-looking — the sets don't wobble so much and the rubber monsters don't look so rubbery. So yes, it is different, but I think in its heart it's the same show, and that's what I love about it. But the scale of it can be a bit intimidating."