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Matt Smith
Matt Smith Cannes 2014
Smith at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival
Matthew Robert Smith

(1982-10-28) 28 October 1982 (age 41)
Northampton, England, United Kingdom
EducationNorthampton School For Boys
University of East Anglia
Years active2003–present

Matthew Robert "Matt" Smith (born 28 October 1982)[1] is an English actor. He is best known for his role as the Eleventh Doctor in the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, for which he received a BAFTA Award nomination in 2011.[2]

Smith initially aspired to be a professional footballer, but spondylolysis forced him out of the sport.[3] After joining the National Youth Theatre and studying Drama and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, he became an actor in 2003, performing in plays like Murder in the Cathedral, Fresh Kills, The History Boys, and On the Shore of the Wide World in London theatres. Extending his repertoire into West End theatre, he has since performed in the stage adaptation of Swimming with Sharks with Christian Slater,[4] followed a year later by a critically acclaimed performance as Henry in That Face.[5]

Smith's first television role came in 2006 as Jim Taylor in the BBC adaptations of Philip Pullman's The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North, while his first major role in television came as Danny in the 2007 BBC series Party Animals. Smith, who was announced as the eleventh incarnation of the Doctor in January 2009, is the youngest person to play the character in the British television series.[6] He left the series at the end of the 2013 Christmas Day special, "The Time of the Doctor".[7] He portrayed both the physical embodiment and a holographic version of Skynet in Terminator Genisys (2015).[8][9] Since 2016, he portrays Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in Peter Morgan's Netflix biographical drama series The Crown, opposite Claire Foy as Elizabeth II.[10]

Early life[]

Smith was born and raised in Northampton, the son of David and Lynne Smith.[11] He attended Northampton School for Boys. He had planned to be a professional football player, having played for the youth teams of Northampton Town, Nottingham Forest, and Leicester City.[12] After a serious back injury ruined this career, his drama teacher introduced him to acting by signing him up as the tenth juror in an adaptation of Twelve Angry Men without his consent. Although he took part in the play, he refused to attend a drama festival for which his teacher had also signed him up, as he saw himself as a football player and did not view acting as socially acceptable.[13] His drama teacher persisted, and eventually persuaded him to join the National Youth Theatre in London.

After leaving school, Smith studied drama and creative writing at the University of East Anglia, graduating in 2005.[13][13][14] His first theatre roles as part of the National Youth Theatre were Thomas Becket in Murder in the Cathedral and Bassoon in The Master and Margarita. His role in the latter earned him an agent and his first professional jobs, Fresh Kills and On the Shore of the Wide World. His new professional roles led him to seek an agreement with his university so that he could graduate without attending lectures in his final year.[15]



Smith's first television role was as Jim Taylor in the BBC adaptations of the Sally Lockhart quartet books The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North.[16] His first major television role came in the television series Party Animals, a BBC television drama series about fictional parliamentary advisors and researchers in Westminster. In Party Animals, Smith portrays Danny Foster, a parliamentary researcher to Jo Porter (Raquel Cassidy), a Labour politician and junior Home Office minister. At 26 years old, Danny is described as an intelligent but timid "politics geek" who should have moved on from researching at his age. Within the series' narrative, he attempts to balance his affections for Kirsty MacKenzie (Andrea Riseborough), his intern, while trying to prevent Porter's imminent decline.[17]

In an interview in 2007, Smith discussed his character's motivations. He summarised Danny as having a romantic outlook of the political world while being cynical elsewhere. The character was drawn into politics by his father and his own political drive. He defended his character's age by characterising him as being loyal to Porter, instead of being incompetent. He talked about his character's emotional and intellectual maturity: emotionally, he lacks confidence around women—most notably seen with his unrequited love towards Kirsty—but Smith portrays Danny as a caring and sensitive but "wry, sarcastic, [and] witty" romantic; and intellectually, Danny is portrayed as attentive and possessing a strong work ethic.[18]

Doctor Who[]

File:Matt Smith and Karen Gillan at Salford (cropped).jpg

Smith with Karen Gillan promoting Series 5 of Doctor Who in March 2010.

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"The Doctor is a very special part, and it takes a very special actor to play him. You need to be old and young at the same time, a boffin and an action hero, a cheeky schoolboy and the wise old man of the universe. As soon as Matt walked through the door, and blew us away with a bold and brand new take on the Time Lord, we knew we had our man."

Executive producer Steven Moffat on Smith's casting.[19]

Smith was revealed as the Eleventh Doctor in the British science-fiction television series Doctor Who in January 2009[20] to replace David Tennant, who announced his departure in October 2008.[21] Smith was a relatively unknown actor compared to the actors then speculated about possibly taking on the role, who included Paterson Joseph, David Morrissey, Sean Pertwee, James Nesbitt, Russell Tovey, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Robert Carlyle, and Billie Piper.[22] Smith was first named as a possible successor less than a day before he was announced as the Eleventh Doctor, on edition of 3 January 2009 of BBC Breakfast, among the names speculated about.[23] His obscurity prompted the news headline "Doctor Who?", a riff on the show's title.[24][25]

File:Matt Smith (7606541206).jpg

Smith speaking at the San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2012.

Smith was one of the earliest actors to audition for the role, performing on the first day. The production team, consisting of the incoming producer, Steven Moffat, and BBC Wales Head of Drama and executive producer, Piers Wenger, immediately singled him out based on his performance.[20] Smith additionally auditioned for the role of John Watson in the Moffat-created Sherlock, undergoing auditions at the same time; he was unsuccessful, as Moffat believed his eccentric acting style was closer to Holmes, whose role had already been given to Benedict Cumberbatch.[26] At 26 years old, Smith was three years younger than Peter Davison was at the time of his casting as the Doctor in 1981, and younger than any other actor suggested for the role.[20] After three weeks of auditions, Moffat and Wenger agreed that it had "always been Matt" and approached him to accept the role.[20][27][28][29] The BBC were cautious about casting him because they felt that a 26-year-old could not play the Doctor adequately; Wenger shared the same sentiment but thought Smith had proven his acting quality in Party Animals, which Wenger thought highlighted Smith's "mercurial qualities".[19][20] Some fans of the show believed that Smith was inexperienced and too young for the role, while others supported him by citing his demonstrated acting ability.[30] For his performance in his first series, he was nominated in the Outstanding Drama Performance Category of the National Television Awards.[31] Smith is the first Doctor to be nominated for a BAFTA for Best Actor.

Smith has said of his character: "The Doctor is excited and fascinated by the tiniest of things. By everything. By every single thing. That's what's wonderful about him as a character. It's why children like him, I think. Because he doesn't dismiss anything. He's not cynical. He's open to every single facet of the universe." In June 2010, Smith appeared on stage with Orbital, and performed with them a version of the Doctor Who theme, at the Glastonbury Festival.[32] Smith hosted the Doctor Who Prom at the Royal Albert Hall on 24–25 July 2010.[33] On the morning of 26 May 2012, Smith carried the Olympic torch in Cardiff, an activity which was noted by Doctor Who fans for its resemblance to a 2006 episode of the show in which the Doctor carried the torch.[34] On 1 June 2013, the BBC announced that Smith would be leaving Doctor Who at the end of the 2013 Christmas special.[35]


Smith starred in the 2009 short film Together and the 2010 film Womb.[36] In February 2013, it was reported that Smith had signed up to appear in Ryan Gosling's directorial debut Lost River.[37] Smith's directorial debut, the short film Cargese, was aired on Sky Arts in May 2013.[38] Smith had a supporting role, as the embodiment of Skynet, in Terminator Genisys (2015);[39] he is set to have more screen time in the sixth and seventh films in the series.[40] On 20 November 2014, it was announced that Smith will star in the action-thriller film Patient Zero.[41]


During Smith's tenure in On the Shore of the Wide World, the play transferred to the Royal National Theatre in London. After finishing the play, he took on the role of Lockwood, a pupil in the Alan Bennett play The History Boys. After The History Boys, he would act in the teen play Burn/Chatroom/Citizenship and Swimming with Sharks; the latter being his West End début, with Christian Slater.[13][15] In 2007, Smith appeared as Henry in the critically acclaimed Polly Stenham play That Face at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in Chelsea. The play transferred to the Duke of York's Theatre in the West End in 2008 and became Smith's second role there. That Face focuses primarily upon alcohol and drug addiction in an upper-middle-class family after the paternal figure in the family leaves. As Henry, Smith portrayed an aspiring artist who left school to take care of his mother. To prepare for the role, the cast interviewed alcoholics and their families. Smith discussed his character's relationship with his mother in an interview with the Evening Standard.[13]

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The thing I find tricky to get my head round is why doesn't he just leave? An awful lot of it is codependency. [...] With Henry there's a real belief—or denial maybe—that he can change his mother. When she is finally pulled away from him to go to rehab, his identity collapses. His sacrifice has been for nothing.

— Matt Smith, 6 May 2008, "That face to watch", Evening Standard[13]

The entire cast of the play was nominated for the 2008 Laurence Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre,[42] and Smith won the Evening Standard's award for "best newcomer" for his role.[43] Upon its transfer to the West End, Smith's performance as Henry was highlighted as one of the positive aspects of the play by critics for the Evening Standard, Daily Express, The Guardian, and The Times.[44]

On 7 October 2013, it was announced Smith would portray Patrick Bateman in the musical adaption of American Psycho at London's Almeida Theatre. The show began its run in December 2013.[45]

Public image[]

In 2015, Smith was named one of GQ's 50 Best-Dressed British Men.[46]

Personal life[]

Smith is an atheist[47] and an avid supporter of Blackburn Rovers F.C.[48][49] He has cited his favourite band, Radiohead, as an inspiration.[50] His sister, Laura Jayne, was one of the dancers featured in the music video for Eric Prydz's song "Call on Me" (2004).[51]

Smith dated model Daisy Lowe for 18 months. They broke up in November 2011.[47][52] In 2015, it was confirmed that he is dating actress Lily James.[53]

In 2016, Smith reported to press he was threatened at gunpoint with a friend outside a Cape Town bar.[54] Smith was unharmed.



Year Title Role Notes
2009 Together Rob Short film
2010 Womb Thomas
2011 Christopher and His Kind Christopher Isherwood
2012 Bert and Dickie Bert Bushnell
2013 Cargese Short film; Director [55]
2014 Lost River Bully
2015 Terminator Genisys Skynet/Alex/The T-5000[56] Credited as Matthew Smith
2016 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Mr. Collins
2017 Patient Zero Morgan Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2006 The Ruby in the Smoke Jim Taylor
2007 The Shadow in the North Jim Taylor
2007 Party Animals Danny Foster
2007 Secret Diary of a Call Girl Tim 1 episode
2007 The Street Ian Hanley 2 episodes
2009 Moses Jones DS Dan Twentyman
2010–14 Doctor Who The Doctor Series 5–7, Series 8 (cameo)
2010 The Sarah Jane Adventures The Doctor 2-part episode: "Death of the Doctor"
2013 An Adventure in Space and Time Himself Cameo (uncredited)[citation needed]
2013 The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot Himself
2016–present The Crown Philip Mountbatten, Duke of Edinburgh Netflix series

Video games[]

Year Title Role
2010 Doctor Who: The Adventure Games The Doctor
2010 Doctor Who: Return to Earth The Doctor
2010 Doctor Who: Evacuation Earth The Doctor
2012 Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock The Doctor
2015 Lego Dimensions: Doctor Who Level Pack The Doctor (archival audio used)


Year Title Role Notes
2003 Murder in the Cathedral Thomas Becket National Youth Theatre
2004 The Master and Margarita Basoon Lyric Hammersmith
2004 Fresh Kills Arnold Royal Court Theatre Upstairs
2005 On the Shore of the Wide World Paul Danzinger Royal Exchange
Royal National Theatre
2005–06 The History Boys Lockwood Royal National Theatre
2006 Burn/Chatroom/Citizenship Tom/William/Gary Royal National Theatre
2007 That Face Henry Royal Court Theatre Upstairs
2007–08 Swimming with Sharks Guy Vaudeville Theatre
2008 That Face Henry Duke of York's Theatre
2013–14 American Psycho Patrick Bateman Almeida Theatre
2016 Unreachable Maxim[57] Royal Court Theatre

Awards and nominations[]

Year Award Category Work Result
2010 TV Quick Awards[citation needed] Best Actor Doctor Who Nominated
2011 SFX Awards Best Actor Doctor Who Won
2011 National Television Awards[citation needed] Outstanding Drama Performance: Male Doctor Who Nominated
2011 BAFTA TV Awards Best Actor Doctor Who Nominated
2011 TV Quick Awards Best Actor Doctor Who Nominated
2012 TV Quick Awards Best Actor Doctor Who Nominated
2012 SFX Awards[citation needed] Best Actor Doctor Who Won
2012 National Television Awards Outstanding Drama Performance: Male Doctor Who Won
2013 National Television Awards[citation needed] Outstanding Drama Performance: Male Doctor Who Nominated
2014 National Television Awards Drama Performance Doctor Who Won
2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series The Crown Nominated


  1. "Northampton School for Boys". 28 October 1982. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  2. Plunkett, John (26 April 2011). "Doctor Who's Matt Smith and E4's Misfits win Bafta nods". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  3. Smith confirmed the nature of his back injury during an appearance on the UK show Top Gear.
  4. "Entertainment | Who on earth is Matt Smith?". BBC News. 3 January 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2009.
  5. "That face to watch| Theatre". This is London. Retrieved 16 March 2009.
  6. "Press Office – Network TV Programme Information BBC Weeks 51/52 BBC ONE". BBC. Retrieved 30 April 2010.
  7. Doctor Who (1 July 2013). "BBC – Blogs – Doctor Who – Matt Smith announces he is to leave Doctor Who – UPDATED". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  8. "Terminator Genisys Matt Smith Character Explained". Slashfilm.
  9. "Will Terminator Genisys Even Get A Sequel?".
  10. "£100m Netflix series recreates royal wedding - Telegraph". 22 March 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  11. Irvine, Chris (6 January 2009). "Late bets on Matt Smith as Doctor Who came from home town". The Daily Telegraph.
  12. "Meet the Eleventh Doctor". Doctor Who microsite. BBC. 5 January 2009.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 "That face to watch". This is London. 6 May 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2009.
  14. "Doctor Who: The Eleventh Hour for UEA's Matt Smith". BBC. 6 April 2010.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Fresh Face: Matt Smith". 18 October 2007. Archived from the original on 30 March 2009. Retrieved 3 January 2009.
  16. "Matt Smith Is New Doctor Who". Empire Online. 3 January 2009. Retrieved 3 January 2009.
  17. "Danny Foster". Party Animals microsite. BBC. Retrieved 3 January 2009.
  18. "Matt Smith interview". BBC, Party Animals microsite. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  19. 19.0 19.1 "Matt Smith is the New Doctor". BBC Press Office. 3 January 2009. Retrieved 3 January 2009.
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 "The Eleventh Doctor". Doctor Who Confidential. Episode 15. 3 January 2009. BBC. BBC One. Unknown parameter |seriesno= ignored (|series-number= suggested) (help); Cite has empty unknown parameter: |episodelink= (help)
  21. "David Tennant quits as Doctor Who". BBC News. 29 October 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2009.
  22. "Doctor Who: The runners and the riders". BBC News. 3 January 2009. Retrieved 3 January 2009.
  23. Hilton, Matt (3 January 2009). "Odds on Who". The Doctor Who News Page. Outpost Gallifrey. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
  24. Goldsmith, Belinda (4 January 2009). "Dr Who? BBC chooses newcomer". Reuters. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
  25. Moreton, Cole (4 January 2009). "Doctor Who? Unknown is latest incarnation of Time Lord". London: The Independent. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
  26. French, Dan (4 February 2010). "Matt Smith rejected for BBC's 'Sherlock'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 4 February 2010.
  27. "Matt Smith to return for new Doctor Who series". BBC News. 8 July 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  28. "The Doctor and Jo Grant join CBBC's The Sarah Jane Adventures in special episodes written by Russell T Davies". BBC Press Office. 19 April 2010. Retrieved 19 April 2010.
  29. "Doctor Who star Matt Smith to appear in Sarah Jane Adventures". The Daily Telegraph. London. 19 April 2010.
  30. Moss, Lyndsay (5 January 2009). "Doctor who? Newcomer divides programme's fans". The Scotsman. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
  31. "National TV Awards winners". BBC News. 26 January 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  32. Lee, Ann (28 June 2010). "Doctor Who's Matt Smith performs with Orbital at Glastonbury". Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  33. "Doctor Who's day at the Proms". BBC News. 25 July 2010. Retrieved 25 July 2010.
  34. "Doctor Who's Matt Smith on Olympic torch run". BBC News Online. 26 May 2012. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
  35. Duffin, Claire (1 June 2013). "Matt Smith to quit Doctor Who after Christmas special". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 June 2013.
  36. Meza, Ed (9 February 2009). "Eva Green to star in "Womb"". Variety. Retrieved 12 March 2009.
  37. Wales, George. "Matt Smith to star in Ryan Gosling's How To Catch A Monster". Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  38. Hollingshead, Iain (30 May 2013). "Cargese, Sky Arts 1, review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 October 2013.
  39. Whitney Friedlander (2 May 2014). "'Doctor Who's' Matt Smith Joins 'Terminator' Reboot". Variety. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  40. Simon Reynolds (2 May 2014). "Doctor Who's Matt Smith cast in Terminator 5, role expands in sequels". Digital Spy. Retrieved 4 May 2014.
  41. Hall, Gina (20 November 2014). "'Doctor Who's' Matt Smith to Star in 'Patient Zero'". Retrieved 13 March 2015. “Doctor Who” alum Matt Smith will star in “Patient Zero,” a Sony spokesperson told TheWrap.
  42. "Olivier awards 2008: nominations in full". The Guardian. London. 7 February 2008. Retrieved 3 January 2009.
  43. "An Exclusive Chat With Matt Smith". BBC. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
  44. Rynn, Melissa; Jackson, Kate; et al. (12 May 2008). "Review Round-up: Stenham Saves West End Face". What's on Stage. Retrieved 18 April 2009.
  45. "Matt Smith to play Patrick Bateman in American Psycho musical". The Independent. 7 October 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013.
  46. "50 Best Dressed Men in Britain 2015". GQ. 5 January 2015.
  47. 47.0 47.1 Ferguson, Euan (3 December 2011). "Matt Smith interview: lord of misrule". The Guardian.
  48. "Doctor Who actor Matt Smith: Blackburn Rovers run by numpties". BBC Sport. 19 March 2013. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  49. "Football treat for Doctor Who star". MSN tv. 26 June 2010. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  50. "Matt Smith: The Official London Theatre Guide". Official London Theatre. 14 May 2008. Retrieved 14 March 2010.
  51. Davis, Johnny (25 October 2010). "Actor: Matt Smith – GQ Men Of The Year 2010". GQ.
  52. "Dumped by Who: Daisy Lowe and Matt Smith split up after actor calls time on their 18-month long relationship". Daily Mail. 25 November 2011.
  53. "Her Prince Charming! Lily James and Matt Smith make their red carpet debut as a couple at the Cinderella premiere in Milan". Mail Online.
  54. "Matt Smith reveals he was threatened at gunpoint in South Africa while filming The Crown".
  55. "Cargese directed by Doctor Who's Matt Smith".
  56. "Matt Smith's Terminator Genisys Character Explained".
  57. "Unreachable review – Matt Smith searches for the magic hour".

Further reading[]

  • Smith, Oli (2010). Doctor Who: The Eleventh Doctor: Matt Smith. London: BBC Children's Books. ISBN 978-1-4059-0687-6

External links[]


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