Interview: Paul McGann | MCM EXPO BIRMINGHAM

PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

Paul McGann has an extremely impressive body of work that includes cult classic Withnail and I, Empire of The Sun and Alien 3. He’s also the Eighth Doctor and recently excited fans with an appearance in the mini-sode The Night of The Doctor. Starburst Magazine caught up with him whilst he was signing autographs at Birmingham MCM Comic Con to find out what he’s currently up to... 

Starburst: What draws you to conventions like MCM Comic Con?

Paul McGann: This one today is a bit of mad-house. There seems to have been a real spike in interest. I know that sounds very business man, but the interest has really shot up. It hasn’t stopped all day. The lines are long and the interest is high in the Eighth Doctor, no doubt since November.

There is a photo floating about of you as the Eighth Doctor in the current TARDIS console room. What’s the story behind that?

Oh, the photograph? They were pulling it down and we were shooting on the set next door to it. They told me that they were going to take it down in a couple of days so I asked one of the PA’s to take a picture of me in it. There’s no other thing there, be nice if there was something more substantial to it.

Are you planning on doing any more Big Finish?

Oh yeah, I‘ll be doing that until I drop. We’re doing some more in May, maybe even a continuation of Dark Eyes.

What’s happening with Minister of Chance?

We’re going to do more and more but it’s one of those; the model is that we can only do more when people pay for it, much like Big Finish. You buy it, we’ll make it.

You’re doing Chekov’s Three Sisters currently, how is it going?

Doing being the operative word, I’m certainly doing Chekov. It’s an adaptation by Anya Reiss, she’s a young playwright; 22 years old. I saw The Seagull that the same team did last year and I was knocked out by it. I feel they had really brought it up to date.We’re trying a similar trick with Three Sisters. We’re half-way through rehearsal so we’re all a little bit tense about it, but I think it’s going to work.

When you were shooting for The Five-ish Doctors did you know about any of the other plans for the Anniversary special?

When we were doing The Five-ish Doctors I knew about Night of The Doctor but I couldn’t tell the others. It’s kind of weird because the Five Doctors thing pre-dated it and the whole premise was that none of us were going to be asked to be in the fiftieth. So I was shooting this thing and thinking “I should really mention something” but I didn’t. Also; Tom Baker; around that time they found out that he was going to be in the special.

What’s the next big thing you’re doing?

I don’t know. In all the years I’ve worked I’ve never known even six weeks ahead what I’m going to be doing. Never, ever known. I know actors who are all “Next year I’m doing this and I’ve got this lined up”. I’ve never worked like that, I’m just used to it. When Steven Moffat rang for Night of The Doctor it was for two weeks from then. That’s how it usually is.

What advice do you have for anyone trying to break into acting right now?

Train. Train to do it. When it gets really tough and competitive and up and down if you train you’ll be confident. Part of the training is to learn never to take any of it personally and I mean the good stuff as well. I mean that. It’s an industry that’s not so much cruel as indifferent. That’s how you stay sane.

If you were stranded on a desert island and only had one book for company, what would it be?

That’s a very hard question. They are so many books, too many to mention. In Dublin I saw this small book, it’s a fragment of Joyce’s Finnegan's Wake; Anna Livia Plurabelle, that’s what I’d take.

Simpsons or Futurama?

Simpsons

Midwives or Doctors?
Midwives because it’s my sister-in-law who writes it. I’ll get battered if I say otherwise.

Truth or Beauty?
Always truth.

More information on MCM EXPO events, which features guests such as Paul McGann, can be found at www.mcmcomiccon.com. Paul McGann’s official twitter feed is @RealPaulMcGann

Words: Ed Fortune / Photos: Anne Davies

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