Timey-Wimey Cosplay: 11 questions from “11” to “11”
By Nathan Sterner
This Christmas we will tearfully say goodbye to the 11th Doctor, portrayed by the amazing Matt Smith. Starting in 2010, he picked up where David Tennant left off, and instantly convinced fans that he was the right man for the job. Through his introductory episode “The Eleventh Hour” we see him shed the raggedy remnants of 10’s pinstripe suit, for an outfit that can only be described as “cool”. From the floppy hair, to the braces, the tweed jacket and, of course, the bow-tie, 11 had a look that was distinctly his own. Half 27 year old hipster, half 70 year old professor the outfit perfectly defined the personality of Matt’s doctor, a impossibly old and tired alien with a dark past, with the face of a quirky youth. Through out the adventures of the Doctor, his look would change, finally resting on an outfit that included a very classy frock coat. But like every Doctor before him, Matt’s time is up, and will be replaced by Peter Capaldi in this years Christmas special.
Even though Matt Smith will be gone the 11th Doctor will live on with the numerous cosplayers donning their bow-tie and a fez at conventions across the globe. Some will raid their grandfather’s wardrobe, some will scour every thrift shop and the lucky few will shell out hundreds of dollars for the complete screen accurate outfits. I am among these many people, and over the past year and a half on a limited budget have recreated the different outfits Matt has worn over his tenure as the Doctor fairly successfully. I went to the hair salon with a picture of Matt and said “do this” to the stylist (it’s currently my favourite haircut to date). At conventions I hear the words “double take” and “spot on” when people take pictures of my costume. I can only wonder what they would say if they were ever to meet Matt Elliott. Matt Elliott is my personal cosplay hero. His 11th Doctor outfits are perfect. His hair is perfect. His movements are perfect. He looks just like Matt. He has taken his love for the character to the extreme and become an international success as the premiere Matt Smith/11th Doctor look-a-like. He’s done photo shoots, music videos, been to the set, met celebrities and many more amazing activities. His Facebook page has 30,420 likes and climbing. A picture himself and a David Tennant cosplayer was thought to be an image of filming of the 50th anniversary special. So when I say Matt Elliott is amazing, I have proof to back it up.
So when Legendarium asked me to do an email interview with Matt, I “fanboyed” hard. I had to be careful to also ask questions that I knew others wanted to have answered too. So I carefully chose 11 questions for, well, the obvious reason. And Matt was nice enough to take time out of his busy schedule to answer them. And he had brilliant answers. So here are 11 questions, from one 11th Doctor to another. Geronimo!
When did you first start watching Doctor Who? Where you a fan even before Matt Smith arrived?
Matt: I started watching when Christopher Eccleston was the Doctor, I wasn’t an avid fan but I’d try and catch it whenever I could.
What was your reaction to first seeing Matt Smith as the Doctor?
Matt: When he was first announced on the confidential episode I just thought ‘who is that? And ‘he has interesting hair!’, I never once thought he looked like me. I did instantly start getting messages from people though, asking me why I didn’t tell them I was the new Doctor.
How did you start making your costume and how did progress to where it is now?
Matt: At first I just looked at his costume with a very untrained eye and thought, tweed jacket, shirt, burgundy bow tie, braces, black jeans and black boots. So that’s what I went out and tried to get. Black jeans, shirt and boots I already had. The bow tie and braces I got from a local market. The difficult part was a tweed jacket, I had no idea where to get one so I just searched eBay and picked a jacket that was vaguely similar to Eleven’s and that would fit me. Turns out the jacket I bought looked green in certain lights, that was annoying. After returning from my first convention wearing the costume I instantly wanted to try to improve it. One of the most useful things to me was finding a blog dedicated to the Eleventh Doctor’s costume by Steve Ricks, I suddenly had access to an (what I considered) extremely in-depth guide for the Doctor’s whole wardrobe!
What was the first convention you wore it at and what was the reaction you received?
Matt: The first convention I wore the costume to was also my first ever convention, which was MCM Expo. It was absolutely amazing and ridiculous. I had no idea what to expect, I had only been inside the convention for about 15 seconds when I was asked for my first photo and after that it didn’t really stop all day!
When getting ready to go out to a convention or other outing as the Doctor what kind of prep do you do? As in hair, getting into character or anything else.
Matt: As most conventions/charity events involve arriving relatively early I try to do my hair the night before and pray to the hair gods that I’ve put enough hair spray in to make it last the night. This normally works, which also means I can sleep for a little bit longer. Apart from that I don’t really do any preparation, I think I’ve spent so much time at events now that doing the mannerisms come naturally to me as soon as I put the costume on, or at least I hope they do!
What has been the response of when you meet current and past cast members of the show? (Especially Matt himself)
Matt: Meeting Matt was amazing but slightly underwhelming at the same time, I only got to meet him through having my photo taken with him at a convention and it was all very rushed. When it was finally my turn he gave a big laugh, said hello and shook my hand, we posed and then that was it. All gone in a flash… When I met Karen Gillan she commented on how I looked a lot like Matt and then when I told her my name was also Matt she said ‘That’s freaky!’ My mind normally goes blank when meeting someone from the show, I can’t think of anything impressive to say so I shy away.
Best experience you’ve had during your work?
Matt: I’ve been so lucky with everything that has come from me doing my cosplay/lookalike work, I got to fly to the U.S to film a video with a brilliant parody group called Not Literally which was amazing, I’ve had the chance to meet a number of actors who have been in Doctor Who but I would say the best bit about it all is when a young boy or girl really thinks that I’m the Doctor and they are so unbelievably happy. I wish I’d had that experience as a child!
What are your plans for the 50th anniversary?
Matt: I have a couple of lookalike jobs booked for November but for the actual day itself I shall be attending the 50th anniversary convention in London. I’m extremely excited!
Do you have any plans to do any other costumes?
Matt: I’m currently planning on doing a costume from the cartoon show Adventure Time, I absolutely love that show and some of the characters in it are just brilliant, I really wish I could do the Ice King’s voice.
What do you think of Peter Capaldi?
Matt: I think he’s going to be completely different from Matt Smith, which I see as a good thing. I think it might be very strange at first but he also might bring something to the role that the majority of Doctor Who fans haven’t seen before. I still wish Matt Smith could have had one more full series without any breaks half way in though!
So there it is. Some of the stories and tips from the best. You can find Matt on Facebook. Best of luck to Matt Elliott in his continuing adventures as the Doctor.
Nathan Sterner is a cosplayer from Toronto, Ontario. He has been going to conventions since 2010. With an interest in all types of media, including film, comics and music, he continues to strive to learn more and more about geek culture. His two big interests are Doctor Who and DC superheroes, specifically Batman.