Internet Rumor: Johnny Depp as Doctor in ‘Doctor Who’ Film?

I’ve titled this one “Internet Rumor” because I don’t think it’s true (and hope it isn’t). However, Tor.com, a science fiction and fantasy website, is reporting that Johnny Depp will be portraying the Doctor in an upcoming American Doctor Who film. Written by Russell T. Davies.

God, I hope this isn’t true.

Tor.com claims to have found the news item on PubArticles.com, an “article mill” that took the article down shortly after its publication. There’s another notch against the news being true. Tor.com quotes the article, however, as saying:

Long-time producer of the television series Russell T. Davies reported that the reason he moved on from the show was due to the opportunity to transform the Doctor to the big screen. “Bringing the Who franchise to the theaters is a regeneration for the character beyond the usual one. A theatrical release has a greater range and can reach millions of more people than just the fans. There will be brand new concepts and the film will be just as adventurous, scary and humorous as the television programme. But none of us working the film will forget what makes the character great and interesting and the long-time fans will not be disappointed because yes, the Daleks make an appearance.

None of the quoted article mentions Johnny Depp, and since the article has been taken offline, it’s impossible to even confirm whether or not it was ever put up. Davies was quoted as saying that the Doctor will begin to take on the role of a real doctor, sending him “on a journey through time and space with a crew of volunteers treating humanity’s illnesses brought on by invading aliens. He cures the bubonic plague and then goes to Africa to fight Ebola.”

Again, grain of salt. Maybe an entire shaker of salt, considering that Davies should be busy working on the fourth season of Torchwood right about now, and that Johnny Depp has eighteen films in development, according to IMDb. As one user on Tor.com commented, “Hollywood is reaching Depp critical mass. Serious saturation. Second, yes, he can be quirky. And the Doctor is all up in the quirk. But I’m kind of tired of all the [Depp] quirks… It’s all starting to blur into Captain Mad Hatter Sparrow Scissor Wood.” The commenter went on to say that the last time American’s tried to do Doctor Who, we got the less-than-great made-for-TV movie.

And that’s really my whole point for writing this article — not because I have any belief that there’s much truth to it (though stranger things have happened) –but on the principle that it certainly, absolutely, shouldn’t happen.

The Doctor is a British concept, and it’s a currently-running franchise with brilliant actors and brilliant writers. Bringing in a film completely unrelated to the project would simply confuse newcomers and alienate fans. If anybody portrays the Doctor in a film, it should be Matt Smith, not a big-name American (well, Canadian) actor. I would not be opposed to a Who movie by any means: seeing the TARDIS finally get big recognition in America would be great. But I wouldn’t want to see that happen at the expense of the series — and right now, I can’t see any way that a Johnny Depp-starring film would do anything much to help.

What do you think about this?




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