Interview: Daphne Ashbrook talks TV Movie & 50th
Patrick Kavanagh-Sproull interviews Daphne Ashbrook who played Eighth Doctor companion Grace Holloway.
Did working on The TV Movie impact on your career at all?
I think it did. There is a group of wonderful people out there that follow what I do.
What was working alongside the talented Paul McGann like? Are there any behind-the-scenes stories you could divulge? And we can’t talk about this subject without mentioning the kiss.
One thing I remember we did during the shoot in Vancouver, was take a night to go over to the make-up ladies home and watch Withnail and I together. She and I were both big fans of the movie and we talked Paul into watching it with us. That was a very fun evening “at the movies”!
Paul was fantastic to work with. We got along swimmingly from the start, and we worked well together. It really felt like something of a dance. In comedic moments, much of the time, there is a rhythm to the dialogue, and we just fell into it. I always felt like he had my back, and I had his. It just worked.
Regarding the kiss: I thought the first two in the park were a lot of fun. I loved the silliness of that moment, and the spontaneity of it. Kept things humming! And, of course, the controversial kiss at the end of the movie…what can I say. I thought it was sweet, and appropriate. But of course, I didn’t know the history of Doctor Who so I was just working off the script, but after having gone through so much; battling the Master, being possessed, dying and coming back to life, and of course saving the world together, a kiss goodbye seemed appropriate. It was a chaste kiss, I must say. Bitter sweet. I think we started something…the Doctor kisses frequently these days.
The TV Movie is incredibly divisive amongst Doctor Who fans, looking back at it now, are you happy with it?
Absolutely. I think that Philip Segal, et al, really achieved something of a miracle in a way. Not to be too dramatic about it…but when you look at what it took for Philip to get it done; seven years of fighting to bring Doctor Who back, with all of the hurdles and set-backs and he never gave up, all because he was such a huge Doctor Who fan. And then to have to serve so many masters (no pun intended)…America being one. The show had to introduce Doctor Who to a large audience, (the majority 30 years behind), from a different culture, and at the same time entertain the enormous audience that had lived with Doctor Who for more than three decades. They had to tell a VERY complex story cohesively, while not boring the existing fans, and then tackle the tricky bit of turning toward the future. (All in about an hour and twenty minutes of screen time!). Truth is, I think they did an amazing job of introducing the Doctor, paying homage to the old series, respecting its past, and then launching Doctor Who into a new and more modern show, incorporating up-to-date special effects. It was beautifully shot, the cinematography was gorgeous, the story was clever, Paul was a wonderful Doctor, and all in all, I’m very proud of it.
I am always amazed at the divisiveness amongst Doctor Who fans. “the classic series vs. the new series”, “kiss vs. no kiss”, “Russell T. Davies vs. Steven Moffat”. The wonderful thing about Doctor Who, in my humble opinion, is that it is ever changing. That’s just built into it! That’s what keeps it alive. And as long as the “stewards” of the show have love and sincerity about the show and its future, I’m on board. Maybe it’s because I came a little late to the party, but the more I discover about the Doctor, old and new, the more I love him…and it.
Sometimes, I wonder what the response would have been by those who have problems with the movie, what would have been their response if the movie were completely British made. Cast and crew. I wonder sometimes if bringing Americans into it was just a bridge too far for some. I honesty don’t know.
And one more thing, Ha! (Will she ever shut up??) I’ve had the privilege of meeting many wonderful fans of Doctor Who, and they have all been fantastic and big fans of the movie. Another thing I love about Doctor Who are the people who are drawn to it. I can say with joy, that it’s exploding over here in America. So much fun to watch!
How have you taken to the fans? Have they been friendly?
I sort of answered that in the previous question. But I can add one thing; I was really nervous meeting fans in the beginning. But they have all been so wonderful. I look forward to meeting them again. I feel like I have friends all over the world now.
Now for the mandatory question, are you taking part in any of the 50th anniversary celebrations at the end of the year?
Honestly, I don’t know yet. Waiting to hear more. I really do hope so.
And finally, if you were asked to return as Grace Holloway in a physical role (you take part in Big Finish audios quite often), what would you say?
YES! I think Grace was a very interesting, strong and complex character. At the end of the movie she has lost her job, her relationship has ended, and her entire view of the world has been challenged to its core. I think it would be fascinating to see where she goes from there. We’ve only seen her the one time, and I believe there is plenty more to discover about her and the Doctor together. However, there is still a healthy exploration of Grace and the Eighth Doctor in the comic world. So, she at least lives on in that medium. I’d love to play Grace again. I miss her.
Daphne Ashbrook, thank you very much.