What’s the story, moaning Rory? Interview with Doctor Who’s Arthur Darvill, by Nick Setchfield
So were you part of what Matt calls the barren generation that grew up without Doctor Who?
“Yeah, absolutely – which is very sad, I suppose. I did catch a lot of it later, and was always very aware of it, in a similar way to Matt, because we’re around the same age. I did watch a lot of the Tom Baker ones and some of the Sylvester McCoy ones. I have no idea where, but it was just one of those things that’s just there. It’s Doctor Who. You can’t ignore it.”
How does Rory take to life at the Doctor’s side?
“I don’t think Rory deals with things like this particularly well at the best of times. To be taken onto the TARDIS and be told we’re going to travel through time and space is pretty freaky. So it’s a lot for Rory to take in, and he spends most of the time trying not to pass out… It’s so mental that just to stand there and say, ‘I don’t know what’s going on – please help me!’ is possibly the only reaction that you can give. I mean, how do you react? A man turns up in a box and takes you away. Your girlfriend’s there, and she’s been there for ages… It’s pure shock.
“Rory’s always trying to prove to Amy that he can be a man and be exciting, but the Doctor is the most exciting person that exists. There’s a strange dynamic between the three of them because Amy’s been obssessed with the Doctor throughout the whole of her life. When Rory says, ‘You used to make me dress up as him,’ that’s true – she really did, and I think part of the reason that Rory becomes a nurse is that he’s the closest thing he can get to being a doctor.
“Up until now Rory’s wanted to fill that space in Amy’s life, and be that person to her, this mythical being. So the fact that he’s real, and the fact that Amy’s been travelling with him, means that there is jealousy, but it’s not an, ‘Oh no, Amy fancies the Doctor!’ It’s more like, ‘What am I to you now? Why would you want me now? Because this is far more exciting…’ So Rory really has to man up, and show his heroic side. But then there’s the other side of it, as well, which is that the Doctor keeps putting Amy in all these terrible situations, where her life’s at stake. And in Rory’s head that’s so wrong. He gets very, very angry about that, because he’d never put Amy in danger at all. He wants to keep her very safe.”
How does he feel about the Doctor personally?
“They really get on, which is odd. There’s also something that the Doctor brings out of Rory, which is this sense of adventure, which I think Rory never knew he had. They travel together and they go through a lot together, so it does bring them closer. The Doctor realises that Rory should be there. If Amy’s going on all these adventures then Rory should be too.”
You already knew Matt, right?
“Yeah, we worked together before, on a play called Swimming With Sharks with Christian Slater, which was a lot of fun. We always said we wanted to work together again, so this was an amazing opportunity. There’s no better place to work with a mate than on Doctor Who.”
Did you talk to him when he actually got the part?
“Yeah! I told him I wanted to buy a pencil-case with his face on! As a bit of a joke. But then the other day I did see a pencil case with his face on! Which was a bit bizarre. It’s been brilliant having a really good mate on such a crazy show as this, where you don’t really know what’s going to happen from one day to the next. I feel privileged every day. Steven’s written such a brilliant storyline – I was excited every time I read a script.”
We see Rory five years in the future in ‘Amy’s Choice’. How has he changed?
“I’m not going to give too much away, but Rory definitely has a ponytail five years in the future, and he’s really enjoying that! He’s a doctor, and they’ve moved slightly upmarket. They’re in Upper Leadworth and they’re settling down.”
You’re sworn to secrecy on your storyline. Does that make your social life a little awkward sometimes?
“I tend not to talk about it with my friends. It’s so hard not to give stuff away, so I just say ‘I’m not going to talk about anything.’ I actually don’t talk to my friends about work at all.”
How did your parents react when you get the job?
“They were so excited. They really were. I was at home in Birmingham with my parents when I found out I’d got the job. It’s one of those things – you can get a job as an actor and you can tell your parents and it’s like, ‘Oh, great, well done.’ But this was a bit more special. I had to tell them in a public place, so my mum wouldn’t scream! We went for a coffee. And my mum screamed. So that didn’t work…”
Do you know much about Amy and Rory’s backstory – how they met, for instance?
“They grew up together. They started as best friends. It’s one of those strange relationships. Obviously Amy’s a kiss-o-gram, and Rory’s kind of alright about it, as much as he’s never going to say that he isn’t. She’s the only person like that in Leadworth, and he can’t believe that they’re together. I think she brings out a much more adventurous side in him. Obviously they have the bond now of the Doctor, and she will have confided in him how she feels about all of that, because everyone else thought she was mad and was making it all up. Rory’s always been very supportive of her, because he’s completely in love with her.”
With all that “dressing up as the Doctor” business, is there a part of you that suspects that was brought into the bedroom?
“No comment! [laughs] You can make your own assumptions…”