Justin Chatwin: “Doctor Who Was The Best Thing I Read All Year!”

Fresh from The Return of Doctor Mysterio, Justin Chatwin has shed some light on how he got into the part of Grant.

Grant is, of course, the secret identity of The Ghost, masked vigilante, but, as Lucy Fletcher (Charity Wakefield) says, “he’s super.” He can fly, has x-ray vision, has super-strength, and is possibly bulletproof. It depends – maybe his costume’s just bulletproof. Mind you, it looks like it’s made form plastic, so…

Justin recalls getting the role, and being especially impressed with the script:

“I got a letter sent to my agent from Ed [Bazalgette, director] and Peter [Bennett, producer] just saying that ‘we’re doing the Christmas Special of Doctor Who, here’s the script, and here’s the deal, and this is how long etc” – it’s how most scripts come about. I read it and I said, ‘This is the best thing I’ve read all year’. It was really funny and really entertaining and when an actor gets writing that’s as good as that, it’s really hard to say no. The calibre of acting is phenomenal – I’m a huge fan of Matt Lucas from Little Britain and I had seen Peter Capaldi’s work and he’s great. There’s a pace and specificity and a respect for writing, rehearsal and theatre that is more cared for here and it shows in the work.”

He goes on to lavish further praise for Steven Moffat:

“As long as we stuck close to what Steven wrote, word-for-word, it was perfect because he wrote something that flowed so well. So if I missed a word, it probably wouldn’t work. This was the first thing I’ve ever been on where I didn’t have an opinion about a line – it was line-for-line perfect. Every single line motivated the next and every single word had a meaning behind it. It was good subtext, it was really good storytelling, and when there’s good storytelling, actors are happy!”

Anyone who hates Moffat’s writing just cringed, but remember how respected Steven is in the industry, to have gotten such an important position. Indeed, I think most people have at least one story by Moffat in their Top 10.

So what appealed to Justin about playing Grant?

“I loved, loved, loved the old Batman, the old Superman, the old Spider-Man because there was so much story and it was more about relationships. The original Superman was this nerd – a nerd who couldn’t get the girl so he created this alter ego in order to be the guy that he couldn’t be and that’s the same with Grant and The Ghost. I really felt it would be fun to play a character that was very much like what Christopher Reeve did with Superman combined with a little bit of what Michael Keaton did in Batman.”

Yep, he references Christopher Reeve’s Superman. The allusions in The Return of Doctor Mysterio weren’t just overt – we actually saw a Superman comic, with the Doctor twiddling through and drawing glasses on Clark Kent.

Otherwise, though, Grant’s bedroom was decorated in Marvel characters like Spider-Man, Thor, and Captain America. Superman, meanwhile, is by DC Comics, as is Batman.

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