By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist February 6, 2013 at 8:40PM
Not so long ago, we were wondering why the actors who've starred in the recent BBC revival of "Doctor Who" haven't had more success transferring to the big screen. The first of the three to date, Christopher Eccleston, who only played the part for a season, has probably been the most high profile, thanks to villainous turns in "G.I. Joe Retaliation" and the upcoming "Thor: The Dark World," but they're the same kind of parts he was playing before in films like "Gone In 60 Seconds." David Tennant, a very different kind of doctor, had more promise, but his hopeful breakout, "Fright Night," flopped, and he's returned to British TV and UK comedy movies.
Matt Smith, the current (and we'd argue) best of the present-day incarnations of the traveler of time and space, has been pretty quiet out of the gate. In fairness, he's been pretty busy with the three seasons (a fourth begins in a few weeks) of the show that he's been playing the Doctor, but his only real big-screen credit to date came from "Womb," the little-seen drama co-starring Eva Green that was released the same year as he took over the TARDIS. But that's all about to change, as Smith's just landed a big role in a big movie directed by a very big actor.
Variety reports that Smith has joined "How To Catch A Monster," the directorial debut of Ryan Gosling, opposite Christina Hendricks, Ben Mendelsohn, Rob Zabrecky and, as reported yesterday, Gosling's girlfriend Eva Mendes. Smith's part, his first U.S. role, is described as the male lead, with Hendricks taking the central role of Billy, a single mother drawn into a dark world while her teenage son (not, presumably, Smith's part) discovers an underwater town.
So is Smith the monster of the title? A benevolent hero? Something in between? Either way, it's an exciting and unexpected choice -- Smith (who just made his own directorial debut on a short film for Sky in the UK) is a phenomenal actor, and we're glad that Gosling's seen the value in him. All around, it's a very ambitious first project as a helmer for the "Drive" star, and one that could either be a tremendous surprise or a huge folly. Production should get underway in the next few months, so we'll likely find out which it is on the festival circuit in 2014.