Right before his latest Doctor Who episode “Robot of Sherwood” aired, writer/producer/actor Mark Gatiss invited Redditors to “Do what you will with me,” and so they did. Well, really they just asked plenty of questions and Gatiss gave back some interesting answers — including that he’s a Smiths fan and still has a bit of the gloomy, big-coat-wearing, morbid teenager in him. My kind of guy.
1. What’s the weirdest thing about you?
“Oh god. Well, you’d have to ask somebody else that, wouldn’t you? Other people might think I’m weird. I don’t thinK I’m weird. I used to have a very unhealthy preoccupation with death, but that’s sort of the morbid teen-ager in me. I don’t really have it anymore. I’m very squeamish these days. I once went on a tour of European graveyards, very goth. But the older I get, the further i want to sleep from the cemetery. That was probably quite weird, but that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re young really? Wear big coats and look gloomy all the time. I had a lovely fringe though, in those days, when I had hair. I miss that.”
2. Would you rather travel through time or space? And why?
“MMMM. That’s a good question.
I’d say… probably time, yes. And I’d go into the future. When I was a kid, I was always fascinated with history, so I would have always said the past. But I’d like to see the future now, to see if we make it, and to see what might happen in the future. That’s what I would like to do.”
3. What is your favourite(doesn’t have to be your own) Doctor Who episode and why?
“Ehm - Oooh, difficult! Changes all the time, I think. But probably my favourite from the old series is “The Green Death.” And from the new series, probably…tshtshtsh… probably “The Empty Child,” I think.”
4. a) What is your favorite book? Also, could you give us a little insight into your writing process? Do you just sit down and write it all out at once? A little bit at a time? A mix? I’d love to know!
“My favourite book is Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens. And my writing process is - I tend to do my best when I’m spending an entire day focused on it. Rather than doing little bits at a time. I find that works best. And sometimes, when I’m in the zone, there’s nothing like it…I can’t write with music or anything like that, and if I’m interrupted, it sort of breaks the data, so I need to sink into it, really.”
4. b) Is there a certain environment you need to write or can you write anywhere?
5. a) How/where did you meet Steven Moffat? And if I’m not being too rude, how did that grow into the writing partnership and strong friendship that you have today?
“Steve and I met at a party about… twenty years ago? And we used to get drunk, and try and pitch bringing back Doctor Who to any BBC executive we could find in the room. That was the basis of our friendship from the beginning! And then we discovered we also love Sherlock Holmes, and the rest is infamy!”
5. b) I love the idea of you and Steven getting drunk together early on in your friendship and trying to pitch bringing Doctor Who back to BBC executives…But now I’m curious: what’s your drink of choice?
“oooh! Well, actually, you know, your tastes change as you get older. I’m very fond of bitter now. I never could stand it, but I quite like it now. So I like Bitter now. It’s a beer. And I’ve always had a soft spot for Guinness, I have to say.”
6. How could you and the folks at BBC be so mean and suggest so many different theories on the Fall in ONE DAMN EPISODE?
?Em… because we are mean. Hahaha! Because we are mean. And secretly, you love it.” (Totally true — CD)
7. Important question. You have been sentenced to death for a crime you did not commit. What would you choose as your final meal?
“Have I?!??! No one told me!!! Beans on toast.”
8. Favorite band/type of music and whats a show you would like to work on be it cancelled finished or running ?
“Well, I’ve kind of - I’m forty-seven years old, so I’m hopelessly out of touch with anything happening now, and that’s how it should be. So most of my favourites are things from when I was a teen-ager really, I’m very fond of early 80’s electronic music, The Smiths, a lot of things from when I was about 16 years old, those are my favourites. I like a lot of classical music, and Rufus Wainwright, he’s a friend of mine and a genius I think, and i love to listen to his music. I like Jake Bugg. I bought his album originally because he’s so pretty and then I found that I liked the music as well!”
9. I love what you’ve done with Sherlock and Dr. Who. Your wit amazes me. Is there another childhood story or show you would love to refresh?
“Not really, no. I don’t really want to do old things, I want to do new things. the problem is it’s very hard to convince people to do new things, because if you have an existing brand or story, then half the battle is won because people know what it is. I’m very proud and happy to have been associated with Doctor Who and bringing back Sherlock in its current form, but in terms of other projects, I’d like to do new things, but it’s difficult to get them off the ground. There are stories and things I’d like to adapt, but not because they’ve been done before, but because they are favourites, really. Stay tuned.”
10. a) What do you enjoy more about Sherlock, writing it or acting in it?
What would Mycroft do if it was raining heavily but also really windy and his umbrella broke?
…Are you planning to be on stage again any time soon? I would love to see you perform again.
“I love doing both. The writing is very satisfying, because it takes an awfully long time, and it’s great to see something come to life. But I also love playing Mycroft, and it’s lovely to hang out with the rest of the cast.
That’s a very special umbrella. Never breaks.
Not soon but hopefully some time next year. And thank you.”
10. b) What do you think Mycroft’s guilty pleasure is? (Other than cake, of course.)
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, in relation to cake. His guilty pleasure is… hmmm… is telling criminals that they’ve served their time, and then changing his mind and putting them back in prison for the rest of their lives!”
10. c) How much Mycroft is in you and how much Mark is in Mycroft? If any, what are the similarities?
“I look like him. That’s a big similarity. Not a lot. I wish I was a millionth as clever as he is. I hope I’m a lot warmer, as a person, than he is. So not a lot, really. He has more hair than me, doesn’t he, at the moment, but that’s another story! In the original stories, Mycroft is very fat, so we’ve given him an ongoing paranoia about his weight, so I did a scene where I ran on a treadmill last year, and I’ve subsequently taken up running, which I enjoy tremendously. So there is that.”
11. What’s the wierdest thing that you have ever done/that’s happened to you?
“HMMMMMMM. Well, I once spent a summer in a haunted house. In Leeds. That was a very - I mean, I was very skeptical because I’ve always wanted to see a ghost, and I thought it wouldn’t really happen to me. I was raying in a friend’s room while he was away for the summer holidays, and it was just me, just me in a four-story Victorian house, in the attic room. And all kinds of odd little things started to happen. There was a very strong smell of tobacco smoke. The atmosphere was sort of charged, like a room had been full of people. And then one night I woke up and all the lights was on. And it was the middle of summer, and it was so cold, I could see my breath in the air. The next day I rang him up, and we were just generally chatting, and it was obviously something in my voice, and he said ‘are you okay?’ and I said ‘I just didn’t sleep very well’ And there was a pause, and he said ‘Did you see it yet?’ and there was a pause, and I said ‘What do you mean?’ and he said ‘I think it’s haunted,; and I said ‘Well, I think so too.’ Well, when he came back, we started asking around, people had lived in the house before. And all, separately, had said that room had a strange affect on them. And after I moved to Bristol, my friend Roger continued living there, and he had someone ‘round whom everybody said was a bit psychic (funny story this) and he hand’t filled them in at all. And then after dinner, this friend excused himself and said ‘May I have a look round the house?’ So he went up to the top of the house, he came back about 10 minutes later, and he asked if anything odd had happened there. And Roger kind of skirted around it, saying maybe. And this guy said that something happened in that room atop the house. He said there was someone waiting on the threshold of the room. And they’re still there. I haven’t been back there. It’s 97 Archery Road, in Leeds. I wonder if there’s somebody in that room now? Let’s find out.”
12. What do you love most about the new Doctor?
“I love his unpredictability: his slightly inhuman quality: I love his skinniness, his big hands, his mad eyes, and his charm.
And the fact that he is Peter Capaldi.”
13. What’s inspired the Robin Hood DW ep? Is it to further the ‘Men in Tights on TV’ agenda you’ve been pushing since TSOT?
“Yes! It is. Plus Steven just asked me to do the Robin Hood Doctor Who episode.”
14. Is there a doctor or companion that you particularly enjoyed writing for?
“I’ve enjoyed them all, I mean, they all presented a different challenge. I think I ended up writing four stories for Matt Smith, and I think I’m probably particularly fond of that partnership, except I suppose it was different each time, so it’s a politician’s answer, but I’m always looking forward to the next one - I did enjoy writing for Peter and Jenna, because I think Clara is particularly interesting this year, and I’ve always found it interesting when a Companion carries over Doctors, because you see the new Doctor through their eyes and you also see the Companion in a new light.”
15. How long did it take you to grow that wonderful beard for Game of Thrones?
“Not very long. About 3 weeks. I’m very hirsute. And I actually grew it a while ago, and then I was cutting it down to go on television, and accidentally shaved too much off, so I had to take the whole thing off and start again. But it only takes about 2,3 weeks. Shaving the rest of my face is a difficult task, because it grows and covers the whole of my face!
NO, of course not! Haha!”
16. Do you personally find the Daleks or the Weeping Angels to be scarier? And will there be any new Who monsters scarier than either of those?
“I’ve always loved the Daleks, I’ve never found them particularly scary. I think the Weeping Angels were terrifying. I always found the Cybermen were my favorites. And they always scared me a lot. I hope there will be lots of new monsters coming to rival them for scariness.”
17. Which actor who played The Doctor would you most like to see guest star on an episode of Sherlock?
If you knew you were writing an episode of Doctor Who for Benedict Cumberbatch to appear in, would he be the villain or on the side of The Doctor? How about Martin Freeman?
“Haha! Em… oh, I don’t know. Well Peter Davison has an uncredited cameo on Sherlock! He was the voice of the Planetarium in ‘The Great Game!’ Oh, I don’t know, I don’t know, I have to think… whichever one of them gives me the most money. Em… taps… well, Benedict is very good at playing goodies and baddies, and he’d probably prefer to play the baddie wouldn’t he? So just to make him suffer, I think I’d make him, possibly, dressed in a giant mouse costume. Just so no one knew it was him! Maybe he’s already been in it, hahaha! Oh! Martin, he’d love to be a baddie in Doctor Who. Maybe he could be Davros. So he could sit down, and he loves to sit down, so he’d have a wheelchair and be quite pleased about that.
18. Which League of Gentleman character was the most fun to play?“Well, Mickey, as I’ve said, actually. It was based on a real person, unbelievably, but it’s always great to have that amount of fun with makeup and you know, the teeth and wig and everything. It’s a rare privilege, really, to be able to disguise yourself that much, and have that much fun with it. He was always my favourite to do.”
19. Can you tell us about Wolf Hall? Absolutely adore the novel can’t wait for the series“Well, that’s what it is! It’s an adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s winning novels. And I play Stephen Gardiner in it, who is Thomas Cromwell’s arch-enemy. I had a lovely time making it over the summer. But I just sort of popped in and out over a period of many many many weeks. Mark Rylance (who plays Cromwell) is extraordinary, and he was in almost every day of the shoot. I’m very excited about it and can’t wait to see it.”
20. I’m hosting a dinner party; how is special stuff best prepared and served?“Raw. With basil on it.
Q: What do you consider your greatest achievement?“Meeting and marrying my husband.”
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