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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

wtf: this is what David Tennant left ‘Doctor Who’ for?

A horrifying headline from the Onion’s AV Club:

Doctor Who‘s David Tennant and Christopher Mintz-Plasse join Fright Night remake

David Tennant was starring in the greatest television show in the history of the universe, a role that was the culmination of a lifelong dream for him, and this is what he left it in favor of?

Tennant will take on the Peter Vincent role played by Roddy McDowall in the original—although in keeping with the update’s relocated plot, he won’t be playing a former actor fallen into the ignoble role of late-night horror-show host, but rather a Las Vegas magician whose act includes lots of horror-film imagery, and who’s been described as a “Criss Angel-type” with plenty of “bad-boy attitude” in Marti Noxon’s script.

Okay, that’s probably a part that Tennant could be amusing in. But… but… but… This is yet another pointless 80s remake. Does Tennant really want to be the best thing in a stupid throwaway movie? (Well, the movie reportedly will also feature Colin Farrell as a “charismatic vampire,” so that could be awesome, too. But still.)

*sob*

(Thanks to the many readers who forwarded this news.)



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  • That’s Hollywood for you. Tennant was expecting the Riddler role for the next Dark Knight movie and instead he gets fed to YET ANOTHER 80s REMAKE. Apparently there’s only so many times they’ll film versions of Hamlet…

    …I dread the day the Hammer Horror classics get discovered by bored Hollywood execs…

  • Marian

    You know, I went from telling someone I’d never see one of these vampire movies, to probably going with friends the day it comes out. Goddamnit so much, David Tennant! Why do past doctors always have slumps after Doctor Who! Why?

  • Magess

    I know it’s wrong, but I kinda hope he regrets it. Cause *I* regret it. I don’t actively wish Tennant ill so much as it makes me feel a bit smug in my “this is the worst decision you could have made and you’re going to miss being the Doctor” reaction as soon as I heard the news. How could anything ever be as awesome as that job?

    He’d make an interesting Riddler.

  • Well, it’s gotta to be better than St Trinian’s 2, hasn’t it?

  • Juliet

    He’s done like half a dozen other things since leaving Doctor Who (and remember he finished Who over a year ago), including a highly acclaimed Hamlet with the RSC, and a high profile BBC serious drama series. He is going to spend the rest of his career with people yelling, “You left Who for this?” every time he announces a role? Besides he didn’t leave Who for this or for a Hollywood career, but because he didn’t want to do the show anymore.

  • He did do the premiere episode of that badly reviewed Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) remake. If you didn’t mind him doing that with a clean conscience, it seems a bit fussy to start getting picky about his acting career now.

  • Tennant will take on the Peter Vincent role played by Roddy McDowall in the original—although in keeping with the update’s relocated plot, he won’t be playing a former actor fallen into the ignoble role of late-night horror-show host, but rather a Las Vegas magician whose act includes lots of horror-film imagery, and who’s been described as a “Criss Angel-type” with plenty of “bad-boy attitude” in Marti Noxon’s script.

    Wait! Marti Noxon is still writing scripts after the awfulness of her Point Pleasant series. Jane Espension I could understand because she has done some great work after she was done with Buffy–plus she has a neat blog–but Noxon apparently hit her peak when Joss Whedon was still in charge of that show. Then again Noxon did invent one of my favorite characters on the show (i.e. Anya) so I really shouldn’t diss her too much. Plus we officially have another link between Buffy and Doctor Who–for what little that’s worth…

  • “Why do past doctors always have slumps after Doctor Who! Why?”

    It’s very common for actors who are associated with popular TV shows to have slumps afterwards, because people see them and keep thinking, that’s the character from the TV show. I am hard pressed to think of any lead actors from TV shows that went on to equally successful post-TV show careers. Alan Alda and Patrick Stewart are the only two that come to mind.

    “Noxon did invent one of my favorite characters on the show (i.e. Anya)”

    Did she invent the demon Anya or the human Anya? Because the demon Anya originally was just a channel for the plot of a couple of episodes (a couple of their better ones, in my opinion), but the human Anya was a real character.

  • MaryAnn

    Why do past doctors always have slumps after Doctor Who! Why?

    Peter Davison didn’t slump. He’s been pretty much a fixture on British TV for the past 30 years. Though he was on his way to being that even before he appeared on *Doctor Who* (he was actually appearing in two other shows, sitcoms, at the same time that his first season of DW aired).

  • MaryAnn

    He’s done like half a dozen other things since leaving Doctor Who (and remember he finished Who over a year ago), including a highly acclaimed Hamlet with the RSC, and a high profile BBC serious drama series. He is going to spend the rest of his career with people yelling, “You left Who for this?” every time he announces a role? Besides he didn’t leave Who for this or for a Hollywood career, but because he didn’t want to do the show anymore.

    Well, if he wasn’t looking for a Hollywood career, what he is doing in this movie? Why did he agree to star in a sitcom so bad — *Rex Is Not Your Lawyer* — so bad that even an American network wouldn’t pick it up? :->

    I adore Tennant. And I will forgive him this if A) It’s actually not too bad, and/or B) He uses the fat paycheck this will get him to subsidize other, smarter, better work.

  • Ryan H

    He uses the fat paycheck this will get him to subsidize other, smarter, better work.

    Isn’t that the stereotypical British thespian model? Get known on the stage, cross over to film/TV and any time there isn’t a more interesting offer on the table do whatever pays the highest. After a year or two of making reams of cash take time off and do whatever theater or projects they really love.

    It’s what Sir Ian McKellen, Gary Oldman, Sir Patrick Stewart and dozens of other well known British actors have been doing for decades.

  • laheyla

    David Tennant didn’t leave Doctor Who for a Hollywood career. He left because it was time to leave. In fact, he left it a year and a half too late to capitalize on the height of his popularity. He should have departed with Rose and Donna so that the his era of the show could have had a more epic and fitting send-off. Instead, his era fizzled out in a series of melodramatic and largely forgettable specials. I don’t know who was ultimately responsible for the long slow death of Ten (RTD or the BBC) but they are partly to blame for the lackluster response to the NEW Doctor as well.

    Meanwhile, David is working steadily, which is all an actor can ask. I would rather not see him in this sort of movie, but I am happy to see him working in something other than Panto. It isn’t his fault that Hollywood doesn’t like skinny, geeky guys they’ve hardly heard of as leading men. Movie making is all about making back your investment and I can see how they wouldn’t take the chance on David, even given his undeniable talents. We can’t blame him for taking the work that is offered.

  • bracyman

    He uses the fat paycheck this will get him to subsidize other, smarter, better work.

    Was it John Cleese who said “I do movies like Charlie’s Angels to pay for movies about the migratory patterns of lemmings, where I will be paid in lemming food.”

  • Max

    I am looking forward to Tennant as Peter Vincent! But, I remember that I actually watched the episode of Magnum PI just to see Peter Davison’s guest role as a major domo…good times.

  • Well, it’s gotta to be better than St Trinian’s 2, hasn’t it?

    Not necessarily. Have you seen ‘GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra’? And I thought Chris Eccleston was above such trash.

  • Scott

    To be absolutely fair, four years is a pretty long time for any actor to stay in one role, dream role or not; he was bound to get bored of it eventually.

    And yeah, it’s yet another cheesy remake, but it might be fun and it might get him noticed for bigger and better stuff.

  • EndOfTime

    I agree. Tennant could do so much more. So! Much! More!!!

  • gavrielle

    Why did he agree to star in a sitcom so bad — *Rex Is Not Your Lawyer* — so bad that even an American network wouldn’t pick it up? :->

    This is NBC we’re talking about, right? The same network that passed on House and its unknown British star that is now a big hit on Fox?

    I think you mistake how things work in Hollywood. A failed pilot (and it was only a prototype, not a real episode and generally never meant to be transmitted) doesn’t mean it was trash, it means the network didn’t pick it up. Nothing more than that. NBC has been making some incredible errors in judgment over the past few years and their bizarre choices should not reflect on the quality of the idea or the script.

    In any case, from what I heard, the pilot didn’t test well with two audiences. One in Las Vegas and another in Florida. Possibly two of the worst places to test a smart, quirky comedy-drama about lawyers in the whole country. Because of this, NBC chose to wait, possibly for scripting tweaks and a reshoot of some scenes – because they never officially said they weren’t going to pick it up ever. In the meantime, Jerry O’Connell has another job, so they would definitely have to recast that part – again.

    And DT could do worse than make remakes of films that have cult classic status around the world. The problem, I think, is that nothing compares in our minds to the Doctor, so nearly everything is a step down. It isn’t, but then, I make no excuses for being a loyal Who fan.

  • Dustin

    Maybe he’s doing work like Fright Night and that pilot because he’s still not really known in America. He simply isn’t the household name he is in the UK. So Hollywood, so loath these days to take risks, isn’t going to headline a British star most Americans don’t know.

    Or maybe this really is typecasting in the works, and he’s found it hard to do “big” stuff since leaving the show. Then again, his Hamlet got reams of great press, so . . .

    So I’m really not sure, then, what the deal is. Brainlessly speculating out loud. Hell, maybe he just loved the original Fright Night, heard about the remake and thought, “I MUST be in this!”

  • pat

    I think David Tennant is an actor who follows the Michael Caine model. Caine once said he accepts everything anyone ever offers him and sometimes it’s very, very good. David Tennant and Catherine Tate alluded to this in one of their radio shows. They said their least favorite question was, “What interested you about the part?” It was offered, they said, that’s what interested them. Someone offered it to them. They may have been spoofing a bit but I bet it’s not far off.

  • Juliet

    He did one pilot six months after leaving Who, because he loved the script and the character (and Rex wasn’t a sitcom, btw), and is now more than a year after leaving doing his first American film. In the meantime he’s done multiple British films and TV series, and has more British projects lined up. He also bought a big house in London and a flat in Scotland. If he was intent on a Hollywood career he’d have been out there when Who finished, not spending most of his time in Scotland working on small British projects. He obviously likes to work, and seems to be happy to take anything decently written that’s offered.

  • Caz

    I’m a bit WTF about this move, too, but he’s a canny bloke and is well known for his workaholism; he’s hardly stopped since January (he did a LOAD of voice work, then filmed a new BBC drama and is now working on a British Rom-Com movie). As someone here says, he’s not the typical Hollywood leading man type – even though he’s gorgeous – so he’s not going to be the hero in the next Bruckheimer anytime soon. I’m sure he’s testing the water and trying to increase his profile a bit – thankfully, there are some people in the movie business (not many maybe, but there ARE some!) who are able to recognise outstanding talent and perhaps that’s what he’s waiting for.

  • RogerBW

    Patrick Stewart mentioned once that his Big Moment of Realisation came when he was shooting Trek Next Gen: he’d just been paid more for a coffee-break than for his entire Shakespearean acting career.

    Michael Caine on Jaws 3 (I think it was): “I haven’t seen it, but I’ve seen the house it paid for and I like that a lot.”

  • Alice

    I was concerned about Fright Night too, but it is a Dreamworks production and it can’t be bad to be within the notice of Steven Spielberg.

    He will be great in the film, get a bunch of critical raves and get a lot of other work from it. At the same time, he’s doing Decoy Bride which will show his range.

    Talent like his will not be ignored even in Hollywood.

  • RogerBW

    I was concerned about Fright Night too, but it is a Dreamworks production and it can’t be bad to be within the notice of Steven Spielberg.

    Shrek Forever After. Transformers ROTF. Paranormal Activity. I Love You, Man. Disturbia. Norbit.

    Dreamworks have produced some very good things, but the Dreamworks sign certainly isn’t a marker of a film one’s going to want to see…

  • Lisa

    David is a workaholic – he admitted it in an interview and described it as one of his “faults”. He always has something on the go. I’d rather he was doing tv so we could watch him evey week but more power to him for making a go of it in movies. There’s not much tv being made over here in the UK. He has got a 4-part tv series that will be broadcast here in the Autumn, 3 movies after that, Retreat and Decoy Bride and then the above mentioned Fright Night. Actors go where the work is. I, for one, am pleased that his talent is being recognised and that he’s getting loads of work. Even if these movies suck, David will be great in them. I’m already laughing at the thought of him being a bad boy LV magician. There’s no way he’s not gonna to take the piss out of that.

    I think that NBC really did want to work with him. They seem to have done a lot of work on the pilot. Sendhil dropped out and then Jerry got another part. I’d love to see it. Half these decisions are political anyway. Who knows what happened? Best of luck to him!

  • Patricia

    I agree with one of the first post-ers. I’ll be in line the day it opens. I just hope it comes to the US!

  • Mimi

    [David Tennant] is now working on a British Rom-Com movie

    Tell me more! Those are all of my favorite words in one sentence!

  • Caz

    The RomCom is called Decoy Bride. Info here – http://tennantnews.blogspot.com/2010/05/decoy-bride.html

  • chiclit

    I agree that the long send off was a disservice to the franchise, Ten and Tennant-should have just split the last series in half and done 2 British short seasons. The poor man was embarrassingly overexposed on Christmas Day.

    But have read he likes to work, Tennant just finished “Single Father” a multi episode thing for the BBC, and the Rom Com is a movie “Decoy Bride” with Scottish star Kelly McDonald, which sounds good (decoy wedding to throw paparazzi off the trail of some famous star is the premise). Alas, the indie scene is getting hard to pay for in this economy so local work is likely going to be his thing- mix of stage and screen. I think “Rex” was never going to be a fit for NBC-sounded like a cable show..

    As for Eccleston, his “Lennon Naked” airs next week in Britain (fall in the US on PBS apparently) and is currently filming one episode of a new anthology series reuniting him with Jimmy McGovern who did “Cracker” He recently admitted that in an article he didn’t quite pull off “GI Joe”. However, I think that if someone hadn’t turned “Amelia” from an indie to a corporate paint by the numbers film, and reigned in Swank’s performance a bit, Eccleston might have been looking at noms for his Fred Noonan.

  • MaryAnn

    It isn’t his fault that Hollywood doesn’t like skinny, geeky guys they’ve hardly heard of as leading men.

    Well, no one is forcing him to go to Hollywood.

    Talent like his will not be ignored even in Hollywood.

    And I’m the one who doesn’t understand how Hollywood works? :->

    Yes, talent like his can most certainly be ignored in Hollywood. Worse, though, is that it might be misused. That’s what I fear.

  • Did she invent the demon Anya or the human Anya? Because the demon Anya originally was just a channel for the plot of a couple of episodes (a couple of their better ones, in my opinion), but the human Anya was a real character.

    Well, of the four episodes of Buffy‘s third season in which Anya first appeared, Noxon wrote two: “The Wish,” which introduced demon Anya, and “The Prom,” which introduced an Anya more reconciled to her post-demon human form. She also wrote four episodes of the fourth season in which Anya became more of a main character. So it’s likely that Noxon had at least some input into how the character was developed–and no doubt more after she took over from Joss Whedon at the beginning of the infamous sixth season.

    And it turns out from my research that not all her post-Buffy work was as awful as her work on Point Pleasant had me believing. She apparently worked on Mad Men for about 20 episodes as an executive or consulting producer and wrote two episodes of the series to boot. Plus she wrote an episode of the critically acclaimed Brothers and Sisters and also worked on the short-lived fantasy series Still Life, which starred former Firefly Morena Baccarin. She even worked on Prison Break a short while as a consulting producer. Of course, she also worked on Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice, which aren’t such great feathers in her cap. But nobody’s perfect.

  • Barb

    There’s been a lot of positive response to David taking on the role (at least in the message boards I go to) so, who knows, it might be a decent movie (though I detest Colin Farrell).

    As mentioned above, he is a workaholic and has quite a bit in the pipeline. Personally, I prefer he not make the leap to the States and have to hide his lovely accent as other actors do (except in very very rare occasions – Tim Roth). There was one movie he did drop out of, Burke and Hare, (wonder if the NBC pilot had something to do with it) which might have given him good exposure as well.

    Either case, no one has a midas touch but I will see anything he is in (I am still not into the new Doctor).

  • Lisa

    I would have loved to have seen him in Burke and Hare.

    You say no-one is forcing him to go to Hollywood but there is very little work for actors in the UK right now. (To be fair, he’s getting most of it!) He could become a presenter, get his own freeview show or do Strictly Come Dancing/I’m a Celebrity like most out of work actors do but he’s really does not seem the sort of guy that would be interested in those types of shows. He likes to act, he likes to work and he likes doing different roles. America is a bigger marketplace, so there are more possibilities for his career. I hope he gets the chance to make the most of them. However, I don’t want him to go work in America because I doubt that they will get him. I’d rather he was doing theatre in the UK or headlining tv shows. I don’t think he’s a complete money-whore, he does seem to care about having a career in the long-run.

    Also I do remember Peter Davison saying that it was hard to shake off Dr Who and get other jobs. But then, it would be, wouldn’t it!

  • develish1

    “Why do past doctors always have slumps after Doctor Who!”

    I’d wouldn’t call it a “slump”. Since leaving he’s done a fair bit of other work, with 3 other recent/current projects, running virtually consecutively. Or are you simply ignoring Single Father, Retreat and Decoy Bride?

    While they might not quite rate as Hollywood blockbusters, it’s hardly fair to simply dismiss them.

  • pat

    I watched Fright Night on Netflix last night. Fast forwarded through a lot of it but saw enough to get the gist. Now I am SO stoked to see David Tennant in the role. I think this may be the post-Doctor thing I look forward to the most. First, this is a movie that really does need a remake. It wasn’t well acted to begin with and now it’s horribly dated. But it became a cult favorite and I think that’s because it has good bones. Great premise. Points of entry for various ages. For a kid, there’s that always compelling idea of being alone with dreadful knowledge. Mother’s no use. Police are no use. Friends aren’t much good either. It’s up to you. For adults, there’s that terrifying idea of being called on to be as great as you pretend you are. You’ve been bullshitting your way through life and now here comes a kid who asks you to live up to your bullshit. This may be a silly, campy, vampire story, but it can stand on its ideas. And, David Tennant as a Vegas act! David Tennant as a Vegas act! Oh my god, that’s gotta be hilarious. So he gets to be funny and he gets character development and he gets to be a hero in the end. Works for me.

  • Iris

    Tennant was actually supposed to co-star in Simon Pegg’s new movie ‘Burke and Hare,’ but he was forced to turn it down because NBC left him dangling about his pilot for “Rex.” Unfortunately, right after he had to resign from his role in Pegg’s movie, NBC pulled the pilot and didn’t give it a greenlight. Poo on NBC for screwing him over on what was supposed to be an exemplary star movie role for Tennant.

    http://ausiellofiles.ew.com/2010/01/24/nbc-delays-rex-is-not-your-lawyer/

  • pat

    I’d never have watched Burke and Hare. The fact that DT didn’t end up in it or in the weak sounding TV show Rex is not a Credible Character is proof that the universe does revolve around me. Burke and Hare were real murderers who killed real people. Portraying them as madcap scamps or quirky cuties or whatever disrespects their real victims. It makes me sick. So, yaay! Let David Tennant find a role in a movie or TV series that’s worthy of him, and that I want to see.

  • Is it wrong that I want to see this movie even more, just because of this pic?

  • Tonio Kruger

    Yeah, George Clooney’s post-TV career sucked. So did Ron Howard’s and Tom Hanks’. And Michelle Pfeiffer’s career since her TV show Delta House has been one big slide downhill. And don’t get me started on that Bruce Willis fellow…

  • bronxbee

    okay, but it’s 4 years since DT left DW and what have you seen him in, other than Broadchurch? he is still doing good tv work, but other than a bit (but hilarious) part in a horror movie, what films has he really done? i saw him in Richard II — so he’s still doing theatre, and the place was packed — it’s not that he doesn’t have a career, but he hasn’t become an international movie star, not even as a movie villan.

  • Danielm80

    If his goal was to become an international movie star within four years, then he’s clearly failed. If his goal was to appear in a large number of interesting projects–rather than one enormously demanding project, which takes up every moment of his life for a good portion of the year–then he seems to have succeeded. He’s worked on at least eight TV shows over the past several years, and a number of other projects, small and large. If he’s found them rewarding, then by some definitions, he’s an extremely successful actor.

  • bronxbee

    oh, i agree — i love what he’s been doing… but the implication seemed to be that he wanted to be a big movie star after leaving DW… if, as you say, he wants to have an interesting and varied career, then he’s a success.

  • Bluejay

    If he’s found them rewarding, then by some definitions, he’s an extremely successful actor.

    Yeah, the only definition of success that matters is his own. I recently read an article about what Viggo Mortensen’s been up to, and it seems he’s been up to a lot of seemingly small things (“small” by Hollywood-success standards), but they’re things that spark his passion. If he’s happy and fulfilled, that’s what matters, even if he never reaches Aragorn-level blockbuster fame again. And I’ve actually ordered a book of Iranian paintings from his little publishing house…

  • Tonio Kruger

    Well, true but then one can say the same thing about Bruce Campbell and he’s way more likeable than Tennant. :)

    I have nothing more to add to what Bluejay and Danielm80 have already said except to note that for every TV star that went on to be a big movie star, many equally if not more talented TV stars just barely escaped obscurity. For example, the late Sid Caesar was considered one of the most creative TV comics of his era but he was usually wasted by Hollywood. Ernie Kovacs was, too.

  • Tonio Kruger

    I actually have seen Burke and Hare on DVD. More meh than bad from what I remember — the movie itself was quite forgettable — but definitely not one of Simon Pegg’s better movies. Tennant did not miss out on much.

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