The 28th annual Gallifrey One, a Doctor Who convention, took place at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott February 17-19, 2017. Josh provides you with Part 3 of our Saturday Report, which features the Eighth Doctor himself, Paul McGann!
Click here if you missed Part 2 of our Saturday Report, featuring psychic medium Michael J. Kouri, as well as the Making Torchwood panel with Naoko Mori (Tosh) and Gareth David-Lloyd (Ianto).
After we finished the Torchwood panel, we met up with Jason and his wife Diana again. They were outside taking photos of the Daleks and cosplayers out front. We got a quick photo with the Daleks, thanks to Diana taking the photo. There had also been a meetup of Tenth Doctor cosplayers, as seen in the picture above (Dalek and Tenth Doctor cosplay meetup photo credits to Jason and Diana Koh).
After that we wandered a bit, and went back to checking out the game room. Unfortunately, the game room was full, but the four us had some fun chatting about how we met our respective spouses and other things.
It was getting pretty close to time to head to our next panel, so Violet and I headed back to Program A shortly before 5:30pm for the Paul McGann panel, who was the Eighth doctor on Doctor Who. The first question the moderator has for McGann is asking when he first thought he could do this acting thing. He says his teachers told him to get into acting.
He talks about how he went back to his brother’s school, which was his also school, and watched his brother’s play. He said a teacher at his school told him he needed to get into acting by going to drama school. Funny enough in school, he won an award for his role as playing a 5 year old girl.
McGann talks about the union system when he was acting, and he had to be able to get into the union so that he would be able to act, which meant he had to know someone to get them into the union. He said that he found a friend who had a second card, and he offered the card to him, and he got past the first hurdle. He also talks about a play he was in, which was based on the Beatles, playing George Harrison.
Talking about his training, Paul McGann says that British training involves a lot of stage training. He says that the people at drama school would play all of the roles, which helps them learn the roles.
The moderator then asks about his first TV job, and Paul McGann says he was cast for a 50s themed show. Apparently they asked him if he could ride a motorbike, and he really hadn’t known how, so he went and found a friend and did his best to learn it in the 10 days he had. Then when he got to the set, he was put on another bike, and the controls were on the opposite side.
Paul McGann also talks about meeting with Steven Spielberg. Spielberg asked him if he can ride a horse, and Paul McGann said he could. Spielberg called him out though, and he knew that McGann couldn’t. Spielberg then told McGann that they will teach him, and McGann was wondering if he got the part (the movie was Empire of the Sun). He talks about going through the training on the horses. The trainer told him that the horses knew all the commands, and he just had to be able ride the horse. The trainer said he had to learn to ride in 3 days for the movie. The trainer then had him do a jump the next morning.
The moderator then asks McGann about working with Spielberg, and McGann talks about how exciting it was, and talks about his first day filming, which had the setting of a Christmas party before a big battle in the movie. McGann talks about how Spielberg arrived on set, and how he began directing everyone, and McGann was impressed how Spielberg remembered everybody’s name, despite much of the other crew having no idea who everyone is.
Asking McGann what he looks for in a director, McGann says that he prefers someone who is confident. He also wants a director who was good with actors. McGann also talks about how during Empire of the Sun, which was Christian Bale’s first movie, Spielberg would help calm Bale down into playing his scene.
McGann has also done some directing of daytime television, and McGann talks about how he enjoys the storytelling and constantly being involved in the production. He also jokes about how he really likes having assistants. McGann also talks about how it was being on the other side of the casting table, meaning interviewing actors for roles, because he can feel for those people.
Moving more to Doctor Who, the moderator asks McGann if he watched it, he said he did, since they only had 3 channels for televisions. He wasn’t a diehard fan, but he had been exposed since there wasn’t much on TV. He talks about “his” Doctor though, William Hartnell, remembering him as a sort of “granddad”. He talks about how Troughton “saved” Doctor Who with the regeneration.
Moving on to his involvement in the series, McGann remembers hearing rumors about the show coming back, even an American version possibly. He talks about his surprise when he was asked because it wasn’t the typical type of role for him.
McGann then talks about the struggle being an actor, such as traveling, as he had to film the movie he was in in Vancouver, when his kid was just a baby. He talks about the struggle of committing to 6 years, if the series had been picked up. He jokes how if that had worked out no one would be talking about the new Doctors like Ecceleston, Tennant, and Smith.
Talking about the publicity of the event, McGann describes how surreal the situation was since the Doctor Who universe could turn into a big deal, if everything worked out. But unfortunately for him, it did not work out, and jokes about how his kids would not be Canadian after all.
The director for the Doctor Who movie apparently was picked on the “11th hour” according to McGann, and McGann talks about how well he thought Geoffrey Sax did given the small amount of time he had to work with. Then talking about making the pilot, McGann talks about how they had to explain this world, and stick to specific things that the Doctor Who lore had already set up. McGann then talks about how he did not want to wear the scarf, and McGann said that he negotiated that he would wear the scarf, but then take it off during the episode so that he wouldn’t have to wear it forever. He also talks about how this revival was supposed to appeal to the American audience, but just didn’t work out.
McGann then talks about the 50th Anniversary episode, and he says that he was let known pretty last minute for his part in the episode, and he had a good time filming his own “death” scene. He did not get to meet John Hurt though.
The moderator then asks McGann if he would do any TV or radio stints as the Doctor, and McGann said he would definitely want to do it. He also talks about Steven Moffat’s writing, and was impressed with his little bit he had leading up to John Hurt. McGann says that he spoke with Moffat, and Moffat said that shrinking down the episodes to twenty minutes like they were originally would help get rid of a lot of filler.
When the panel finished, Violet and I met up with Jason and Diana again, and we tried out a unique restaurant around the corner, just a short drive away. It was a Persian and Italian place combined into one restaurant, named Jino’s/Pars. We ordered some Persian food there which turned out to be really good.
We headed back to the Marriott after, and checked out the game room again. There were some tables open, so we sat down for a few games. First we taught Diana Codenames, and played a couple rounds of that. We moved over to Apples to Apples after that for a lighter weight game. After a game of that, (in which I was thoroughly thrashed at), we played a game of Scrabble . It was a race to the finish, and Jason and I tied for first place. But Diana does deserve a special mention for the biggest scoring word of the game, “quiz”, which landed on a “triple word score”, giving her something like 65 points.
By this time I was pretty tired, as the night before I did not sleep very well. The four of us headed back to our rooms (which by chance landed right next door to each other), and I almost immediately passed out, which is a rarity for me when it comes to getting sleep.
Stay tuned for our Gallifrey One 2017 Sunday Report!