When "Doctor Who" next steps out of his time- and space-traveling police box, the TARDIS, he'll meet his new companion, Clara Oswald. He's not going to know what to think of her.
That's because Clara, or 26-year-old Jenna-Louise Coleman actually, has appeared in the series twice before. In last fall's "The Asylum of the Daleks" episode, she was the futuristic, souffle-making Oswin, who was transformed into a Dalek. In the "Doctor Who" Christmas special, "The Snowmen," she was 18th century governess Clara Oswin Oswald, who the Doctor couldn't save from death.
With the premiere of "The Bells of St. John" at 7 p.m. CT March 30 on BBC America, the thoroughly contemporary Clara Oswald will bewilder the Doctor (Matt Smith) like no companion has before her.
"She absolutely challenges him. I think she's not intimidated by him at all," Coleman told me during a phone interview last week from LA. "I think she's curious. She's spirited and she's an adventurer at heart. She wants to explore.
"She finds [the Doctor] amazing and ridiculous in equal measure, so it kind of keeps him in check. He isn't used to someone like Clara, so he doesn't quite know how to deal with her."
Although the Doctor seems to think there is some connection between the Claras, according to Coleman this new Clara is not the same women we've previously met.
"You'll see an essence in the same way there was an essence of Oswin in Christmas Clara, there was a similar essence running through them, a similar spirit. We'll see that again with this Clara," said Coleman, who claims the Doctor and presumably the audience will figure out the mystery of the Claras by the end of the season.
She wasn't familiar with the twisty mythologies of "Doctor Who" when she auditioned for the series because she didn't watch "Doctor Who" growing up. But don't hold that against her; the actress explained the show had been off the air when she was a child and didn't return until 2005 when she was 18.
But she did watch the 2005 episode "The Eleventh Hour," then chose not to watch more Matt Smith episodes with Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill as his companions, the Ponds.
"I kind of didn't really want to know anything about the Doctor and Amy relationship," she said. "And didn't really want to pick up on anything and I think it worked well because the addition is then very spontaneous because I didn't know the Doctor. So I was reacting very spontaneously to Matt as the Doctor because I was technically meeting him for the first time with no kind of previous awareness."
During filming, she did watch the first five episodes of Season 7--the final episodes with the Ponds--and noticed that the Doctor's relationship with Clara is different than it was with the Ponds.
"He was their protector, almost like their granddad, and now he's like a young boy again," she said. "That's happening with us as actors, too. Matt will expect a line to come in a certain way and it can be a bit jarring when something happens that neither of us expects."
Coleman, who dates "Game of Thrones" star Richard Madden, talked more about Clara, the Doctor and bringing Madden into the Doctor fold. It's all after the prequel video below:
I can't wait for the new episodes.
Great, yeah it's exciting; I just saw it for the first time. We did a screening in London on Friday. So, it's the first time I've seen it and I think it's in pretty good shape, it's looking good. Yeah, it's great, I like them really well.
So you liked the episode?
Yeah I did. It's really great because there's so many elements to the show that really make it from, you know, the CGI and the music, and then just seeing kind of it put together like what you've been working on. So it's great and it's kind of, just makes you really see kind of, how clever Steven Moffat really is. [Laughs.]
And how is this new girl, this new companion?
Yeah. Well [Laughs.] It's strange actually because this is really sort of Take 3. I feel like there's been a good reaction to the previous episodes, but you just never know because I feel like it's the beginning again for this one, so it does kind of feel like a new start again each time were introduced to a new Clara. Another reintroduction.
She was a Dalek in "Asylum of the Daleks." She was Oswin, right? In the Christmas special she was Clara Oswin Oswald. Is this Clara one of those people?
No, this is basically an entirely new start. This is Clara who is living in contemporary London. She's like as a nanny. She looks after two kids and she's kind of trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life while she's at University. So this is a completely different Clara.