"I can’t get away from doctors."
Alex Kingston was born in England. Although she was successful as stage actress and is wellknown for Dr. Elisabeth Corday in "ER", she also featured "Arrow" and - of course "Doctor Who" as River Song. We asked for an interview and were very happy to to talk to Alex Kingston in English, although she speaks perfect German.
Hello Alex Kingston, welcome to Vienna.
We are glad that you have time for an interview.You played in a lot of movies, you played on stage, you played in series. What’s the main aspect about being an actress, if you think about Alex Kingston yourself?
I never realized that I wanted to become an actor. But if I now look back, at the child that I was, it’s pretty obvious that that’s what I was going to be. I loved playing fantasy, I sort of loved living in a fantasy world in my head. I played with my dolls. I would create dramas with my dolls, I loved dressing them up. I really indulged as a child in that sort of roleplay world in a sense. I supposed to ignore everything else. I was terrible in math, I was terrible at the sciences. So, I was always doing something creative or artistic. In England at the time, when I left drama school, if you wanted to be an actor, it was primarily, because you wanted to be a stage actor. This sort of television or film opportunity weren’t as great as they are today. And certainly, you know, we didn’t have cellphones. So that the whole notion of celebrity didn’t exist. So, if you wanted to be an actor, it was because you took it seriously. And you wanted to be a serious theater actor. That’s what I wanted. So, I saw myself as a Shakespearian actress and I did a lot of theater before I even started working on television. But I like all of it now. I like to balance it.
What would you say was the hardest role to learn?
I find it easy to learn lines. I don’t have problems learning lines. But in terms of the hardest role to play, ironically it was early this year and it was a play. An American play and a new play called “Admission”. It was an hour and 40 minutes long but had no interval and I was on stage the entire time. I had to drive the piece forward. I had to maintain the pace. All the other actors came and left the stage. And that was very hard for me. Just as a physical thing to do but also as a very hard emotional journey in terms of the character that I was playing. So, I found that incredibly hard, actually.
Fandom is a very strange thing. Of course, we are here at the Vienna Comic Con so everybody is here because of his or her fandom. You played Dr. Elisabeth Corday in ER (Emergency Room) for 160 Episodes. Still a lot of people would recognize you for being River Song – sometimes Professor Song – in Doctor Who.
How do you deal with this?
Well, I can’t get away from doctors. (laughing) So I don’t know how to deal with it. They keep sticking to me. I don’t know why.I’ve been very fortunate because I loved playing Elisabeth Corday on ER, and actually interestingly, a lot of the fans who came up today and have wanted to have a photo with Elisabeth Corday. So, I was associating ComicCons with fantasy, but it’s interesting, that actually there are enough people who associate me more with the character of Elisabeth Corday. But I have been as well incredibly lucky to play River Song. I never imagined that I would be on this journey with this character. I thought that I was only going to be playing her in this one, two episodes story arc. “Silence in the library”. As far as I was concerned, she died or was saved. But to continue with this character and to jump in and out of her timeline has been the gift that keeps on giving.
Talking about Doctor Who, you did not only play in the television series, you also did a lot of audio plays.
I do, yes.
So, you do them together with previous actors from Doctor Who like Sylvester McCoy or Paul McGann. You still love being a part of Doctor Who?
I love being part of Doctor Who. It is such an incredible family. I love the joy it brings (to) the fans. And the wonderful thing is, that particularly with the audio recordings, I recently worked with Tom Baker. I mean I used to watch him as a child and it’s incredible. Even though he is physically quite frail now, his voice sounds as youthful as it did, when he was playing the doctor. To go into the recording studio and having an adventure with Tom Bakers doctor is wonderful. What other show could do that? That’s amazing. I feel fortunate in that regard and also it allows the fans to keep on living with their favorite doctor. And you have young fans who cosplay as Tom Bakers “Doctor Who”. You know, he is the age of their grandparents but they identify with him, his doctor.
Talking about your Doctor Who episodes, do you have a favorite one?
I can’t say for the episodes I was involved in. I can’t say I have a favorite, because Steven Moffat wrote all of the episodes, I was in. He did not allow any of the other writers to write for my character. They were all brilliant. What I will say is, that of the episodes I wasn’t in, one of my favorites is the one with Van Gogh. I wasn’t so keen on the part with the alien, the big chicken thing, that was the monster. I thought that wasn’t so good, but the story with Van Gogh was amazing. And every time I see it, I cry. It really moves me. Steven is a genius.
In “The Husbands of River Song”, how hard was it, to stay serious, at a point where you exactly know who is the guy next to you, pretending not to know the doctor? I cannot really imagine that.
That’s what an actor’s role is, what he has to do. To forget everything that you know already and play it in the moment. That’s not so difficult. The thing that was difficult to me was not crying.
That would have been my next question.
That was very hard. And in fact, I didn’t achieve it. I cried. And then we had to redo my make-up, I mean it was almost impossible. Because the feelings are so full and so raw. It is an incredible journey that is coming full circle So yeah, that was very hard.
I know the questions is probably asked a lot of times. Still. Do you see any chance that Steven Moffat would write another episode with you?
The showrunner is now Chris Chibnal. But I would hope that Steven Moffat has blessed Chris Chibnal and the opportunity is, that he could bring any of the characters back. I mean, I do have to meet my second wife after all.
Thank you very much, it was a pleasure.