These are my favorite parts of an interview with Alex Kingston.
On the fate of River Song –
By Curt Wagner
This is a very long interview with Alex Kingston about River Song. It is also the very best Alex Kingston/River Song interview I have read.
SPOILERS IF YOU ARE CURRENT WITH THE EPISODES!
Steven says he sort of knew the whole arc of River Song even before “Silence of the Library” or at that time, but you had no idea, right?
I had no idea at all, no. I was sent the script to look at. I had heard that “Doctor Who” had been revised by Russell T Davies, and I’d heard that it was a big success in England and everybody was thrilled that it was back because, pretty much, grandparents, great-grandparents, parents and children—there were literally like four generations that all have a connection to “Doctor Who” at the moment in England. It’s almost like a national treasure.
And so, but I had no sense of it because I was here [in L.A.]. And my agent just said, “Look, I’m going to send you these two scripts. Just have a read and see what you think.” And by the time I got to the end of the second script, I was crying.
I just found this little story of this journey that these two characters have, and quite obviously this woman has a very strong connection to the Doctor, but we have no idea who she is. And you can see the pain that causes her, but yet, you don’t know really why. And she gives up her life for him. It absolutely just hits a spot with me.
And so, I just thought, OK, well if it’s provoking this sort of reaction in me when I’m reading, I guess I’d better do it. And I thought that was it. And that wasn’t to be.
In “The Forest of the Dead,” River whispers something to the Doctor. Now was that that he would meet Amy and Rory and this whole thing that we’re seeing now or was that something that we don’t even know?
We’re going to have a lot of those, I think. All right, so we will go on to the next question. When did you learn that you were coming back?
Well, I heard after we had done those two episodes. At the time, I didn’t know that David [Tennant] had already decided to sort of lay his coat to rest. I didn’t know that. I think it was half a year later that David was going to stop.
I was told after by Steven that it had always been the intention to bring River Song back, that her story wasn’t sort of done. And that in light of the fact that they were having a new Doctor and new assistant and it was a whole new team of producers, and there was a lot of pressure on this new team to be as good as, if not better than, the previous incarnation. And I think that they, for the sake of Matt and Karen as well, who are younger in terms of sort of work experience were relatively inexperienced. They hadn’t been acting for very long. I think they felt that it would be good to have a character that the audience could at least be familiar with and that would also maybe help and guide the two new actors in their sort of beginnings of their journey.
And so my character was written in. But what we did was, the first two episodes where the audience is introduced to the new Doctor were shot later. The very first episode that Matt shot was the one with me, which was the…
Yes, “The Weeping Angels,” exactly. It took the pressure off them a little bit. … I kept saying to them, “You’ve got nothing to worry about, you’re great.” I immediately felt from Matt that he was going to be fantastic. We already had a great sort of on camera relationship. It was just so easy and he was so willing and ready just to play.
I think by the time we’d finished those two episodes, he was then able to go back and film the episode that would be the very first one where he was seen by an audience, and it gave him the chance to just be able to breath and relax into it a little bit more.
And then I was sort of told, “We would love to write more stories for River, whenever you are ready and available, just let us know and we’ll keep adding her in.” And certainly, it’s been really nice. “Let’s Kill Hitler,” I mean, that was a great episode for me. I had a lot of fun doing that, yeah.
Well, it’s fun because you got to play her differently.
Yes. Absolutely, absolutely.
With a sadistic pirate, gun-for-hire, so to speak.
Absolutely, yes. And, all of a sudden one realizes that actually she’s way more complicated. And in fact, she may not even be in control of what is happening to her or what has happened to her in her past that she can’t talk about, and neither can I. [Laughs.]
Oh come on! That leads me to more questions that will not be answered, I think. So in that episode, she regenerates from being Mels into River and she doesn’t know who River is. I think the Doctor said, she’s just new or just starting out, or whatever. So, previously when they would meet in their timelines, she always knew a whole lot more than he did. So how do we get this flip suddenly? Do you understand how that happened?
Well, what I believe is, whenever she time travels, she never knows exactly what Doctor she is going to meet or at what stage of their relationship they will be at. She has no clue. So she could time travel again and she could suddenly be with a different Doctor, but we don’t know that. And she can’t tell us.
Right. So it wasn’t sort of set in stone about they always travel opposite each other. They still sort of meet up at different times in both of their timelines and it’s still willy-nilly a little bit.
Yes. [Laughs.] And I’m just saying, “yes.” [Laughs.]