In an interview given to Simon Brew, on Den of Geek, Sylvester McCoy talks to us about The Minister Of Chance, burning TV backdrops, the anarchy of Tiswas and, of course, Doctor Who and The Hobbit…
You’re heading off next to New Zealand to do The Hobbit, then! This must be the biggest adventure of all now?
I think it is, yeah. I think it’s a big one. I’ve had quite a lot of wonderful adventures in my life, and this one, I’m so excited.
Is it pinch yourself time? Because presumably, after coming so close to landing the role of Bilbo Baggins in Lord Of The Rings, this must be the one you thought had slipped away for good?
Yeah, yeah. I nearly got Bilbo, nearly got it, and it was down to two of us in the end. And, of course, Ian Holm got it. I was hugely honoured to be in his company, as it were, but I thought that was it, really. This one, I’m told by the producers and writers, is a better part.
Is that the worst thing, knowing just how close you came? Is it tougher to deal with than thinking you’d come nowhere near?
No, actually. I was rather flattered. Wow. If Ian couldn’t have done those weeks, I would have got it. It would have been great. In acting quite a lot of the time you’re not the first choice. Usually, you’re second or third. And it can turn out to be the best thing that ever happened. You get used to that.
When did you first hear, then, that you were close to landing a part in The Hobbit? Because the rumour mill had been going for a while.
Well, last summer, Peter Jackson, Fran [Walsh] and Phillippa [Boyens] flew over, and invited me for tea. So they got me a car, and drove over for tea. I thought it was more auditioning, because I’d screentested for it. But when I got there, they said would you play the part? Would I? No! Of course not!
They knew you from before…
Well, they saw my screentest for Radagast The Brown, and Guillermo del Toro, who was going to direct it, he’d okayed it. He was keen that I play the part. I didn’t know this, but I got it from the screentest. It wasn’t until I went to see them for tea that I knew. They were asking my permission to be in it!
Do they make good tea, too?
Oh yeah! The tea and biscuits were great!
There have been, of course, many times over the past year when it looked like The Hobbit films weren’t going to happen, what with del Toro leaving, and the budget collapsing at one point. Do you fear it might be doomed?
Yeah, but every actor is always prepared for the worst when it comes to work. I was pleased that I’d got it, so that would have made me pretty happy anyway if it hadn’t gone on. But this makes me even happier!