If there’s one thing David Tennant has established himself as, it’s on-screen oddballs. With an impressive range, his charm means he can work his magic on any role, from out and out nasty, to irreverent and wacky, via repressed and brooding. As the release of his new film Mad To Be Normal approaches on April 6th, we’ve had a look at some of Tennant’s greatest quirky roles.
The role that brought David Tennant well and truly to the public’s attention was that of The Doctor. The tenth incarnation of the Tim Lord, he was one of the wackier regenerations, and was voted ‘The UK’s Favourite Doctor’ in a 2013 survey by the Radio Times. Not bad going for a show that’s been going since the 1960s! Tennant was the second actor (after Christopher Eccleston) to take on the role of the Time Lord when the show was brought back in 2005 after a lengthy hiatus. His tenure saw him tackling science-fiction mysteries and threats with three companions, most memorably Billie Piper and Catherine Tate. Tennant’s time as The Doctor saw him time travelling in the TARDIS, visiting various far flung planets, coming face to face with one of his previous incarnations, and surviving an attack from one of the notorious Daleks.
In the Netflix series Jessica Jones, David played the quite frankly terrifying Kilgrave (or The Purple Man, if you’ve read the comics). A villain whose power is not only to make anyone do whatever he likes, he makes them want to do it, Kilgrave is as scary an enemy as they get, opting for smooth charm and manipulation rather than brute strength, naturally making Tennant ideal for the part. He soon becomes aware that the object of his affections, Jessica Jones, may only like him because he made her want to, and begins a campaign to win her affections the normal way. Frightened of his ability to control her, Jessica sets out to kill him, and a gripping game of cat and mouse mind games ensues.
Starring as Detective Inspector Alec Hardy, Tennant played a grumpy and jaded out of towner, who is brought in to investigate the grizzly murder of local boy Danny Latimer. This is much to the chagrin of Olivia Colman’s Detective Sgt. Ellie Miller, who feels that the job should have been hers, in no small part due to her her local knowledge and relationships. The mismatched pair get off to a rocky start, with a taciturn Hardy played to perfection by Tennant. There’s something of the tragic to DI Hardy; having taken the fall for the collapse of a previous case when key evidence was stolen from his now ex-wife’s car, he also has a serious heart arrhythmia, later remedied with a pacemaker.
Barty Crouch Jr. was a bit of a wrong ‘un, and Tennant captured his evil intentions perfectly in his turn as a death eater, and one of Voldemort’s closest allies. Sentenced to life in Azkaban by his own father, Barty was the first person to escape the fortress like prison in 300 years. As it turned out, Barty and his parents hatched a plan to allow him to essentially fake his own death – upon discovering Barty was alive, Voldemort welcomes him back into his service, and Crouch disguised himself as Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher Alastor Moody.
Mad To Be Normal
In his latest film, Tennant plays unorthodox psychiatrist R.D. Laing, who wrote the groundbreaking book The Divided Self in the 60s. Laing didn’t believe in medicating patients with mental health issues, feeling that sedatives merely blocked out the painful memories at the root of their disorders. Instead, he advocated meditation, LSD, and community living in his controversial community in which patients and doctors lived together. Something of a cult figure, Laing believed that traditional psychiatric treatments, which at the time consisted mainly of padded cells, strait jackets, and electric shock therapy, to be ineffective, and ignoring the human element of mental illness. Tennant brings the brilliant and hotly debated Laing to life, in a suitably trippy imagining of life inside his community.
Mad To Be Normal is in UK cinemas from April 6th.