11 Fun Facts About Jodie Whittaker

Joe Scarnici, Getty Images for BBC America
Joe Scarnici, Getty Images for BBC America

Though she long dreamed of being an actor, celebrity life has never held much appeal for Jodie Whittaker. She didn't set out to make history either, but she’s about to do that, too: This weekend, the 36-year-old actress will make her official debut as Doctor Who’s Thirteenth Doctor, and the first woman to ever permanently commandeer the TARDIS in the iconic sci-fi series’ 55-year history. Here are 11 things you might not have known about Jodie Whittaker.

1. IT DIDN’T TAKE LONG FOR HER TO LAND SOME PLUM ROLES.

Unlike so many actors who spend years waiting to get their big break, Whittaker found success pretty quickly after graduating from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2005. That same year, she made her professional debut at Shakespeare’s Globe in a production of The Storm, in which she shared the stage with Mark Rylance. Shortly after, she landed a role opposite Peter O’Toole in Roger Michell’s critically acclaimed Venus, which premiered at the 2006 Telluride Film Festival. Whittaker received a positive reviews across the board for her performance, which earned her nominations from the British Independent Film Awards and the London Critics Circle.

“I'll never be able to quantify how important Venus was for me or my career,” Whittaker told The Guardian in 2011. “I ticked a huge box.”

2. PETER O’TOOLE WAS AN EARLY FAN.

Jodie Whittaker and Peter O'Toole in 'Venus' (2006)
Miramax

Peter O’Toole reportedly cited Whittaker as one of the two best young actresses he had ever worked with. (The other was Rose Byrne.)

3. SHE NEVER WANTED TO BE FAMOUS.

Though she long dreamed of making a living as an actor, being famous has never been on Whittaker’s to do list. “People never recognize me in the street and that’s brilliant—I love it,” Whittaker once said. “A chameleon face is good—because you don’t want to be going everywhere and have people thinking they know you. I’ve been around people who that has happened to, and sometimes it makes me angry on their behalf.” Like it or not, Whittaker’s surely about to lose a bit of that anonymity.

4. SHE STEPPED IN FOR CAREY MULLIGAN IN THE SEAGULL WITH THREE HOURS’ NOTICE.

In 2007, producers of the Royal Court’s production of Chekhov’s The Seagull found themselves in a bit of a pickle when the show’s star, Carey Mulligan, had appendicitis. They needed a great actress and needed one quickly, so they called Whittaker—who had auditioned for the part of Nina, but lost out to Mulligan—to take over. She had a full three hours between that phone call and her first performance.

“Carey powered back to health after a few days—she was an absolute warrior,” Whittaker later told the Daily Mail. “And when I saw her on stage again, I realized why I hadn’t got the job in the first place. There are a lot of good girls out there."

5. SHE CONSIDERS HERSELF A “QUIET PERSON’S NIGHTMARE."

Jodie Whittaker stars in 'Doctor Who'
Sophie Mutevelian, BBC

While many actors are happy to rattle off any number of professions they would have possibly attempted had they not gone into show business, Whittaker doesn’t see herself as a 9 to 5 type. “I’m a quiet person’s nightmare,” she said. “The only time I shut up is when I’m reading, because I’m a book geek. I was the attention-seeking child in class who needed everyone to look at meee … Luckily that got channeled into acting, because I would have been terrible at anything else. I would have been a nightmare in any kind of office, because I wouldn’t have had any friends in any environment other than performing.”

6. SHE LIKES THE UNPREDICTABILITY THAT COMES WITH ACTING.

While some people can only be comfortable with stability, Whittaker loves the unpredictable nature of being an actor. “I’ve got a very manic energy,” she once explained about why living in London was a good match for her personality. “And I’ve always panicked about taking an acting job that would be really long, because the motivation for me is that I don’t know from day to day what I’ll be doing. I don’t want to know that in five years’ time I’ll be at such-and-such a level. I like the unpredictability of it all.”

7. WHITTAKER WAS CHRIS CHIBNALL’S FIRST CHOICE TO PLAY THE THIRTEENTH DOCTOR.

Whittaker isn’t the only newcomer to the new season of Doctor Who: Broadchurch creator Chris Chibnall, who has worked with Whittaker for years and has written for the sci-fi series in the past, was tapped as the show’s new showrunner. And the Thirteenth Doctor will be surrounded by a whole new cast of companions.

While it’s always a big deal when the Doctor regenerates on Doctor Who, Chibnall made it clear that he wanted the next Doctor to be a woman. And Whittaker quickly rose to the very top of his list of the very few actors who could pull the role off.

"I always knew I wanted the Thirteenth Doctor to be a woman, and we’re thrilled to have secured our number choice," Chibnall said. "Jodie is a force of nature and will bring loads of wit, strength, and warmth to the role."

8. HAD CHIBNALL NOT BEEN RUNNING THE SHOW, WHITTAKER DOESN’T THINK SHE’D BE AN OBVIOUS CHOICE TO PLAY THE DOCTOR.

Jodie Whittaker stars in 'Doctor Who'
Steve Schofield, BBC Worldwide

Because so much of her past work has been dramatic in nature, Whittaker’s pretty sure that it was only because Chibnall knew her offscreen personality that she was even considered for the part.

“If Chris had only known my work, I don't think he would've necessarily thought of me as right for the role, because a lot of my work has been emotional or heavily traumatized, with a quite heavy energy,” Whittaker told TV Guide. “But in real life, I'm quite hyperactive and manic. So I think he saw qualities in me that lent themselves to the role. I was lucky that he knew me personally, and knew that I was a team player and I really enjoyed being part of an ensemble, and I really love filming and being on set. You need someone who enjoys the job, because it's long hours.”

9. CASTING A WOMAN AS THE DOCTOR HAS BEEN A LONG TIME COMING.

Although Whittaker’s casting as the first woman to play the Doctor made headlines around the world, Doctor Who producers have been toying with the idea of having an actress lead the ensemble going back nearly 40 years.

When Fourth Doctor Tom Baker departed the series in 1981, he famously wished "good luck to the new Doctor, whoever he or she may be," fueling speculation as to whether the next Doctor would be a man. (It was.) When Tenth Doctor David Tennant left the series 10 years ago, then-showrunner Russell T. Davies was gunning for Catherine Zeta Jones to become the Eleventh Doctor.

10. SHE HAD TO TELL A LOT OF LIES WHILE NEGOTIATING HER DOCTOR WHO ROLE.

Because of all the secrecy surrounding her casting, Whittaker gave The Doctor a codename: The Clooney. “In my home, and with my agent, it was The Clooney,” she said. "Because to me and my husband, George is an iconic guy. And we thought: what’s a really famous iconic name? It was just fitting.” (Yes, her husband was one of the few people she was allowed to tell.)

11. SHE STAYS FAR, FAR AWAY FROM SOCIAL MEDIA.

Jodie Whittaker appears on 'The Graham Norton Show'
Matt Crossick, BBC

Given Doctor Who’s immense popularity, and the number of fans who like to make their thoughts about the series public via social media, it’s probably a good thing that Whittaker has never been into the whole Twitter thing. For her, it’s an important part of staying grounded as an actor.

“One of the main things that's been very healthy for me throughout my life and my career is having never entered social media,” she told TV Guide. “I didn't get a Facebook page, I never got Twitter, I never went on Instagram. It's a wonderful tool for so many reasons. But for me personally, it was never a direction I wanted to go in, because it lets in things that don't necessarily need to be a part of your day. I am very proactive of making sure I know the news and what's happening. So to then kind of dilute that with opinions, whether good or bad, of people who've never met me isn't necessarily helpful for my type of personality.”

You Can Get Paid $1000 to Watch All 20 Marvel Movies Before Avengers: Endgame Hits Theaters

Marvel Studios
Marvel Studios

Marvel fans in need of a little cash, listen up: CableTV.com, an online resource for finding the best TV, internet, and phone services, has posted a listing for what they've deemed "The Marvel Movie Marathon Dream Job." Just ahead of Avengers: Endgame's arrival in theaters on April 26, the company is looking for an individual to watch all 20 released Marvel Cinematic Universe movies back to back.

“Do you have the endurance of Iron Man?," the listing reads. "The tenacity of Captain America? The leisure time of Ant-Man? Then CableTV.com has a mission for you." The best part? The chosen individual will get paid $1000 for their time and will receive a bundle of MCU merchandise as well.

You may be asking: Why would a company want to pay someone to binge-watch a handful of movies they're probably already planning to watch on their own? Well, they’re also requesting that the selected viewer live-tweet their experience in collaboration with CableTV.com, then meet up after the MCU marathon and “share your takeaways from the movies so we can make some beautiful, badass rankings together.”

The competition is bound to be fierce for this job, and the application period will end on April 15, 2019—so don't delay in submitting yours here.

11 Surprising Facts About George R.R. Martin

Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Game of Thrones fans know the epic HBO series is based on George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire book series, but beyond the TV show, how much do they really know about the author? Sure, they know it’s taking him a really long time to finish The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in the series, but what about him as a person? Here are a few things you might not know about the man who brought us the world of Westeros.

1. As a kid, he made money selling monster stories.

The famed author grew up in Bayonne, New Jersey, where his father was a longshoreman. "When I was living in Bayonne, I desperately wanted to get away," Martin told The Independent. "Not because Bayonne was a bad place, mind you. Bayonne was a very nice place in some ways. But we were poor. We had no money. We never went anywhere."

Though his family didn't have the means to travel outside of Bayonne, Martin began to develop a love of reading and writing at a very young age, which allowed him to imagine fantastical worlds beyond his New Jersey hometown. He also learned that writing could be a profitable endeavor: he began selling his stories to other kids in the neighborhood for a penny apiece. (He later raised his prices to a nickel.) Martin's entrepreneurial efforts came to an end when his stories began giving one of his kid customers nightmares, which eventually got back to Martin's mom.

2. He is obsessed with comic books.

In 2014, Martin sat down for a Q&A about his career at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. Though, given his love of fantasy worlds, it might not be surprising to learn that Martin is a comic book fan, he also credits the genre with inspiring him to begin writing in the first place.

"I’m so grateful for comic books because they were really the thing that made me a reader, which in return made me a writer," Martin said. "In the 1950s in America, we had these books that taught you to read, and they were all about Dick and Jane, who were the most boring family you ever wanted to meet ... I didn’t know anyone who lived like that, and it just seemed like a horrible thing. But Batman and Superman, they had a much more interesting life. Gotham City was much more interesting than wherever it was where Dick and Jane lived.”

3. He built a library tower in Santa Fe.

In 2009, Martin bought the home across the street from his house in Santa Fe, New Mexico and turned it into an office space with a library tower built inside. The tower is only two stories tall, because of city building restrictions, but it seems only fitting that the author/history buff would want to be surrounded with books while he writes.

4. A fan letter got his professional writing career started.

Martin's love of comic books is what got his professional career rolling, too. "I had a letter published in Fantastic Four, and because my address was in there I started getting these fanzines and I started writing stories for them," Martin said during the same Santa Fe Q&A. "Funny enough, people writing stories in these fanzines at the time were just awful. They were just really bad, which was good because I looked at these awful stories and knew I could do better than that. I may not have been Shakespeare or J.R.R. Tolkien, but I was certain I could write better than the crap in the fanzines, and indeed I could."

5. A failed novel led to a television writing career.

More than 10 years before A Song of Ice and Fire debuted in 1996, Martin wrote a book called The Armageddon Rag in 1983. Though it was a critical disappointment, producer Phil DeGuere was interested in adapting the project with Martin's help. While that never came to fruition, DeGuere thought of Martin when they were rebooting The Twilight Zone in the mid-1980s and brought him on board to write a handful of episodes. He later did some writing for the live-action Beauty and the Beast series, starring Ron Perlman and Linda Hamilton.

6. Network television standards were not a fit for Martin's style of writing.

Though Martin found success as a television writer, the constant back-and-forth about what they were or were not allowed to show proved to be too much for the writer. "[T]here were constant limitations. It wore me down," Martin told Rolling Stone. "There were battles over censorship, how sexual things could be, whether a scene was too 'politically charged,' how violent things could be. Don’t want to disturb anyone. We got into that fight on Beauty and the Beast. The Beast killed people. That was the point of the character. He was a beast. But CBS didn’t want blood, or for the beast to kill people ... The character had to remain likable."

7. He owns an independent movie theater.

In 2006, The Jean Cocteau Cinema in Santa Fe closed its doors, which saddened many locals who were regular patrons, Martin among them. Several years later, Martin decided to give the theater a second life and, after a slight makeover, reopened its doors in 2013. Today, in addition to independent films, the theater holds regular special events—including screenings of Game of Thrones episodes. There's also an onsite bar that serves Game of Thrones-themed cocktails, like the signature White Walker.

8. Martin credits HBO with changing the rules of television.

Network television standards may have been too tame and regimented for Martin's tastes, but all that changed with HBO and The Sopranos, which he credits as paving the way for a series like Game of Thrones to exist in its current form at all.

"I credit HBO with smashing the damn trope that everybody had to be likable on television," Martin told Rolling Stone. "The Sopranos turned it around. When you meet Tony Soprano, he’s in the psychiatrist office, he’s talking about the ducks, his depression and that stuff, and you like this guy. Then he gets in his car and he’s driving away and he sees someone who owes him money, and he jumps out and he starts stomping him. Now how likable was he? Well you didn’t care, because they already had you. A character like Walter White on Breaking Bad could never have existed before HBO."

9. Martin thinks it's important for writers to break the rules.

While he's an admitted fan of William Goldman, Martin has a very different opinion of noted screenplay expert Syd Field. "There is a book out there by Syd and it’s his guide to writing screenplays and it’s probably one of the most harmful things that has ever been done for the movie industry,” Martin said. “For some perverse reason, it has become the bible not for writers but for what we call 'the suits,' the guys at the studios whose job it is to develop properties and give notes to supervise screenplays. They take Syd Field’s course and they buy the book and they start criticizing screenplays like, ‘Well you know, the first turn is supposed to be on page 12 and yours is not until page 17, so obviously this won’t do!'"

"Syd just writes downs these ridiculous rules," Martin continued. "If there really was a formula as he says, then every movie would be a blockbuster. We would just connect A, B, and C and we would have a great movie and everyone would pack the theater to see it. But every movie is not a blockbuster. Many movies that follow his rules precisely actually go down the toilet."

10. He’s a skilled chess player.

"I started playing chess when I was quite young, in grade school," Martin told The Independent. "I played it through high school. In college, I founded the chess club. I was captain of the chess team." Eventually, Martin discovered that he could actually make some money off this skill.

"For two or three years, I had a pretty good situation. Most writers who have to have a day job work five days a week and then they have the weekend off to write. These chess tournaments were all on the weekend so I had to work on Saturday and Sunday, but then I had five days off to write. The chess generated enough money for me to pay my bills."

11. He has a very specific way of writing, which is why he hasn't finished the winds of winter.

Fans have been waiting for a while for the next book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, and Martin has been honest about why it's taking him so long. "Writer’s block isn’t to blame here, it’s distraction," he said. "In recent years, all of the work I’ve been doing creates problems because it creates distraction. Because the books and the show are so popular I have interviews to do constantly. I have travel plans constantly. It’s like suddenly I get invited to travel to South Africa or Dubai, and who’s passing up a free trip to Dubai? I don’t write when I travel. I don’t write in hotel rooms. I don’t write on airplanes. I really have to be in my own house undisturbed to write. Through most of my life no body did bother me, but now everyone bothers me every day."

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