10 'Things' You Never Knew About 'Doctor Who' and 'A Discovery of Witches' Star Alex Kingston
You probably know Alex Kingston as River Song in Doctor Who, or Sarah Bishop in A Discovery of Witches, or Dr. Elizabeth Corday in ER, or Dinah Lance in Arrow, or Moll Flanders in The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders... We could go on. She's had a lot of great roles over the years. But as she celebrates her 58th birthday Thursday (March 11), let's take some time to get to know this fantastic actress a little better.
1. She's proud of her German heritage.
Kingston was born and brought up in the town of Epsom, near London, to Anthony Kingston, an English butcher, and his German wife, Margarethe Renneisen. Her maternal uncle, Walter Renneisen, is a prominent German actor who founded his own touring theater company.
2. She's super-humble about her prolific career.
“I don’t know if it is a good thing or not," Kingston told The Times in 2019, "but I have never been particularly pushy. I know there are actors, male and female, who really are on the front foot when it comes to their careers and networking. I just can’t do that. I find it kind of embarrassing."
She added candidly: "There is a part of me that has had to reconcile to the fact that maybe my career didn’t go where it might have, but, at the same time, I’ve done fine. I’ve managed to pay the bills and support everybody, so that’s not bad. I still have a life. I clean the house, I walk the dog — I think that’s really important. I want to be a regular person, and sometimes that means you don’t get the jobs.”
3. During a night out in Atlanta, Georgia, she happened upon a Doctor Who-themed burlesque show.
“The dancer started as William Hartnell," Kingston told The i. "She had his black tuxedo coat and a cravat. She took that off and underneath that she was Tom Baker in a big scarf. Then she took that off to reveal she had Peter Davison’s cricket whites on underneath. Then she took that off, and she was David Tennant in his little pin-stripey jacket.”
Kingston continued: “She must have been boiling. Under that, she was Matt Smith in a bow tie and a fez. Next she took off Matt, and she was the Tardis. She had Tardis blue sequinned pasties over her nipples and a tiny sequinned G string in Tardis blue. It was so unexpected and hilarious. It illustrates an obsessive love with that world."
Frankly, it sounds like quite an incredible performance – if only there was video footage!
4. She once caused her Doctor Who co-star Matt Smith a moment of, um, rather intimate discomfort.
“One of the most memorable parts of filming," she told London's Evening Standard last year, "was when I flew through the universe, got caught in the Tardis and by mistake kneed Matt Smith, who was playing the Doctor at the time, in the nuts. There were a few tears of laughter from me and cries of pain from him.”
5. She auditioned for Felicity Huffman's role in Desperate Housewives.
According to Today, she told London's Evening Standard in 2006: "I didn't get the part, and I know why: irrespective of acting ability, I'm just way too big."
6. She had 13 rounds of IVF before becoming pregnant with her daughter, Salome, who is now 19 years old.
"It was very tough. You are so desperate, you don’t really understand what the long-term side effects can be," she told the Mail on Sunday in 2014. "That’s what they don’t tell you in the medical profession. I put on weight with all the IVF – it’s insidious because it happens so slowly and then it’s almost impossible to get rid of it. I was also perimenopausal very early; I have no proof, but I feel that it was linked to the IVF and the different hormones I was taking. There are things that I think aren’t fully explained to women when they are going through all that."
7. As a baby, Salome played Ella Greene, the daughter of Kingston's character Elizabeth and Anthony Edwards' Mark Greene on ER.
In this super-cute clip, you can check out Ella's "first steps" on the show.
8. She wants to cause trouble for 007... a lot of it.
“I would love to be a villain in a James Bond movie, the real villain, the main one," she told the Sunday Post earlier this month. "Because they’ve never had a female villain. And I want to be a villain who does not find James Bond sexy at all. And doesn’t succumb to his charms, I want to be his real nemesis.”
9. When her ER contract wasn't renewed in 2004, Kingston – who was 41 at the time – suggested ageism may have been partly to blame.
"I suddenly felt very old surrounded by these young twentysomethings. Does it mean that I'm the geriatric that's being pushed out because she's too old?" Kingston said in an interview with the Radio Times, according to The Guardian.
Saying that the show "definitely seems to be taking a different tone," Kingston added: "I understand it needs to keep reinventing itself in order to keep going, and apparently I, according to the producers, the writers, am part of the old fogeys who are no longer interesting. In that respect it's a shame."
10. She's written her own River Song novel.
Yes, really! It's called The Ruby's Curse, features River Song and her alter ego Melody Malone, and publishes May 21. Kingston said in a press release: "Having absolutely no idea of the journey I would be taking with River Song when I first uttered those words, ‘Hello Sweetie,’ I cannot begin to express how excited I am to be able to continue not only River, but Melody’s adventures on the written page. A sassy private detective and a time traveling archaeologist joining forces to solve a mystery? What’s not to love!?”
What kind of role would you like to see Alex Kingston play next?