Matt Smith Almost Played Merlin in the Colin Morgan-Led Fantasy TV SeriesSeptember 21, 2018
In fact, the very first time he and future DW co-star Karen Gillan met was "for something else." He went on to explain, "We got down to the last two for a show, and then we got Doctor Who, and that show was Merlin.”
Brr! We just felt a breeze coming off those sliding doors... what if!?
The role ultimately went to Colin Morgan, who nailed it. And we can't really imagine anyone else playing the character.
Now, one of the show's creators, Johnny Capps, has elaborated on how the decision came to be. He makes the reveal in a Radio Times feature on the making of Merlin.
It was a tough decision, he says: "Casting Merlin was really really hard because you needed to find an actor who had a really big, broad playing range, but also could handle the fact that it’s not naturalistic drama.
“So you couldn’t have an actor who was just going to play it in an incredibly earnest, real way. You wanted somebody that could find the truth, but also find the truth as it exists in that kind of fantasy world.”
Both Morgan and Smith had the "lightness and skill to play that sort of family drama," according to Capps. It really came down to one thing; Morgan had a that baby face look, which would help him portray a believable teenage wizard (he's supposed to be about 18 in the pilot episode).
"We just felt that [Matt] was too old – not that he wasn’t great. And he was too old, really," Capps admits. If you're curious, Smith was 25 at the time the series premiered in 2008, while Morgan was 22.
Ouch! That's gotta sting. But, at the end of the day, if Smith had won the role, someone else would almost certainly have been cast as the Eleventh Doctor. There go those sliding doors again...
Are you happy Matt Smith didn't get the role as Merlin?