For nearly three years Michelle Gomez has delighted and horrified Doctor Who fans as Missy, the latest maniacal incarnation of the Master. But ahead of her return to the series in this weekend’s episode, we sat down to speak with her about how it might herald the final bow for her time on the show.
Gomez will make a re-appearance as part of this weekend’s sixth episode in season 10, “Extremis,” written by outgoing head writer Steven Moffat. While for now we can’t tell you just how Missy will factor into the Doctor’s latest adventure—for now; we’ll definitely talk about it in our recap on Monday—we did ask Gomez about what it’s been like being Peter Capaldi’s Master, her reaction to his departure at the end of the season, and what’s to come when John Simm’s Master returns to the show for a full-on Master crossover.
io9: When you were first cast as Missy on the show, did you ever think you would still be coming back, again and again, three seasons later?
Gomez: Well, absolutely! I think that, you know, this is the end of an era, given that Peter’s leaving and Steven’s leaving—and it feels like, you know—Scotland’s leaving BBC Wales! [laughs] It’s only right and proper that I must be leaving as well. It’s not official, mind, that I’m done and never coming back. It’s just... it feels like this is the end of a chapter. The end of an era. And you know, I’m quite sure Missy will pop up again at some point in the future. So that’s where we are for now. And you know I’ll forever be, faithfully, Peter Capaldi’s Master.
So, coming into season 10, how do you feel Missy and the 12th Doctor’s relationship has evolved?
Gomez: Well I sum it up in two words: fragile hostility. There’s a sort of fragility about how there’s a coldness [to her], and a distancing of what’s right and wrong [between them]. And you know, all that sort of good stuff is still there. But there seems to be another layer of vulnerability that is sort of distasteful with her at times, perhaps? And that’s up to the viewers to judge that.
It’s also been confirmed by the BBC that John Simm, who played the Master during David Tennant’s tenure, is coming back later in the season, and that you two will appear together. What’s it like for both of you to essentially be playing the same character?
Gomez: I think it’s really exciting to play two-in-one, as it were. That’s a bizarre acting challenge, for both of us. We’re both playing the same character, and we’re both there at the same time, and there was a lot of fun to be had with that—and hopefully that comes across on the screen.
So yeah, neither of us saw it coming. And like all things in Doctor Who, that’s how it should be. You know, there’s just always the element of surprise. And I think it works. I describe it as being odd, at times.
What was your reaction when Peter announced that he would be leaving at the end of this season?
Gomez: Well, all good things come to an end. Nothing stays the same. And it’s been three years. It seems to be the Doctor’s realm, is around three years. And it’s a massive job. It takes an incredible amount of stamina and good will and, you know, he’s been—and maybe I’m biased because, you know, I’m his Master—but I just think he’s one of the best Doctors we’ve had.
And that’s not to say the others haven’t been fantastic, but I’m fiendishly loyal to him, and his reading of it. I love the gravitas that he’s brought to it, and the humor, as well. He’s an incredibly funny man. I think it’s been incredibly successful. And it’s time to move on to something else, for him and the show.
What do you think has defined your time on the show the most? Do you have a particular favorite moment that you’ll always remember?
Gomez: I’m so spoiled for lots of favorite moments. I was really blessed with an incredible part with fantastic lines and she was just, you know, thrilling at being horrendously bad! And that’s a lot of fun. The villain is always a great part to play, ‘cause you get to film stuff that you really shouldn’t be allowed to say.
And so standout moments for me, would be my very first day on set... and snogging The Doctor. You know, I never thought that would happen in my lifetime! [laughs] Standing at the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral with a backdrop of Cybermen behind me. So many moments. Telling him “the bitch is back” is probably one of my favorite lines. For every scene [I was in], there was a favorite moment, for me. It’s probably one of the best parts I ever had.
Doctor Who ‘s tenth season continues this Saturday, May 20, on BBC America.