Five Intriguing Facts About David Tennant
Throughout his career, Around the World in 80 Days star David Tennant has appeared in quite a few blockbuster franchises. Harry Potter? Check. Doctor Who? Check. Marvel series Jessica Jones? Check. How about kids’ series like DuckTales or Star Wars: The Clone Wars? Check and check. Learn all about Tennant’s extraordinary career, how he became David Tennant, and the role that changed his entire life.
No, David Tennant is Not His Real Name.
The Scottish actor was born as David John McDonald, but when he was breaking into the world of entertainment, there was already a David McDonald registered with the actors union. So, David went from a McDonald to a Tennant, taking the inspiration for the name from Neil Tennant of the Pet Shop Boys, and eventually made the name change official in the 2000s.
“Its that actor’s thing, where if you join the actors’ union, if there’s already somebody with that name you have to change it,” the actor explained on The Late Late Show with James Corden.
“I did my first job at 16 – at 16 years old I didn’t know actors, I didn’t know how you chose a name. So I flicked through a music magazine. So I’m sort of named after Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys! I mean not explicitly, I’m not related to him. I was just leafing through a magazine and thought, ‘What am I going to call myself?’ It could have been Sade!”
It could’ve gone a lot worse — he knows. “Asking a 16-year-old to change their name… I could have been anything. Bojangles McDuff!” (It does have a ring to it, doesn’t it?)
He’s Even Been Featured on Postage Stamps!
He’s been on your TV, you’ve seen him on the big screen…and also on your mail? That’s right. The award-winning actor can also boast that he has not one, but two different postage stamps featuring him! The first time was in 2011, when the Royal Shakespeare Company celebrated its 50th anniversary. The Royal Mail debuted a series of stamps featuring images from RSC productions throughout the years, including Tennant as Hamlet — a role for which he won a number of awards in 2009, including a Critics’ Circle Theatre Award; an Evening Standard Theatre Award; and a Theatregoers’ Choice Award.
Tennant originally joined the RSC in 1996, taking the lead role in Romeo and Juliet, and later played Touchstone in As You Like It and Antipholus of Syracuse in Comedy of Errors, and eventually Richard II, as well. His performance as Hamlet was described by The Guardian as “theatrical history in the making” and “the best and most intelligent Hamlet of recent times.”
Then, in 2013, Tennant’s face was once again featured on a stamp — this time, on a special, 50th anniversary stamp for Doctor Who, along with all the actors who’d played the infamous Doctor before him.
His Dream Role Was a Dream Come True.
Tennant may be known for many of his iconic roles over the years — but the one that he’s known best for was the one that skyrocketed him to fame in the first place: the role of the 10th Doctor on the long-running mega-hit Doctor Who from 2005 to 2010. The series was also the very series that inspired him to be an actor in the first place, when he was just a kid in Scotland.
“I think it was for everyone in my generation; growing up, it was just part of the cultural furniture in Britain in the Seventies and Eighties,” he told Rolling Stone.
Some kids love Superman or Batman — but Tennant recalled most loving the Doctor when he was young. “I did like superheroes too but Doctor Who was my great passion when I was a kid,” he told Big Issue. “Maybe because I could identify with that character. I could never identify with the Incredible Hulk, though I loved the comics. But the Doctor felt like someone I could aspire to being like. And maybe he’d want to hang out with me too.”
The news that would change his career — his whole life, really — came just days before his 34th birthday in 2004, when he was officially named as the successor to Christopher Eccleston in the role. In his statement to the press at that time, he said, “I grew up loving Doctor Who and it has been a lifelong dream to get my very own TARDIS.”
In a Radio Times poll from 2020, fans cast over 50,000 votes and crowned Tennant as their favorite Doctor of all-time. Jodie Whitaker, the most recent Doctor and the first female Doctor in the series’ history, was a close second.
Doctor Who Didn't Just Bring Him Fame...It Also Brought Him Love!
What more could a guy want than to land his dream role? Well, to meet the love of his life! In 2008, actress Georgia Moffett had a guest role on the show as the Doctor’s artificially created daughter, Jenny. In 2011, just 3 years later, Tennant and Moffett married, and are now parents to 5 children.
“Because Doctor Who had run through my life like a stick of rock, to end up marrying the daughter of one of the doctors, it all felt a bit stupid – there were a lot of things against it,” Tennant told host Gaby Roslin on a podcast, as reported by The Independent.
Moffett confessed that she was the one pursuing Tennant : “Had I not worked quite so hard, it might not have happened.” (Thank goodness it did!)
Tennant, of course, feels like he “lucked out” meeting Moffett. “You reach a point of your life when you’re looking for someone and it’s sort of chance which version of that perfect partner ambles along.”
What makes the pair’s love story even more unique? Moffett may have played Tennant’s (grown) daughter, but in real life, she is the Doctor’s daughter. Her father, Peter Davison, played the 5th Doctor from 1981 to 1984 (the same year that Moffett was born).
While Tennant has become a household face on the screen, it’s possible he’s voiced some of your favorite animated characters, as well. Perhaps you’ve heard him as Scrooge McDuck in DuckTales. Or maybe in Star Wars: The Clone Wars as droid Huyang. Or was it from the hit animated film How to Train Your Dragon? Do you play video games and perhaps recognize his voice as Drostan Hynd from Call of Duty: World War II?
He’s done all of those, and then some. And, impressively, manages to fit those jobs in at the same time as some of his heavier on-screen work, such as when he was filming Broadchurch (along with Les Misérables star Olivia Colman) and DuckTales simultaneously. When asked by IndieWire in 2017 about bouncing back and forth between the two very different series, he simply answered: “Well you know, you just sort of do it, don’t you? You just kind of do the job that’s in front of you I suppose. You just find the tone. It’s all about finding the tone, I think.”