Nicole • May 08, 2013

New Jenna Photoshoot

“Doctor Who” star Jenna-Louise Coleman has been warned. She knows that two months from now, fans at Comic-Con International in San Diego will line up in the thousands, camping overnight outside the city’s convention center to secure seats for the annual panel devoted to the BBC TV sensation. Many will wield sonic screwdrivers or wear Dalek costumes, and more than a few will come dressed as Coleman’s character, Clara.

But back in March, the hype hadn’t caught up with her.

“Everyone wants to know, ‘Has your life changed since joining the show?’” Coleman said over a lunch of baby beets and tangerine at downtown Los Angeles’ Lazy Ox Canteen. “And I’m like, ‘No, not really.’ I just go to Cardiff, and I do mad things and experience mad stuff on set, and then I come back to my London life, which suddenly seems more boring because I’ve been blasting Cybermen.”

Though “Doctor Who” is something of a British institution, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, stateside the series about the eccentric time-traveling alien has long been relegated to the realm of cultish fandom. But with its 2005 revival and reboot, the show has enjoyed a crossover into the American mainstream, drawing more than 2 million viewers for its BBC America midseason premiere this March.

The current season wraps up May 18, marking the third space tour for Matt Smith as the Doctor, the 11th actor to play the character in the series over the decades, and the first for Coleman’s Clara Oswald, the latest in a long line of so-called companions, partners who travel with the Doctor to assist him in his Earth-saving and otherworldly sleuthing.

Like many companions throughout the show’s history, Clara serves as an audience surrogate, helping make the show’s outlandish story lines — which can involve alien races, other planets and futuristic technology — become more relatable to viewers.

“It’s normally me being like, ‘What? Why? How?’” Coleman said, chuckling. “I’m more of the audience asking, and Matt has the dialogue and the jargon. I’m very much the human.”

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