All good things must come to an end, even if you’re an alien with the power to manipulate time and space. After three seasons of Doctor Who, Michelle Gomez is leaving the show. And even though Missy can’t seem to say anything nice on Doctor Who, the actor who plays her has nothing but nice things to say about her time in and around the TARDIS. As the news broke of Gomez’s impending departure at the end of Season 10, Inverse caught up with her to talk all things Master-related — including who she envisions as the next incarnation, how she’s coping with leaving the show, and becoming part of the Doctor Who legacy.
Playing opposite Peter Capaldi’s titular hero, Gomez is the eighth actor to portray the nefarious arch-nemesis of the Doctor, previously known as the Master. But in 2014, when the Master became the Mistress — or “Missy” — Gomez broke new ground, and she did it without any baggage from previous versions. “I tend not to think about anything too deeply, ever,” she jokes. “It sort of works very well for me in life; it’s called blind ignorance. It stops me being fearful about anything. John Simm’s Master, I think, was 10 years ago now, so that’s a decade of his choices that have come and gone, but it’s not relevant to my playing it today. That was my attempt at coming at it with fresh eyes.”
Those fresh eyes created a fan favorite — one who’s so popular she’s in every Capaldi season of Doctor Who. Her grand entrance in Season 10 will happen in the forthcoming sixth episode, “Extremis.” Fans of Missy and her ever-shifting allegiances won’t be disappointed, as the character continues to tease some potential do-gooding, and the idea that she actually wants to help the Doctor. “I think it gives her an interesting challenge to want to be good, to deal with the concept of goodness as something that’s alien to her, and that might be something that she might like to try on, or achieve,” Gomez explains. “I think that gives her madness and her wickedness a more interesting edge than if she’s just thoroughly bad all the time. I think that’s what makes her a glorious psychopath.”
As opposed to previous incarnations of the Master, Gomez’s Missy has a more playful, best frenemies forever vibe with the Doctor, something Gomez attributes to lucky casting. “Putting Peter and I together seemed to work so well, and it’s down to a kind of chemistry and a sort of comfortableness,” she says. “ We’re both from Glasgow. Steven [Moffat] is from Glasgow. There’s this wonderful shorthand between us that’s there without really saying anything.” Gomez thinks this trust allowed for nuances that wouldn’t have been possible with different colleagues. “There really was an exchange between Peter and I, and that doesn’t happen often in this business, so I’m really grateful for that,” she says.
That special camaraderie makes it both hard and easy for Gomez to leave the dream gig behind, but she’ll always treasure her time on the show. It’s the little things, like studying Capaldi between takes, that Gomez will miss the most.
“Peter didn’t know that I saw him doing this, but once I watched him stand and just look at his TARDIS. For me, to have that closeness, and to witness his realization of what his job is — and then to stand behind him and know that my job was to support that was a huge privilege,” she recalls. “It still sends tingles down my spine just to be part of it, and to see that [moment] was really very beautiful.”
Though this will be Gomez’s last regular season playing Missy on Doctor Who, she’s not ruling out some kind of return to the role. “You never know, you know?” she says laughing. “I’m quite sure Missy will pop up again in some way, shape, or form somewhere down the line, but for now, it’s the end of a chapter.” Fans are already clamoring for a Missy-themed spin-off called Missy Who, which Gomez supports completely, but suggests something with singing might be more her style. “I’d love to get maybe, like Missy The Musical,” she says. “Or Twisted Mary Poppins.”
Missy spin-off aside, Gomez can’t quite picture the next evolution of her infamous Who character. “I don’t want to say that I’m not replaceable,” says Gomez. However, in a matter of seconds, she’s blurting out her favorite contender for the next Master: “Maybe a rabid Chihuahua?”
With no logical sentient choices for her replacement, it begs a big question: Will Missy’s regeneration be depicted on screen? Compared to John Simm’s Master, Missy’s practically a series regular and has certainly earned that hallowed screen time.
“No, I’m not prepared for that,” Gomez says when asked if fans will see even a hint of regenerate on screen. “I don’t think any of us are.”
While Gomez would certainly give fans a scene as memorable as David Tennant’s “I don’t want to go!” farewell, she’s playing coy on what her exit will look like for now. Whatever it is, fans can rest assured that it will be just as grand and indelible as her entrance.
The next episode of Doctor Who — “Extremis” — will feature Missy’s return. It airs on BBC America on Saturday at 9 p.m. Eastern.