TimeGate Con 2015 was not just the first convention I ever attended, but it was also the first ever convention for one of its major guests: Michelle Gomez, the actress who portrayed Missy (a.k.a. The Mistress) in the latest season of Doctor Who. She was only there for one day of the con, but managed to do two delightful Q&A sessions, as well as signings and photo-ops. The Q&As discussed both her work on Doctor Who and some of the work that got her there, and I’ve pulled out the highlights for you below. Please note that this will include spoilers for Season 8 of Doctor Who, so read on with care!
Starting Out Her Career
Michelle Gomez said she got her start in acting by “showing off a lot at home and then [she] realized [she] could make money off of it.” When she was younger and doing theatre and taking herself quite seriously, she got upset when someone told her that one of her performances was funniest thing they’d seen, but that helped pushed her into doing comedy. She played Kate in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of Taming of the Shrew and when they cast her, she had never really read any Shakespeare before, but they put her through training for a few months. Gomez said that dream roles she has are probably mostly classic theatre stuff, such as Medea, Streetcar Named Desire, and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
On Becoming The Master
Gomez grew up watching Doctor Who, in the age of Tom Baker, and when asked who her favorite incarnation of The Master is, replied “Delgado” without any hesitation (suggesting she also saw a bit of John Pertwee’s Doctor as a child). Initially Gomez was cast to play another part in Season 8 (she wouldn’t reveal who) but was unable to travel to the UK for the filming of that part. She wrote a letter to Steven Moffat, and ended up as Missy instead!
In discussing the gender change from The Master to The Mistress, Gomez put it quite bluntly: “to put a vagina on The Master was a big deal.” Initially the fact that there might be some backlash didn’t even occur to her, but she appreciated that there really hasn’t been any. She said she didn’t really do research by watching previous incarnations of The Master, and instead strove to be original and let the script lead her. “Hopefully Missy stands on her own as something that’s being created freshly,” Gomez stated. An audience member asked how she balanced adding femininity to a traditionally masculine role. Gomez’s response? “Like any good bitch, I just peed all over ‘em.”
All About Missy
Gomez described the corseted suits she had to wear as Missy as “constricting” and stated “you’re fighting against it the whole time,” which was particularly interesting with Missy as a character who really can’t be constricted – her presentation is very much as odds with who she is. Gomez also joked that she would love to have Missy “bust out that corset one day, so start tweeting that.” When asked by an audience member to describe what Missy’s TARDIS would look like, Gomez held up her black leather handbag and said “something fabulous.”
She very carefully avoided giving anything away about the upcoming season, and explained that she doesn’t “actually know what’s going on.” She spoke a lot about what it’s been like working with Peter Capaldi as the Doctor, and explains that, as Glaswegians, they shared a bit of an instant bond. She was very complimentary to the fans dressed up in cosplay, joking with one Missy cosplayer: “Can I use you when I have a bad day? You’re like the better version of me, you look absolutely amazing.”
Her Experience With Fans
Gomez lives in Brooklyn and shared a story about going into a bakery, where the woman told her “Anything the Mistress wants, the Mistress gets,” and gave her her order for free. She jokes the bakery was “now out of business because I go there every day.” She said that she was “just kind of blown away” by attending TimeGate: “I’m feeling the love and it’s very nice indeed, thank you.” When asked what it was like coming in to a hotel and seeing dozens of people dressed like her, Gomez responded: “I think that’s how it should be. It’s my kind of universe.”
Throughout both Q&A sessions, Gomez was patient when fans wanted to hear things in her Scottish accent, or ask her detailed questions about her costume. She truly seemed to be enjoying herself, and the fans were enjoying having her there. When asked to give advice to aspiring artists, Gomez said: “Don’t give up… The world is abundant. There is enough for everyone.”