Matthew Robert Smith was born 28 October 1982 and is an English actor.
Smith was born in Northampton and is the son of Lynne and David Smith. He has a sister named Laura Jayne, who was one of the dancers featured in the well-known music video for Eric Prydz’s 2004 song “Call on Me”.
Smith attended Northampton School for Boys. His grandfather had played football for Notts County and Smith had also planned to play football, having played for the youth teams of Northampton Town, Nottingham Forest, and Leicester City, becoming captain of the latter’s youth team. A serious back injury resulted in spondylolysis, and he was unable to continue with a footballing career.
Smith’s cousin Leigh Killick, who taught drama at his school, introduced him to acting by signing him up for theatrical productions without his consent. After failing to participate on the first two occasions, Leigh arranged for him to play the tenth juror in an adaptation of Twelve Angry Men. Although he took part, he refused to attend a drama festival for which Leigh had also signed him up, as he saw himself as a football player and believed acting would damage his social life. Leigh persisted, eventually persuading him to join the National Youth Theatre in London. After leaving school, Smith studied Drama and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia, graduating in 2005. With the National Youth Theatre, he played Thomas Becket in Murder in the Cathedral and Bassoon in The Master and Margarita. His role in the latter earned him an agent and his first professional jobs, Fresh Kills and On the Shore of the Wide World, which led him to seek an agreement with his university so that he could graduate without attending lectures in his final year.
Smith’s first television role was as Jim Taylor in the BBC adaptations of the Sally Lockhart quartet books The Ruby in the Smoke and The Shadow in the North. His first major television role came in the television series Party Animals, a BBC drama series about fictional parliamentary advisors and researchers.
Smith was revealed as the Eleventh Doctor in the British science-fiction television series Doctor Who in January 2009 to replace David Tennant, who announced his departure in October 2008. Smith was a relatively unknown actor compared to the actors then speculated about possibly taking on the role. Smith was first named as a possible successor less than a day before he was announced as the Eleventh Doctor, on edition of 3 January 2009 of BBC Breakfast, among the names speculated about.
In June 2010, Smith appeared on stage with Orbital, and performed with them a version of the Doctor Who theme, at the Glastonbury Festival. Smith hosted the Doctor Who Prom at the Royal Albert Hall on 24–25 July 2010. On the morning of 26 May 2012, Smith carried the Olympic torch in Cardiff. In June 2013, the BBC announced that Smith would be leaving Doctor Who at the end of the 2013 Christmas special. He was succeeded by Peter Capaldi.
In June 2015, Smith was cast as Prince Philip in the Netflix royal drama The Crown. He played the role for the series’ first two seasons. In 2021, Smith appeared in the music videos for the songs “We’re On Our Way Now” and “Flying on the Ground” by Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. In 2020, he was cast as Daemon Targaryen in the series House of the Dragon, a prequel to the fantasy drama series Game of Thrones. The series premiered on 21 August 2022.
Smith was cast in Martin McDonagh’s black comedy crime In Bruges (2008), as the younger version of Ralph Fiennes’ character, but his scenes did not appear in the final cut of the film. He starred in the 2009 short film Together and the 2010 film Womb. In February 2013, it was reported that Smith had been cast in Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut Lost River, which was released in 2014. Smith’s directorial debut, the short film Cargese, was aired on Sky Arts in May 2013.
On 20 November 2014, it was announced that Smith would star in the action-thriller film Patient Zero. It was released in 2018. In January 2019, he joined the Sony’s Spider-Man Universe spin-off film Morbius as Milo, a living vampire, although he was initially announced to be portraying the supervillain Loxias Crown / Hunger. In February 2019, it was announced that he had joined the cast of Edgar Wright’s Last Night in Soho. The film was released in 2021.
During Smith’s tenure in On the Shore of the Wide World, the play transferred to the Royal National Theatre in London. After finishing the play, he took on the role of Lockwood, a pupil in the Alan Bennett play The History Boys. After The History Boys, he acted in the teen play Burn/Chatroom/Citizenship and with Christian Slater in Swimming with Sharks, the latter being his West End début.
In 2007, Smith appeared as Henry in the Polly Stenham play That Face at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs in Chelsea. The play transferred to the Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End in 2008 and became Smith’s second role there.
On 7 October 2013, it was announced Smith would play Patrick Bateman in the musical adaptation of American Psycho at London’s Almeida Theatre. The show began its run in December 2013.
Smith reunited with his The Crown co-star Claire Foy in a production of the Duncan Macmillan play Lungs at The Old Vic beginning in October 2019.
Smith is an atheist and an avid supporter of Blackburn Rovers FC.