Now that Matt Smith is leaving Doctor Who, the internet is abuzz with rumours about his replacement. But this time, let’s go with a Welshman.

If you check Twitter, Doctor Who fans are pretty much in synonymous agreement that Matt Smith has been one of the best Doctors the show has ever had. And it’s going to be hard to find a worthy replacement.

Some fans are clamoring for an established genre actor like Benedict Cumberbatch, Idris Elba, or Damien Lewis, while others hope to see Doctor Who return to older, more serious Doctors like Christopher Lee or John Noble (forget the fact that he’s Australian, he’d be amazing).

Still, others are suggesting more radical options: Rupert Grint. David Tennant (again). A woman. Can you believe it? (Actually yes, we can, but that’s another article for another time.)

However, everyone seems to be overlooking a very significant, important factor: in all his regenerations, the Doctor has been many things… but he has never been Welsh.

Doctor Who has a lot of ties to Wales, of course. It films there, for one thing. The original reboot showrunner Russell T. Davies is Welsh, and had Rose and the Doctor traipsing off to Cardiff every chance they got (and even when they were in London, hey, it was still Cardiff).

Doctor Who is such a thoroughly British institution, it seems preposterous to imagine that it would ever cast a non-Brit in the role of the Doctor (although again, let’s all just think of John Noble’s name at the same time, just to see if that old season 3 mind-magic really works).

And yet, for all its Britishness, the only Doctor who has ever been anything but English was Sylvester McCoy. McCoy got to use his Scottish accent for the part, but in the reboot-era, Scottish actor David Tennant had to put on an English accent.

And that’s a shame. There is a tendency both in Britain and America to standardise accents on film and television, but Britain is so much more than just England. And since we’ve got this huge international hit on our hands, let’s continue this trend of showcasing Britain and the range of Britishness (that isn’t just Englishness) to the world – and move on to Wales!

Ioan Gruffudd

Doctor Who Welsh Ioan Gruffudd

Although Gruffudd (aged 39) has been trying to establish himself in America with Fantastic Four and shows like Ringer and Castle, his Welsh roots run deep. (He played Lancelot in King Arthur, for crying out loud.)

He is a native speaker, and is considered one of Wales’ most prominent actors. The fact that he is so recognizable in the States would hardly hurt either, considering that Doctor Who is rapidly gaining in popularity over there.

Of course Gruffudd is hardly whimsical. But perhaps it’s time to move away from the silly Doctors, considering that he will be transitioning into the Valeyard? Gruffudd might be the man for the job.

Rhys Ifans

Doctor Who Welsh Rhys Ifans

Not only is Ifans Welsh, but he is also ginger! It’s like a two-for-one special! The 45-year-old actor/musician is best known for his roles as Xenophilius Lovegood in Harry Potter and The Lizard in Spider-Man, and we think he’d be a great choice for the Doctor.

Like Gruffudd, Ifans isn’t exactly whimsical – but he can be wide-eyed, crazed and desperate, as we saw in Deathly Hallows, while remaining calm and carefully, intensely controlled. Ifans is a perfect fit for Doctor Who if the show is indeed going to be moving down a darker path next year.

And another great thing about Ifans is that in some ways, he kind of feels like an older era Doctor; we can’t quite explain why, but there’s something about him which reminds us of Tom Baker and/or Peter Davison.

John Rhys-Davies

Doctor Who Welsh John Rhys-Davies

Talk about going back to classic-era Who! John Rhys-Davies (aged 69) is one of the most talented, versatile British actors of our time, with blockbusters such as The Lord of the Rings, James Bond and Indiana Jones under his belt.

Rhys-Davies is one of those big-name British actors whom you would assume had appeared in Doctor Who at some point as a guest star, but he hasn’t yet – maybe because he’s simply too big of a name for the show. But no one is too big to play the Doctor himself, and if Rhys-Davies picked up the mantle, he would just bring so much class to the series.

We think this is one of the few actors who could truly capture the feel of the original Doctor (William Hartnell), while still putting his own very unique and memorable spin on the role. And let’s not forget that Rhys-Davies is funny. Remember Gimli – or Treebeard, for that matter?!

Here’s an actor who’s got the pedigree, the talent, and the comedic timing to pull off such a complex, conflicted character. His Doctor would be at once edgy and serious, yet quirky and maybe a little bumbling. In other words, Rhys-Davies would be pretty close to perfect.

Iwan Rheon

Doctor Who Welsh Iwan Rheon

Let’s not forget to consider the younger generation of Welsh actors, too. 28-year-old Iwan Rheon is best known for his role on Misfits, although Game of Thrones fans will shudder at the mention of his name considering he currently plays Theon’s ruthless (and so far nameless) torturer.

Rheon may be younger than the other candidates mentioned so far, but he is no less intense. In many of his roles, you’ll find him desperate, wild-eyed and borderline mad, and it is always a shock when you see him do an interview and realise that he’s not really like that at all. He just pulls off that tortured, imbalanced insanity really well.

In fact, Rheon reminds us a little bit of Matt Smith in his ability to take his character to truly dark, disturbing places one moment, and then turning light-hearted and innocent the next.

This resemblance in acting styles might not be a bad thing, considering how badly fans are taking the news of Smith’s departure. Add to this that Rheon also somewhat physically resembles Smith, and he might be the perfect replacement if the executives decide that they don’t want to scare Who fans off with a completely different type of actor.

If the story is going to continue along the same lines as during Smith’s reign as the Doctor, Rheon would be a good choice to keep a similar feel and tone. And at the same time, in terms of amping up the intensity, Rheon would be more than up for the challenge.

Alexander Vlahos

Doctor Who Welsh Alexander Vlahos

Our youngest choice on the list, Alex Vlahos (aged 24) would usher in a whole new era of Doctor Who. Plus, Vlahos actually wants the part!

Despite his recent roles on Merlin (where he played Mordred), Privates and The Indian Doctor, Vlahos is still a relative unknown, forging his path as an actor.

We like the idea of the new Doctor being someone whom the audience can watch build his character’s identity from scratch, rather than being associated with past roles from the get-go.

Considering that John Hurt will appear as “The Doctor” (whether it’s a past or a future regeneration) in the 50th Anniversary Special, the stark contrast between him and a Doctor as young as Vlahos would be jarring – but not necessarily in a bad way.

Some fans might argue that Vlahos’ Doctor would be much too young considering the dark days ahead, but here’s a counter-argument: maybe the darker storyline actually requires a Doctor who has never felt older, yet has never looked younger.

Vlahos is certainly one of the most promising and talented young Welsh actors around, and if the role of the Doctor is going to go to someone in his age range, he’d be our top choice (Welsh or otherwise).

Michael Sheen

Doctor Who Welsh Michael Sheen

Now we’re getting wild! 44-year-old Michael Sheen (no relation to Charlie) can boast a packed resume which spans pretty much every genre, from Twilight to Henry V.

Sheen is best known for playing politicians and crooks; he’s got a knack for playing ominous, almost sleazy villains, and because the majority of Doctor Who‘s adult viewers would recognize him from one or more of these roles, we’d suddenly have a very different kind of Doctor on our hands: one we might not instinctively trust.

This would certainly be an interesting approach to the character, and open up the story in new and exciting ways. One of the Doctor’s most consistent qualities across all of his regenerations is his ability to make people do what he says. He appears somewhere in time or on a random planet, says something along the lines of, “Trust me, I’m the Doctor,” and people usually do.

But what if they didn’t? What if potential companions weren’t falling over themselves to follow him into the TARDIS? What if past allies turned against him, because he suddenly looked and felt like someone who maybe didn’t have their best interest at heart?

Michael Sheen is a brilliant, versatile actor, who could turn the anger and frustration the Doctor would feel after such experiences into something gripping and intense – and before you knew it, we’d be at Trenzalore. The story practically writes itself.

Anthony Hopkins

Doctor Who Welsh Anthony Hopkins

You knew we had to go there. 75-year-old superstar (can we call him that? We just really want to) Anthony Hopkins should already have played the Doctor 10 times over if the role went to iconic British actors.

Hopkins is of course best known for playing Hannibal Lecter in the Hannibal movies (he won an Oscar for his performance in The Silence of the Lambs), but we can’t forget his quually memorable roles in adventure classics such as The Mask of Zorro, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Legends of the Fall.

Anthony Hopkins as Doctor Who? Now that would make headlines. Would he ever agree to it? Unlikely. But just for fun, let’s say that he did. Say he contacted the BBC and went, “Hey guys, mind if I take a spin in the TARDIS?” Not even Steven Moffat could overrule that.

Like with John Rhys-Davies, Hopkins as an older Doctor would bring us back to the good old days of classic Who. We’d have someone commanding, frail yet strong-willed, hardened from battle, and maybe a little bit tired of it all.

Don’t forget River Song’s words in season 5, upon seeing Eleven for the first time (for him): “It’s so strange when you go all baby-face.” Unless she was referring to John Hurt’s Doctor (or… unless this line means nothing because we’ll never see River again, but we refuse to accept the possibility), this strongly indicates that we will indeed see an older Doctor. So why not dream big?

As you can see, there is plenty of talented Welsh actors who would make great Doctors in future Doctor Who series. If the BBC’s stealthy publicity team has their way, we probably won’t learn the face of Twelve until Christmas 2013, so until then, we’ll have to keep speculating!

Which Welsh actor could you see as the next ‘Doctor Who’?

The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

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The first two cast members for Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Lion King have been announced by director Jon Favreau.

James Earl Jones, who voiced Mufasa in the animated movie in the ’90s, is returning as the character in the live-action adaptation. Interesting!

Meanwhile, Donald Glover — who will co-star in this summer’s Spider-Man: Homecoming for Disney and Marvel — will play Adult Simba.

Favreau tweeted the news Friday evening:

According to a statement from Disney, The Lion King “will build on the groundbreaking technology used in The Jungle Book to bring the story of Simba to photorealistic life.”

A release date for the film hasn’t been set. Favreau also helmed the live-action Jungle Book for the studio.

So far casting is off to a great start!

What Disney can learn from the 2009 Chinese live-action ‘Mulan’

Here's what 'Hua Mulan' got right

4:30 pm EST, February 17, 2017

Disney seems to have a long-term plan to churn out live-action versions of its most popular animations, and Mulan is the latest of its projects. The live-action version of the Chinese legend is already getting us excited, but many people don’t know that an excellent live-action Mulan movie already exists, made by a Chinese studio.

Hua Mulan (sometimes translated as Mulan: Rise of a Warrior) is a 2009 film by director Jingle Ma. It tells the story of Hua Mulan, a young woman who goes to war instead of her aging father, and rises in the army’s ranks. It won many awards in China, and stars Wei Zhao as Mulan.

Disney’s Mulan wasn’t favorably received in China when it was released, with audiences saying it was too different from the original legend, and too Westernized. Now would be a good time for the studio to make the film as globally appealing as it can be — and Hua Mulan is a perfect example of how to do our favorite female warrior justice.

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Disney seems to have a long-term plan to churn out live-action versions of its most popular animations, and Mulan is the latest of its projects. The live-action version of the Chinese legend is already getting us excited, but many people don’t know that an excellent live-action Mulan movie already exists, made by a Chinese studio.

Hua Mulan (sometimes translated as Mulan: Rise of a Warrior) is a 2009 film by director Jingle Ma. It tells the story of Hua Mulan, a young woman who goes to war instead of her aging father, and rises in the army’s ranks. It won many awards in China, and stars Wei Zhao as Mulan.

Disney’s Mulan wasn’t favorably received in China when it was released, with audiences saying it was too different from the original legend, and too Westernized. Now would be a good time for the studio to make the film as globally appealing as it can be — and Hua Mulan is a perfect example of how to do our favorite female warrior justice.

Here are some things Hua Mulan got right that Disney would do well to learn from.

hua mulan decision

Bringing more realism to the legend

Hua Mulan follows a plot that is more loyal to the original legend of Mulan, which states that she was a warrior for the Chinese army for over a decade. In the film, she even becomes a General, and retires with the nation’s respect, even after her identity as a woman is revealed.

Seeing Mulan lead thousands of men in Hua Mulan is a rare and empowering experience. Her struggles as a woman in a position of power, and the various dilemmas that come with commanding such a large number of people, are what bring intensity and meaning to the story. Mulan itself explored the concept of honor and femininity as well, but we only got a very small glimpse at the power that the legendary Mulan is said to have actually wielded.

While Disney may not want to make a movie that ventures too far from a family friendly atmosphere by portraying a Mulan who goes to war too realistically (as in, showing her killing enemies), it would be great to see her rise in the ranks and revolutionize such a male-dominated space the way she is said to have done.

hua mulan warrior

Not shying away from the grit — but not making it too grim, either

Hua Mulan does an excellent job of skirting the line between grim tragedy and friendly comedy. With thousands of extras, the battle scenes are as breathtaking and inspiring as they are horrifying. There’s a scene where Mulan counts the dog tags of all the fallen soldiers, and a considerable amount of time is spent exploring her despair and responsibility as the army’s struggle becomes more desperate. The emotional rawness of the story creates a very real, very flawed, yet very lovable Mulan — and takes audiences on an exploration of heroism, perseverance, and honor.

Of course, we can’t expect Disney to go all out with blood and grit — they’re bound to bring out Mushu, after all — but Disney prides itself on epic battles and fantastic special effects, and they’ll want to serve us war scenes as breathtaking and realistic as possible.

However, we’re all tired of grittiness for grittiness’ sake. Despite the heaviness of the more emotional scenes of Hua Mulan, there is sweetness and humor. The friendships in the army, much like those of Disney’s version, can be laugh-out-loud funny, and the scenes of Mulan’s struggle to preserve her male appearance are equally fun to watch.

Related: Disney’s live action Mulan lands female director

After all, audiences won’t be going to see Mulan to see war and sadness — the animated version was fun and adventurous, and although it had somber moments, it still managed to keep things just lighthearted enough for us to not get too sad. With animation, that lightheartedness is an easier task; portraying war with real actors could prove a more difficult challenge.

Establishing more depth in the main relationship

In Hua Mulan, Mulan and Wentai’s relationship is beautiful, but it builds over a long period of time, and strengthens through their mutual respect as they both struggle to lead an army. Their love is based on that combination of trust built over time, and shared responsibility.

Shang and Mulan have what is possibly one of the best relationships Disney has ever come up with. Among the Disney ‘princesses,’ Mulan and Shang probably have the greatest chemistry and story of all, and scenes from the animated film continue to be shipping fuel. Presumably, they’ll want to replicate this relationship in the new live-action version.

However, the animated film was sadly limited to only a few glimpses of the developing relationship. It would be amazing if we could see more of the friendship between Shang and Mulan (as Ping) and how it becomes something more. It’s rare in a ‘princess’ movie to see romance begin with sincere friendship, and it’ll be interesting to see how they deal with the confusion regarding Mulan’s gender in both a funny and profound way.

Giving it a more realistic conclusion

There are some scenes that could do with a makeover, especially at the very end. Mulan’s final trick to kill Shan Yu — by dressing three soldiers in drag and having them attempt to distract him — is hilarious in the animation, but would come off as strange and unrealistic in a live-action movie, and perhaps even a little offensive.

Hua Mulan’s approach to defeating the enemy is a much more powerful one. Although it equals Mulan in stealth and cleverness, it involves realistic strategy and power dynamics, and finally involves her making a deal that saves China through negotiation, rather than war — and making a terribly painful personal sacrifice.

Disney has a penchant for epic final battle scenes, but that isn’t what happens in either Mulan or Hua Mulan. In both cases, it’s Mulan’s cleverness that saves the day. It would be great to see that cleverness translated into a realistic solution, in the same way it does in Hua Mulan.

It’s not like Disney hasn’t subverted its own canon, after all. In Maleficient, it isn’t the prince’s kiss that lifts the spell. Disney could certainly benefit from giving Mulan a more epic finale, and perhaps one that does her legendary character justice.

Immersing us in historically-accurate China

Besides perhaps The Jungle Book, we’ve yet to see a live-action adaptation that takes place in a non-European culture. In fact, this would be the first film to employ solely actors of color. What Disney decides to do here will be particularly interesting; since Aladdin will be getting its own adaptation soon, and Pocahontas could also follow in the live-action trend, the decisions taken here will likely set a precedent for what will be done with those films.

There were rumors earlier of Mulan having a white love interest, which now seem to be crushed, thankfully. We want to see a film with an entirely Asian cast — hopefully at least mostly Chinese — and get a chance to explore the scenery, sets and props of ancient China.

Although, it’s only fair to say that Hua Mulan also has its own white character — a Russian singer called Vitas, who inexplicably pops up now and again. That’s another tip for Disney: don’t just insert white guys into the story for no reason.

Hua Mulan’s shots of rural China are beautiful and unique, and it would be amazing to see what Disney can do if they choose to show much of what they did in animation, with real sets and locations. Hopefully, Disney gets a chance to actually film in China itself.

All this doesn’t go to say that we want a copy of Hua Mulan. Not at all. Hua Mulan is an excellent film in its own right, but it’s considerably more adult than Disney would ever dare make an adaptation. The realism of its wars and of the toll duty takes on Mulan and her companions is nothing like the fun, if occasionally emotional, adventure Disney took us on with Mulan.

Disney’s version is a movie to be excited about, and the additions the animated film made to the legend are what makes it a classic. It would be amazing to see Mushu, Shang, the ancestors, and maybe even the cricket, on screen, as well as the songs, of course! “Make a Man Out of You” with real actors will definitely be one of the biggest highlights.

So far, we know that Mulan’s director will be Niki Caro. Although she isn’t Chinese, a matter that raises a lot of questions about representation, it’s still encouraging to see a female director chosen — and if Caro’s powerful film Whale Rider is any indication, she’s rather good at telling empowering stories with female leads. Hopefully, the rest of the team can be filled with talented Chinese filmmakers that deserve to have a hand in rendering such a culturally significant story properly.

After all, Mulan is primarily a Chinese legend, and her story spans a history much longer than the 18 years since Disney’s animation came out.

In the meantime, go check out Hua Mulan, which is a fascinating film (although a considerably more adult one; you’ve been warned)!

What are you expecting from ‘Mulan’?

There’s a new drama coming to HBO this Sunday and you can’t miss it. Big Little Lies is a delicious trip through the small, rich, and scandalous town of Monterey, California.

Featuring an all-star cast — Alexander Skarsgård, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, Nicole Kidman, Zoë Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon, and Shailene Woodley — HBO’s book to TV adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s wildly popular novel should please both book readers and newbies (I’m the latter) thanks to the soapy drama and lack of censorship.

‘Big Little Lies’ review: Come for the cast, stay for the story

Big Little Lies takes elements of True Detective, Real Housewives, and Gone Girl, and mixes them into one lovely, hate-filled cocktail. Set in the beautiful coastal town of Monterey, the secrets and connections between characters run deep.

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There’s a new drama coming to HBO this Sunday and you can’t miss it. Big Little Lies is a delicious trip through the small, rich, and scandalous town of Monterey, California.

Featuring an all-star cast — Alexander Skarsgård, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, Nicole Kidman, Zoë Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon, and Shailene Woodley — HBO’s book to TV adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s wildly popular novel should please both book readers and newbies (I’m the latter) thanks to the soapy drama and lack of censorship.

‘Big Little Lies’ review: Come for the cast, stay for the story

Big Little Lies takes elements of True Detective, Real Housewives, and Gone Girl, and mixes them into one lovely, hate-filled cocktail. Set in the beautiful coastal town of Monterey, the secrets and connections between characters run deep.

Reese Witherspoon’s Madeline is the ringmaster. She’s the typical Helicopter Parent trying as best she can to keep Monterey’s relationships and extracurricular activities together. Bringing her down is her ego and never-ending animosity toward a couple of characters, including her ex-husband’s new bae Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz, below). Together, Bonnie and Madeline’s new hubby Ed (Adam Scott) want to keep the peace between their two partners, but they’re the only two who seem capable of keeping tempers in check.

Meanwhile, Perry (Skarsgård) and Celeste (Kidman) have serious marriage issues that seem impossible to resolve. Of the leading ladies, Celeste seems to be the most level-headed despite her shitty husband. Then there’s Laura Dern’s Renata (below), who hates Madeline with all of her heart. Some of the best scenes are between these two ladies.

Not helping the Renata/Madeline relationship is the latter’s new friend Jane (Woodley). She’s just moved to town with her son Ziggy, who might’ve caused serious trouble on his first day of school.

It’s this event that initiates the show’s biggest mystery: A murder. Who did it? Who’s dead? The answer is not revealed in the first four episodes despite flash forward sequences in which we see an investigation taking place. As you continue to watch, it becomes increasingly clear that any of the characters could be be the victim or murderer. (This writer hasn’t read the book, so please don’t spoil me.)

Big Little Lies is the perfect show to cuddle up with on Sunday evenings for the next two months. While some have called this show corny, I find it to be a delight. I just have one suggestion for every viewer: Bring a glass of alcohol to the party. While screening the episodes, I very much enjoyed watching the drama unfold with a drink in hand.

The only problem? It’s just seven episodes long. Here’s hoping for more seasons or more adaptations of Moriarty’s books at HBO.

Big Little Lies premieres Sunday, February 19 on HBO.