Matt Smith talks leaving 'Doctor Who', filming the Christmas special

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The role of the Doctor on "Doctor Who" is one that changed Matt Smith's life. After spending three seasons in the role, Smith has practically become synonymous with the Doctor. His run has coincided with the show's popularity skyrocketing around the globe, the pinnacle being a worldwide simulcast of the 50th anniversary special in 94 countries.

Still, the man who plays the 11th Doctor is ready to leave it behind to take the next step in his life. Before he leaves the life of a Time Lord behind for good though, Smith spoke to the Radio Times about the impact the role has had on him.

"Everything changed," he says of playing the Doctor. "It's all-consuming -- and that affects the rhythm of your life. Now, however, it's settling down a little." Since announcing he would be leaving the show, Smith has filmed a role in Ryan Gosling's directorial debut, "How to Catch a Monster," and is preparing to star in a stage production of "American Psycho."

While being the Doctor may be even more than a full-time job, Smith has no regrets about his time in the TARDIS. "I think if I was going to choose to spend a couple of years in anyone's body, why not live it as the Doctor?" he wonders. "He's going to have more fun than almost anyone else alive."

It's true, there are very few people, real or fictional, who get to have a fraction of the adventures the Doctor does. Now Peter Capaldi will be the one to make those travels, while Smith goes onto the next phase of his career.

As for what to expect from his final bow, Smith can't give away much, but says, "It was a great shoot -- a sad one for me, but I think it'll be a fitting send-off and a fitting introduction for Peter."

The "Doctor Who" Christmas special airs at 9 p.m. ET Dec. 25 on BBC America.
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