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SYFY WIRE Steven Moffat

Doctor Who's Steven Moffat reveals how HBO's 'Time Traveler's Wife' got him time-hopping again

Steven Moffat explains how Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife inspired him to return to time-travel storytelling. 

By Tara Bennett
The Time Traveler's Wife PRESS

After 12 years executive producing the TARDIS-hopping of Christopher Eccleston, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi's incarnations of the Doctor on Doctor Who, executive producer/writer Steven Moffat exited to reinvent Sherlock Holmes with actor Benedict Cumberbatch in Sherlock and then Dracula with fellow writer Mark Gatiss. But then time travel creeped back into his life with the HBO series adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife book. 

At today's Television Critics Association virtual winter tour for HBO, Moffat and his creative team and cast for The Time Traveler's Wife chatted with reporters about the series coming this spring to HBO (and available to stream on HBO Max). Moffat admitted that Niffenegger's book was the one that ignited his own interest in time travel romances. 

Moffat said, "When I read this book, I was working on Doctor Who and it inspired me writing 'The Girl in the Fireplace.'" That episode went on to win Moffat a 2007 Hugo Award and he says that, on her own, Niffenegger watched the episode and then wrote it into her follow-up book. 

Addressing what particularly appealed to him about The Time Traveler's Wife book, Moffat called it a "brilliant love story" because it makes the most common phenomenon of a completely happy marriage interesting again. "Most love stories end with the altar or the divorce, and this is scrambling it up showing that love is inextricably linked to loss. It makes the common interesting, thrilling, with tension and tragedy as well as joy. And I do love a travel story, as my career would suggest. But this is not about time travel, it's merely a device. It’s about love."

Starring Theo James as the titular time traveler, Henry DeTamble, and Rose Leslie as his wife, Clare. Actors Desmin Borges plays Gomez and Natasha Lopez as Charisse. And the series is also executive produced by Emmy winner David Nutter (Game of Thrones, Arrow). 

Nutter was involved in the casting of the series and he said that once he read the first 23 pages of Moffat's pilot script, he immediately knew the perfect redhead to play Clare, actress Rose Leslie whom he directed for three seasons on Game of Thrones when she played Ygritte. As for Theo James, who is best known for playing Four in the Divergent movie series, Nutter first became aware of him when he was shooting a pilot on the same lot Nutter was shooting Arrow. He impressed him so much, he kept tabs on his career and then they brought him in to read for Henry. "Once he read for this, it was all over," Nutter enthused. "It was his."

The Time Traveler's Wife series premieres on HBO this spring.

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