A native of Northampton, England, Smith grew up with the intent of having a career in football, but an injury led him to the less hazardous pursuit of theater. After appearing in various London stage productions and studying drama in college, he made his TV debut in two adventure-oriented adaptations of novels by Philip Pullman, "The Ruby in the Smoke" (BBC, 2006) and "The Shadow in the North" (BBC, 2007), both starring "Doctor Who" regular Billie Piper, in a bit of coincidental foreshadowing. Smith won more notice with his role as researcher Danny Foster on the government-steeped show "Party Animals," and worked again with Piper on an episode of her sultry series "Secret Diary of a Call Girl" (ITV, 2007-2011). Although Smith's scenes as the younger version of Ralph Fiennes' gangster character in the lauded and darkly humorous indie thriller "In Bruges" (2008) were cut, greater things awaited him. Cast as the successor to David Tennant's immensely popular Tenth Doctor, Smith first appeared as the youthful bow-tied Doctor Who in early 2010, and went on to win over skeptical fans with his enthusiastic performance as the venerable time-traveling character. Sidestepping to film to portray another reborn man in the art-house sci-fi movie "Womb" (2010), co-starring Eva Green, Smith primarily stuck to his role as the good Doctor, though he did embody esteemed gay author Christopher Isherwood in the 2011 TV movie "Christopher and His Kind" (BBC). Garnering a BAFTA nomination that same year for "Doctor Who," Smith continued his stint on the show, while also co-starring with Sam Hoare in the television biopic "Bert & Dickie," about rowers competing at the 1948 Olympics. In 2013, after more than 40 episodes as the Doctor and exploits with various companions including the enigmatic Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman), Smith revealed that he was hanging up his hat as the TARDIS-dwelling humanoid, with that year's Christmas special marking his last regular appearance on the series. While speculation abounded as to who might replace him, superstar American actor/aspiring director Ryan Gosling cast Smith, along with Christina Hendricks and Saoirse Ronan, in his fantasy-tinged feature debut, "How to Catch a Monster," which was slated for a 2014 release. Of course, given the far-out, time-jumping premise of "Doctor Who," the door remained open for Smith's future return as the ever-odd Eleventh Doctor.