David Tennant: INTJ

Note: I honestly was not expecting this result when I set out to type him…believe what you will…and then again, I could be totally wrong. After all, I don’t know him personally.

Ni: David Tennant chose to be an actor and set a goal to play the Doctor as a toddler. Since age three, he has never wavered from that path. He is very determined and doesn’t really doubt himself or his intuitions. He’s very talented when it comes to playing N-type characters. David Tennant describes himself as having a “nervous energy,” enough that worrying keeps him up at night. He enjoys challenging himself and prefers to wait a few years before making judgements. He carries with him various obsessions (like hacking) and isn’t particularly fond of tradition

Te: Tennant is extremely organized, focused and decently intelligent. He’s a hard worker who sets long-term goals and pursues them without question or doubt. Most of the time, he is extremely hard on himself as he continues to challenge himself with new acting roles. He really feels the pressure of deadlines, but can meet them (for a good glimpse of how much he stresses over this, watch bits of his video diaries)…He has described himself as emotionally retarded.

Fi: Extremely loyal to his fans, David Tennant is a friendly prankster. He’s humble and friendly with everyone, though he tends to keep his personal life to himself, manifest in his consistent refusal to give definite answers to interview questions earlier in his career. At the time, he bypassed most questions with the phrase, “I couldn’t possibly comment.” In group interviews, he still tends to let others do most of the talking if he can get away with it. Tennant is politically opinionated and doesn’t feel the need to follow all the social trends flying around (the ice bucket challenge, for instance).

Se: David Tennant is often overwhelmed by the attention he gets. He’s particularly sensitive to his environment (sounds keep him up at night), but doesn’t have trouble adjusting to new and changing situations. At the same time, he doesn’t enjoy working with fast paced schedules. He was particularly overstimulated by his role as the Doctor (an extremely extraverted role). When traveling, he spends most of the time alone in his apartment rather than chancing the crowds to sightsee…

How his MBTI type influences his Acting Style:

Characters: Tenth Doctor ENFP, Alec Hardy INTJ, Jean-Francios Mercier ISTP, Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing) ENTP, Cambell Bain ENFJ, Richard II INTJ, Hamlet INTJ etc.

I really, really, really was reluctant to believe this typing at first –because David Tennant doesn’t particularly resemble your stereotypical INTJ. I will have you know, I actually spent over an hour and a half trying to convince myself that he was an FeTi user (INFJ), but it didn’t work. I also considered ENFJ field, but Ni is definitely his dominant function. It just stands out beyond everything else…

What eventually convinced me through and through was watching his reaction to leaving Doctor Who as well as his comments about schedules, nerves and overstimulation (on his video diaries); then seeing his final reaction to the superstition piece on Trick or Treat.

I suppose what we’ve got to remember is that typing fictional characters is completely different from typing real people. Fictional characters tend to embody their type’s stereotypes whereas real people are more three-dimensional. Because real life is so very different from life in the movies, you will see film-INTJs laugh and smile far less than the real-life INTJs do. Especially when it comes to actors, it’s hard to tell at first glance because they have to be friendly and outgoing with everyone or else they lose their fans.

I suppose there’s an F stereotype for actors in general…

Once again, more of his major roles seem to be intuitives. I never really could understand the idea of INTJs going into the field of acting, but I suppose if you’re good at acting like you’re not an INTJ, it could work. David Tennant certainly does it well.

I commented earlier that INFPs use their eyes as vessels for emotional expression –in much the same way, the eyebrows tend to be INTJs mode of expression. INTJs are particularly good at lowering their eyebrows to absurd degrees, thus conveying exaggerated intensity of an emotion that isn’t always there.

INTJs do use their mouths as a mode of expression as well –which further exaggerates the work that’s being done by their eyebrows. So, if you want to know whether David Tennant is smiling for real (feeling just the smile and nothing else), or just smiling because it’s expected of him (something else is on his mind), observe the following images.

This smile could probably fool most people, but as a fellow INTJ, I know that he’s thinking about something else (other than what he’s smiling at). How would I know? The eyebrows aren’t saying anything. He’s subconsciously using his mouth to cover for him so that no one will think he’s rude and gloomy.

This next one is a partially-there smile –the classic INTJ smile in which one uses only the corners of the mouth to smile, while saying the rest by raising the eyebrows half-way. Notice also that he’s only raising one eyebrow.

It seems that a lot of INTJs will use one eyebrow to convey emotion when they need to –particularly while they’re talking, because otherwise people just think they’re getting a death stare. I don’t remember where I came across the following image (somewhere in my research), but there was a fan somewhere organizing a drinking game for Doctor Who, in which one of the categories is “left-eyebrow acting.”

In general, INTJs tend to use subtle eyebrow movements –often only in one eyebrow– to express their emotions. I’ve also noticed a consistency with the one eyebrow being the left one. Apparently fans have made tributes to his left eyebrow? Like so.

Lastly, we have the smile that only comes when the INTJ is fully in the moment and thinking purely about what they are feeling (I suppose one would have to do this if one were acting) –but here, you get the eyebrows up AND the smile.

Anyroad, that’s that.

16 thoughts on “David Tennant: INTJ

  1. This was interesting! I was actually quite surprised about David Tennant’s typing, but now that I think about it, it makes a lot of sense.

    I am an INTJ myself, and I hadn’t realized just how I expressed my emotions until you pointed out the eyebrow/mouth combo. I have to say, it’s actually quite true. There are many times where I don’t even respond verbally to other people. I just use my eyebrows and mouth in exaggerated manners to convey a response.

    Funny thing though; I use the right eyebrow instead of the left.


  2. (Is it a prerequisite to be considered for playing the Doctor that you have to master the eyebrow?)
    Wow. This is impressive. (I did notice while watching a special features thing that he seemed to be okay with putting out this little spiel but the moment the host focused directly on him he had that nervous not-really-a-smile, like a deer caught in headlights, look. He even told her right off something to the effect of “I’m already uncomfortable with this situation, please don’t make me explain myself.” That was probably the least theatrical thing about that special, by the way.)


  3. Forgive me for being overly critical, but you wrote for his roles that he portrayed Richard III when he has not played that part. However, he did play Richard II. I know you are busy, but I thought you might want to know.


  4. I was thinking INFJ at first too. I think he could have been part of a family who has strong Fi because his Fi is very developed. I have noticed a possible ISTP character trend: Jean Francois Mercier and he played George from Of Mice and Men in a radio adaptation of the novel.


  5. As an INTJ, I wish I had the physical capability to raise only one eyebrow… But I do use my eyebrows a lot. I am also an actress, and I must say, N types are much easier to play. Fe types are really hard. E and P and ok too. I’ve played Rosalind in As You Like It, and being in love and being obvious was definitely the hardest thing. There is a lot of Te involved in my acting.


  6. I’ll have to watch some videos of myself to see if I do the eyebrow thing, but I know I am the same way on smiling. I have a really hard time smiling, and most of the time I do a (somewhat) genuine smile, but am not focused, it’s mostly at the corners of my mouth. That sentence didn’t really say what I was trying to say, so take it with a large grain of salt.

    The left eyebrow is a lot easier to raise independently (for me), so it would make sense that that is the one used most often. Then again, it might just be easier for me because I do it so much….


    • I also meant to say that in his first smiling picture, another way you can tell that it is a fake smile is that it is too flat and wide. It’s almost rectangular, and with the amount of stretching his cheek is doing, his jaw should be lower. Also, notice how his lower lip turns in at the top. That doesn’t happen in a natural smile.


      • Also, in regards to the smile bit -I’d say along with the forehead, the muscles around the jaw would be relaxed, too, exposing open teeth. The picture you’re criticizing has teeth grating so hard together, my ears hurt.
        A real smile, ultimately, is done not only in a happy state of mind, but a relaxed one as well, utilizing almost all the muscles in the face.


  7. I can very much relate to the left eyebrow thing – once my ENFP friend asked me to be the subject of his interview, because he was member of the school TV group, and his task was to make interviews with several people haphazardly picked out of the pupils. When I watched the piece that was made of me, the first thing I noticed was how many times I used my left eyebrow unconsciously. Within three minutes only, I conveyed something with it at least seven times.



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