"I felt then that I didn't want to be associated with a 'brand name' that early in my career," Eccleston, 40, said of the long-running cult series, Britain's Guardian reported Thursday.
"But this time I felt experienced enough, and I felt that my career was strong enough to withstand an association like this, which can rule you out of other parts," he said.
Eccleston, the ninth actor to portray the title character, said he plans to base his "Dr. Who" on actor Patrick Troughton, who he remembers watching as a child.
"I found him compelling, and a little bit frightening," Eccleston said.
Eccleston's "Dr. Who" will return to the British airwaves next year.