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Karen Gillan
Colour photograph of Karen Gillan
Gillan in 2017
Born (1987-11-28) 28 November 1987 (age 30)
Inverness, Scotland
Residence New York City, U.S.
Nationality Scottish
Alma mater Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts
Occupation
  • Actress
  • director
  • screenwriter
  • model
Years active 2006–present
Relatives Caitlin Blackwood (cousin)

Karen Gillan (born 28 November 1987)[1] is a Scottish actress, director, screenwriter and model. She played the role of Amy Pond, companion to the Eleventh Doctor, in the BBC One science fiction series Doctor Who (2010–2013). She has received wide recognition for portraying Nebula in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and its untitled sequel (2019) and also played Ruby Roundhouse in the box-office hit Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017).

In 2018, she released her first featured film as a writer and director, titled The Party's Just Beginning.[2]

Contents

  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Career
    • 2.1 Television
    • 2.2 Film
    • 2.3 Theatre
    • 2.4 Selected other work
  • 3 Personal life
  • 4 Filmography
    • 4.1 Feature films
    • 4.2 Short films
    • 4.3 Television
    • 4.4 Video games
  • 5 Stage
  • 6 Awards and nominations
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links

Early life[edit]

Gillan was born and raised in Inverness. When she turned 16, Gillan moved to Edinburgh and completed an HNC Acting and Performance course at Telford College.[3] She moved to London at age 18 to study at the drama school, Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts.[4][5]

While studying at Italia Conti, Gillan was scouted by a modelling agency.[6] Gillan has said she would not give up her acting career to return to modelling, stating that she enjoyed modelling but acting was always her main interest and goal.[7]

Career[edit]

Television[edit]

Gillan with Matt Smith, filming her first Doctor Who episode as Amy Pond.

Gillan's early television acting career included guest appearances on several drama series, with her first role being in an episode of Rebus, a role she obtained while still at Italia Conti.[8] Gillan then undertook a two-year stint as a member of the ensemble cast of the sketch comedy series The Kevin Bishop Show, in which she played multiple characters including celebrities such as Katy Perry and Angelina Jolie. Gillan also appeared on TV in a leading role in a horror project entitled The Well, which was broadcast as a series of episodic short films on BBC Two and later as a web series on BBC.co.uk. Part of the BBC's multimedia "switch" programming, the short episodes interconnect with online games that further explore the environments presented in the series.[9]

Gillan portrayed Amy Pond, companion to the Eleventh Doctor, on the British sci-fi series Doctor Who. Before cast in the lead role in May 2009, she previously appeared on Doctor Who in series four episode "The Fires of Pompeii" in the role of a Soothsayer.[6] She made her first on-screen appearance as Amy Pond in "The Eleventh Hour" with her cousin Caitlin Blackwood portraying a young Amelia (Amy) Pond.[10][11][12] In 2010, she won in the Entertainment category at Young Scot Awards. She appeared in the following sixth series in 2011 and the first five episodes of the seventh series in 2012,[13] after which her character and Rory Williams (portrayed by Arthur Darvill) have left the series.[14] Gillan reprised her role in a cameo appearance in the 2013 Christmas special "The Time of the Doctor".

She was cast in comedian Charlie Brooker's TV series A Touch of Cloth,[15] portraying Kerry Newblood. Gillan joined the regular cast of Adult Swim's NTSF:SD:SUV:: for the show's third season in 2013.[16][17]

In February 2014, Gillan was cast as the lead in Selfie, an American single-camera sitcom for ABC, which is produced by Warner Bros. Television and was greenlit for the 2014–15 US television season. Gillan played a social media-obsessed socialite named Eliza Dooley, a modern-day take on the main character from My Fair Lady, Eliza Doolittle. This was Gillan's first time starring in the lead role of an American television series.[18][19][20] The series was cancelled by ABC on 7 November 2014 after seven episodes;[21] the remaining six episodes were made available on Hulu starting 25 November 2014.[22]

Film[edit]

Gillan at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con

She appeared in the Channel 4 film Stacked.

In August 2011, it was announced that Gillan would star in an indie Scottish romantic comedy called Not Another Happy Ending alongside Emun Elliott.[23] She was selected by director John McKay because he came to know her during the production of We'll Take Manhattan, which he also directed, as "a very bubbly, vibrant, energetic, funny, slightly clumsy person" who was a perfect fit for the character.[24] Filming took place in July 2012,[23] though Elliott was replaced by Stanley Weber.[25] Gillan told journalists that she was happy to be involved in a Scottish production that "isn't about drug use or fighting the English".[26] The film premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June 2013.[27][28][29] In 2012, Gillan appeared in the television film We'll Take Manhattan playing the part of supermodel Jean Shrimpton, which told the story of Shrimpton's relationship with the photographer David Bailey.[30]

Gillan starred in the lead role in the supernatural horror movie Oculus, which was filmed in Alabama and released in April 2014.[31]

In May 2013, Gillan was cast as Nebula in the Marvel superhero science fiction film Guardians of the Galaxy, which was released in August 2014.[32] Gillan had her head shaved bald for the role.

In May 2014, Gillan was cast in the Ti West-directed Western film In a Valley of Violence opposite John Travolta, Ethan Hawke and Taissa Farmiga. Gillan portrayed Ellen, the older sister to Farmiga's character.[33]

In 2015, Gillan appeared in the Adam McKay-directed drama film The Big Short alongside Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carell and Melissa Leo.[34]

In 2017, Gillan reprised her role as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, this time becoming a member of the film's eponymous team,[35] and co-starred in The Circle, alongside Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, and John Boyega. The latter film, released in April, was directed and written by James Ponsoldt, and was based on the novel by Dave Eggers.[36] Also that year, Gillan played the lead female role in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, a sequel to 1995 film Jumanji, starring alongside Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Nick Jonas.[37]

Gillan reprised her Nebula character in Avengers: Infinity War and its untitled, upcoming, sequel, which were filmed back-to-back. Principal photography began in January 2017, at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayette County, Georgia.

Theatre[edit]

In 2011, Gillan made her first theatre appearance playing the role of Shirley in John Osborne's play Inadmissible Evidence along with Douglas Hodge.[38] The play debuted at the Donmar Warehouse on 16 October 2011.[38]

In November 2013, Gillan appeared on Broadway in a play called Time to Act, one of the plays included in "The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway" to benefit the non-profit Urban Arts Partnership.[39]

Selected other work[edit]

Gillan has also voiced advertisements for eHarmony and The Royal Bank of Scotland. Gillan also appeared in TV on the Radio's "Happy Idiot" music video, released on 3 October 2014.[40]

Gillan wrote and directed her first short film, Coward, which screened at the 2015 Edinburgh Film Festival, and nominated for several awards.[41][42] Later in the year she wrote, directed, and starred in another short film called Conventional.[43]

On 2 November 2016, it was announced that Gillan will write, direct and star in her feature directorial debut with Burbank-based development and production company Mt. Hollywood Films' indie drama project titled Tupperware Party. Set in her home city of Inverness in the Scottish Highlands, filming began in January 2017[44] and wrapped in the next month.[45] The title of the film was later changed to The Party's Just Beginning.

Personal life[edit]

In 2011, Gillan helped promote Fashion Targets Breast Cancer (FTBC)[46] and the opening of Squirrel Ward in Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.[47] During a 2012 interview on The Late Late Show, she stated that she had relocated to the US to star in the film Oculus.[8]

She has stated that, although her family is Catholic, she has not been christened and is not religious, instead agreeing with the statement that, "we're just minuscule dots in the vast cosmic emptiness of the universe".[48]

Filmography[edit]

Feature films[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2010 Outcast Ally
2013 Not Another Happy Ending Jane Lockhart
Oculus Kaylie Russell
2014 Guardians of the Galaxy Nebula First live action appearance of the character
2015
The Big Short Evie
2016 In a Valley of Violence Ellen
2017 Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Nebula
The Circle Annie Allerton
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Ruby Roundhouse
2018 The Party's Just Beginning Liusaidh Also director and screenwriter
Avengers: Infinity War Nebula
Alex & the List Lily Filmed in 2013[49]
All Creatures Here Below Post-production
2019 Untitled Avengers film Nebula Post-production
Call of the Wild Mercedes Filming

Short films[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2014 Bound for Greatness Maeve MacDonough
2015 Warning Labels Mindy
Coward N/A Director, screenwriter and executive producer
Conventional Rachel Milligan Also director and screenwriter

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2006 Rebus Teri Cotter Episode: "A Question of Blood"
2008 Stacked Ginny Turner Television film
Doctor Who Soothsayer Episode: "The Fires of Pompeii"
Harley Street Holly Episode 1
2008–2009 The Kevin Bishop Show Various characters Main role
2008 Coming Up Anna Episode: "Thinspiration"
2009 The Well Coll 4 episodes
2010–2013 Doctor Who Amy Pond Series 5–7, 2013 specials
2010–2011 Doctor Who Confidential Herself Recurring role
2012 We'll Take Manhattan Jean Shrimpton Television film
In Love With... Laura Episode: "In Love with Coward"
Performed the character from Noël Coward's play, Still Life[50]
2013 NTSF:SD:SUV:: Daisy Main role
2014 A Touch of Cloth Kerry Newblood 2 episodes
Selfie Eliza Dooley Main role
2015 The Devil You Know Jane Porter HBO pilot episode[51]
Not picked up[52]
Comedy Bang! Bang! Herself Episode: "Karen Gillan Wears A Black and White Striped Pullover and Coral Skirt"
7 Days in Hell Lily Allsworth Television film
Robot Chicken Anastasia Steele Voice
Episode: "Zero Vegetables"
2016 Emo Dad Jessica (voice) 5 episodes

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice role
2010 Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: City of the Daleks Amy Pond
Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Blood of the Cybermen
Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: TARDIS
Doctor Who: Evacuation Earth
Doctor Who: Return to Earth
Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Shadows of the Vashta Nerada
2011 Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: The Gunpowder Plot

Stage[edit]

Year Title Role Venue
2011 Inadmissible Evidence Shirley Donmar Warehouse
2013 Time to Act Karen Broadway

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Work Result Ref.
2010 TV Quick Awards Best Actress Doctor Who Nominated [53]
Cosmopolitan "Woman of the Year" Awards Best Actress Won [54]
5th Young Scot Awards Entertainment Won
2011 SFX Awards Best Actress Won [55]
TV Choice Awards Best Actress Won [56]
Scream Awards Best Sci-Fi Actress Nominated [57]
2012 National Television Awards Best Drama Performance: Female Won [58]
SFX Awards Best Actress Nominated [59]
Nickelodeon UK Kids' Choice Awards Favourite UK Actress N/A Nominated [60]
Scottish Fashion Awards Scotland's Fashion Icon N/A Won [61]
2013 National Television Awards Best Drama Performance – Female Doctor Who Nominated [62]
2014 Fright Meter Awards Best Actress Oculus Nominated [63]
Detroit Film Critics Society Best Ensemble Guardians of the Galaxy Won [64]
Nevada Film Critics Society Best Ensemble Cast Won [65]
Phoenix Film Critics Society Best Cast Nominated [66]
2015 Central Ohio Film Critics Association Best Ensemble Nominated [67]
Empire Awards Best Female Newcomer Guardians of the Galaxy and Oculus Won [68][69]
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Actress (long-list) Oculus Nominated [70]
Hang Onto Your Shorts Film Festival Best Actress in a Short Film (Long) Bound for Greatness Nominated [71]
IFS Film Festival Best Actress in a Short Film Won [72]
Best Independent Short Coward Won [72]
Edinburgh International Film Festival Best Short Film Nominated [73]
Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards Best Short Film Conventional Nominated [74]
2016 London IFF Film Festival Best Lead Actress in a Short Film Bound for Greatness Won [75]
FirstGlance Film Festival Best Actress in a Short Film Won [76]
2017 Maui Film Festival Rising Star N/A Won [77]
2018 Glasgow Film Festival Audience Award The Party's Just Beginning Nominated [78]
MTV Movie & TV Awards Best On-Screen Team (with Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Nick Jonas) Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle Nominated [79]
Teen Choice Awards Choice Comedy Movie Actress Nominated [80]
British Academy Scotland Awards Best Feature Film The Party's Just Beginning Pending [81]