Karen Sheila Gillan (born November 28, 1987) is a Scottish actress from Inverness (thus she actually is a Highlander), perhaps best known for playing Amy Pond, the first companion of Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who, having previously appeared as a soothsayer in an earlier story, "The Fires of Pompeii".
Not related to Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, but she is the older cousin of Caitlin Blackwood, who played the "young" Amy Pond.
In September 2012, she and Arthur Darvill's episodes of series 7 of Doctor Who aired, where they left in the fifth episode. Technically, their characters "left" the TARDIS in the late series 6 episode, "The God Complex", but they still managed to appear in the next 8 episodes in a row until they no longer could. At the time she departed Karen was the single longest lasting Companion on the 2005 revival of the show with 2½ seasons. As Amy Pond, Karen had appeared in more televised stories (not episodes, stories), 28, than any other companion in the show's entire history at the time. Both these records have since been eclipsed by Jenna Coleman.
Post-Doctor Who, she's still quite active in the acting circuit, being part of the cast of NTSF:SD:SUV:: (on [adult swim]) as well as scoring several prominent movie roles - Nebula, one of the characters in the film adaptations of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy, Kaylie in Oculus, and Ruby Roundhouse in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle alongside Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Nick Jonas. She also starred in Selfie for ABC, a sitcom based on My Fair Lady.
In 2018, she released her first feature film as writer and director, titled The Party's Just Beginning.
No relation to comic writer Kieron Gillen.
- Doctor Who (2010 — 2013) as Amy Pond
- Not Another Happy Ending (2013) as Jane Lockhart
- Oculus (2013) as Kaylie Russell
- Marvel Cinematic Universe as Nebula:
- The Circle (2017) as Annie Allerton
- Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017) as Martha / Ruby Roundhouse
- The Party's Just Beginning (2018) as Liusaidh. (She also wrote and directed the movie)
- Stuber (2019) as Sarah Morris
- Jumanji: The Next Level (2019) as Martha / Ruby Roundhouse
- The Call of the Wild (2020) as Mercedes
- Gunpowder Milkshake (2021)
Tropes associated with this actress include:
- Acting for Two:
- There have been quite a few Other-Amys during her time on Doctor Who. Caitlin Blackwood takes some of the burden, but there are still Time Shifts and Teselectas. Special attention goes to "The Girl Who Waited", which featured both her current self and a very good makeup job that made her some thirty years older. With a sword.
- A fair bit of Avengers: Endgame has her playing more than one Nebula thanks to Time Travel shenanigans.
- Bald Woman: For her role in Guardians of the Galaxy, she shaved her head (Marvel picked up the hair and made it into the wig Gillan worn on 'Selfie). Funnily enough, this meant she and Matt Smith were both wearing wigs during her cameo in his final episode. note Later movies just made her cut the hair shorter and hide it in a bun underneath the make-up.
- Butt-Monkey: All three members of the Who cast described their off-screen relationship as "Two big brothers teasing their younger sister." On Confidential, she showed where Matt scribbled all over her set chair, including "Wide Load" in the seat.
- Confusion Fu: She participated in an All-Star Celebrity Bowling game against Chris Hardwick's Nerdist team while promoting Doctor Who on BBC America. Since bowling isn't all that popular in the UK, and since Karen can out-Klutz Matt and Arthur at times, she shocked everybody when her "Throw, scream, and hope" approach to bowling actually worked and gave her one of the highest scores in the game.
- Copiously Credited Creator: Karen wrote, directed and starred in The Party's Just Beginning.
- Dyeing for Your Art: She shaved her head for her role in Guardians of the Galaxy (even making the cut hair into a wig and wearing it in a few roles while her new hair was still growing back in) and had to keep in serious shape for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
- Enforced Method Acting: At least two notable instances:
- In "The Time of Angels", she assumed that Matt wasn't going to actually bite her hand when he's trying to convince her it wasn't made of stone. He did.
- In "The Angels Take Manhattan", she originally said she didn't want to cry during her departure scene, saying that Amy was acting spontaneously and wasn't letting what she was doing sink in. However, when it came to do the scene, she simply couldn't stop crying.
- Fake American: She uses an American accent in Guardians of the Galaxy, Oculus, Selfie and Jumanji.
- Ms. Fanservice: Doctor Who often showed off her legs, and Jumanji gave her a Bare Your Midriff outfit. She even had a nude scene in Not Another Happy Ending.
- Non-Singing Voice: An odd case. She can sing but rarely does so. For example, when asked to sing a few bars of The Little Mermaid, she flat-out admitted she knows only one lyric and belted out "Forks!".
- Playing Against Type:
- Promoted Fangirl: Jumanji is one of Karen's top-three favorite films, so she was excited when she was invited to play Martha/Ruby Roundhouse in the standalone sequel.
- Real-Life Relative: Karen is a cousin to Caitlin Blackwood, the Scottish girl who played young Amelia Pond in the Doctor Who episodes "The Eleventh Hour", "The Big Bang", "Let's Kill Hitler" and "The God Complex". They had never met until they both showed up for the script table read, since Gillan's family had moved away before the younger girl was born!
- She's Got Legs: Famously, to the point that where the Doctor was riffing nicknames in the Oval Office, she was referred to as "The Legs" (along with "The Nose" and "Mrs Robinson"). Clara Oswald even lampshaded this when she sees a picture of Amy Pond. Also very much played up with her role as a video-game avatar played by a nerdy girl in Jumanji.Clara: Dear god, that woman is made of legs! That's the most legs on any living person!
- Statuesque Stunner: She's 5'11" barefoot, so when wearing almost any kind of shoes, she's at least 6'0" even. The Doctor Who prop department had to redesign the Daleks because of it (they were originally designed to match height with Billie Piper, who is 5'5".)
- You Look Familiar:
- Would you believe that Karen was in Doctor Who before being cast as Amy? She plays the priestess who follows the Tenth Doctor in "The Fires of Pompeii". It becomes even funnier when you remember that Peter Capaldi is also in that episode!
- She was one of the models featured in the inaugural campaign of Nicola Roberts' makeup range, Dainty Doll. She can be seen in the documentary following Nicola's rehearsal directions.