Karen Sheila Gillan (born November 28, 1987) is a Scottish actress and filmmaker from Inverness (thus, she is actually a Highlander). She gained nationwide recognition in the UK for playing Amy Pond, the first companion of Matt Smith's Eleventh Doctor in Doctor Who, and achieved international stardom for playing Nebula in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
On Doctor Who, Gillan played Amy until season 7 of the revival. At the time of her departure, she was the single longest-lasting Companion on the 2005 revival of the show at 2½ seasons. As Amy, Gillan 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.) In addition to this role, she previously appeared as a soothsayer in an earlier story, "The Fires of Pompeii". She and Matt Smith are known to have gotten along like a house on fire, and Matt once described her on The Graham Norton Show as "mad as a box of cats". Given the insanity, it's probably why they got along so well.
Post-Doctor Who, she's still quite active in the acting circuit, being part of the cast of NTSF:SD:SUV:: as well as scoring several prominent movie roles, including Nebula in the MCU, Kaylie in Oculus, and Ruby Roundhouse in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. She also starred in Selfie for ABC, a sitcom based on My Fair Lady.
In 2018, she released her first feature film as a writer and director, titled The Party's Just Beginning.
She married Saturday Night Live writer Nick Kocher in May 2022.
- New Town Killers as Young Girl in Bus Station (2008)
- Doctor Who as soothsayer (2008; episode "The Fires of Pompeii") and as Amy Pond (2010 — 2013)
- Not Another Happy Ending (2013) as Jane Lockhart
- Oculus (2013) as Kaylie Russell
- Marvel Cinematic Universe as Nebula:
- In a Valley of Violence (2016) as Ellen
- The Circle (2017) as Annie Allerton
- Jumanji as Martha / Ruby Roundhouse
- The Party's Just Beginning (2018) as Liusaidh. (She also wrote and directed the movie)
- Spies in Disguise (2019) as Eyes (voice)
- Stuber (2019) as Sarah Morris
- The Call of the Wild (2020) as Mercedes
- Gunpowder Milkshake (2021) as Sam
- The Bubble (2022) as Carol Cobb/Dr. Lacey Nightingale
- Dual (2022) as Sarah and Sarah's Double
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.
- And yet again in the upcoming film DUAL where she ends up in a duel to the death with her own clone.
- 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.
- Leg Focus: 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!
- Ms. Fanservice: Doctor Who often showed off her legs, and Jumanji gave her a midriff-baring outfit. She even had nude scenes in Not Another Happy Ending and The Party’s Just Beginning.
- 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!
- 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".)
- Unfortunate Names: She's fully aware of what the name "Karen" has come to symbolize in recent years, and has made the appropriate joke about it.
- 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.