Karen Sheila Gillan
(born 28 November 1987) is a Scottish actress and former model. She
is known for the role of Amy Pond, companion to the Eleventh Doctor,
in the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who (201013). In film, she
has starred as Jane Lockhart in Not Another Happy Ending (2013),
Kaylie Russell in the horror film Oculus (2013), and Nebula in the
Marvel film Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).
Gillan was born and raised in Inverness, the only child of Marie
(née Paterson) and John Gillan, a singer and recording artist.
When she turned 16, Gillan moved to Edinburgh and completed an HNC
Acting and Performance course at Telford College. She moved to
London at age 18 to study at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre
Arts drama school, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in acting.
While studying at Italia Conti, Gillan was scouted by a modelling
agency and modelled in the launch party of Nicola Roberts' Dainty
Doll Make-Up Range. This was shown in Roberts' episode of the
documentary The Passions of Girls Aloud, which premiered on 4 April
2008. 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.
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. 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. She appeared in the Channel 4 film Stacked, playing
the role of Ginny. 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.
She was cast for the role of the Eleventh Doctor's first companion,
Amy Pond, on the British sci-fi series Doctor Who in May 2009. 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. She appeared in the following sixth series in 2011 and
the first five episodes of the seventh series in 2012. She reprised
the role in a cameo appearance in the 2013 Christmas special "The
Time of the Doctor". Gillan had appeared in Doctor Who once before
in the series four episode "The Fires of Pompeii" in the role of a
Gillan made her first theatre appearance playing the role of Shirley
in John Osborne's play Inadmissible Evidence along with Douglas
Hodge. The play debuted at the Donmar Warehouse on 16 October 2011.
During an interview at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con, Gillan revealed
that she would be returning to Doctor Who for its seventh series. On
15 December 2011, it was announced Gillan and Arthur Darvill (Rory
Williams) would be leaving Doctor Who during the seventh series in
2012. On 26 January 2012, Karen Gillan played the part of supermodel
Jean Shrimpton in the television film We'll Take Manhattan, which
told the story of Shrimpton's relationship with the photographer
In August 2011, it was announced that Gillan would star in an indie
Scottish rom-com called Not Another Happy Ending alongside Emun
Elliott. 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.
Filming took place in July 2012, though Elliott was replaced by
Stanley Weber. Gillan told journalists that she was happy to be
involved in a Scottish production that "isn't about drug use or
fighting the English". The film premiered at the Edinburgh
International Film Festival in June 2013.
Gillan starred in the lead role in the supernatural horror movie
Oculus, which was filmed in Alabama and released in April 2014. She
also revealed that she has been cast in comedian Charlie Brooker's
TV series A Touch of Cloth. Gillan has also been cast in a film
titled The List which began filming in Los Angeles in May 2013.
FHM magazine ranked Gillan number 42 on their list of the 100
Sexiest Women 2011, and in 2012, they also ranked her number 36.
Gillan has also voiced advertisements for eHarmony and The Royal
Bank of Scotland. 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. Gillan had her head shaved bald for the
Gillan joined the regular cast of Adult Swim's NTSF:SD:SUV:: for the
show's third season in 2013. 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
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 greenlighted for the 201415 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 is Gillan's first time starring in the lead
role of an American television series. The series was cancelled by
ABC on 7 November 2014 after seven episodes; the remaining six
episodes were made available on Hulu starting 25 November 2014.
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 will portray Ellen, the older sister to Farmiga's
character. Gillan also appeared in TV on the Radio's "Happy Idiot"
music video, released on 3 October 2014. BuddyTV ranked her number
six on its list of "TV's 100 Sexiest Women of 2014". In May 2015, it
was announced that Gillan was cast in the Adam McKay-directed drama
film The Big Short alongside Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Ryan
Gosling, Steve Carell and Melissa Leo.
Gillan wrote and directed her first short film, Coward, which went
on to win Best Independent Short at the Independent Film-makers
Showcase at the Beverly Hills Film Festival 2015. The film also
screened at the 2015 Edinburgh Film Festival.
In October 2015, Gillan completed filming The Circle in which she
was cast in a main role alongside Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, and John
Boyega. The film was directed and written by James Ponsoldt, based
on the novel by Dave Eggers.
Marvel have announced
that a sequel of Guardians of the Galaxy will be set to come out in
March 2017, with most of the original cast members reprising their
respective roles, including Gillan's character Nebula. The director
of the films James Gunn said that he will be exploring more into
Gillan's character's past. Filming is expected to start around
February or March 2016.
Gillan made her debut in writing, directing, and producing with her
short film, Coward, in 2015. Later in the year she wrote, directed,
and starred in another short film called Conventional.
In 2011, Gillan helped promote Fashion Targets Breast Cancer (FTBC)
and the opening of Squirrel Ward in Great Ormond Street Hospital.
During a 2012 interview on The Late Late Show, she stated that she
had relocated to the US to star in the film Oculus and confirmed
that she now lives in Los Angeles, California.
She has stated that, though her family is Catholic, she was never
baptized and is not religious, instead agreeing with the statement
that, "we're just minuscule dots in the vast cosmic emptiness of the