Karen Gillan

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Not to be confused with Karen Gillon.
Karen Gillan
Karen Gillan - Guardians of the Galaxy premiere - July 2014 (cropped).jpg
Gillan at the Guardians of the Galaxy premiere, July 2014
Born (1987-11-28) 28 November 1987 (age 27)
Inverness, Scotland
Occupation Actress, model
Years active 2006–present
Relatives Caitlin Blackwood (cousin)

Karen Sheila Gillan (born 28 November 1987) is a Scottish actress and former model, best known for her role as Amy Pond in the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who (2010–13). 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).

Early life[edit]

Gillan was born and raised in Inverness, the only child of Marie (née Paterson) and John Gillan, a singer and recording artist.[1] She learned to play the piano when she was seven,[citation needed]and developed a love for acting at a young age, joining several local youth theatre groups and taking part in a wide range of productions at Charleston Academy.[citation needed]

When she turned 16, Gillan moved to Edinburgh and completed an HNC Acting and Performance course at Telford College.[2] 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.[3][4]


While studying at Italia Conti, Gillan was scouted by a modelling agency[5] 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,[citation needed]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.[6]


Gillan with Matt Smith, promoting series 5 of Doctor Who in March 2010

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.[citation needed] 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.[7]

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.[8][9][10] 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 Soothsayer.[5]

Gillan made her first theatre appearance playing the role of Shirley in John Osborne's play Inadmissible Evidence along with Douglas Hodge.[11] The play debuted at the Donmar Warehouse on 16 October 2011.[11]

During an interview at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con, Gillan revealed that she would be returning to Doctor Who for its seventh series.[12] On 15 December 2011, it was announced Gillan and Arthur Darvill (Rory Williams) would be leaving Doctor Who during the seventh series in 2012.[13] On 26 January 2012, Karen Gillan played the part of supermodel Jean Shrimpton in the BBC Four film We'll Take Manhattan, which told the story of Shrimpton's relationship with the photographer David Bailey.[14]

In August 2011, it was announced that Gillan would star in an indie Scottish rom-com called Not Another Happy Ending alongside Emun Elliott.[15] 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.[16] Filming took place in July 2012,[15] though Elliott was replaced by Stanley Weber.[17] Gillan told journalists that she was happy to be involved in a Scottish production that "isn't about drug use or fighting the English".[18] The film premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival in June 2013.[19][20][21]

Gillan starred in the lead role in the supernatural horror movie Oculus, which was filmed in Alabama and released in April 2014.[22] She also revealed that she has been cast in comedian Charlie Brooker's TV series A Touch of Cloth.[23] 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,[24] and in 2012, they also ranked her number 36.[25] 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 role.[26]

Gillan joined the regular cast of Adult Swim's NTSF:SD:SUV:: for the show's third season in 2013.[27][28] 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.[29]

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 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 is Gillan's first time starring in the lead role of an American television series.[27][30][31] The series was cancelled by ABC on 7 November 2014 after seven episodes;[32] the remaining six episodes were made available on Hulu starting 25 November 2014.[33]

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.[34]

In 2014, Gillan was cast in the TV movie Seven Days In Hell a comedy about a seven-day tennis match.

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".[35]

Personal life[edit]

In 2011, Gillan helped promote Fashion Targets Breast Cancer (FTBC)[36] and the opening of Squirrel Ward in Great Ormond Street Hospital.[37][38] During a 2012 interview on The Late Late Show, she confirmed that she now lives in Los Angeles, California.

She has stated that, though her family is Catholic, she was never baptized and does not practise any religion, instead agreeing with the statement that "we're just minuscule dots in the vast cosmic emptiness of the universe."[39]


Year Title Role Notes
2008 New Town Killers Young girl at bus station
2010 Outcast Ally
2013 Not Another Happy Ending Jane Lockhart
2013 Oculus Kaylie Russell
2014 Guardians of the Galaxy Nebula
2014 Bound for Greatness Maeve MacDonough Short film
2015 Warning Labels Mindy Short film
2015 List, TheThe List Lily In post-production
2015 In a Valley of Violence Ellen In post-production
Year Title Role Notes
2006 Rebus Teri Cotter Episode: "A Question of Blood"
2008 Stacked Ginny Turner Television film
2008 Doctor Who Soothsayer Episode: "The Fires of Pompeii"
2008 Harley Street Holly Episode 1
2008–09 Kevin Bishop Show, TheThe Kevin Bishop Show Various characters Main role (12 episodes)
2008 Coming Up Anna Episode: "Thinspiration"
2009 Well, TheThe Well Coll 4 episodes (2 uncredited)[citation needed]
2010–12/13 Doctor Who Amy Pond 34 episodes
2010–11 Doctor Who Confidential Herself 26 episodes
2012 We'll Take Manhattan Jean Shrimpton Television film
2012 In Love with Coward Laura 3 episodes
2013 NTSF:SD:SUV:: Daisy Main cast (9 episodes, season 3)
2014 Touch of Cloth, AA Touch of Cloth Kerry Newblood 2 episodes
2014 Selfie Eliza Dooley Main cast (13 episodes)
2015 7 Days in Hell Lily Television film
TBA The Devil You Know[40] Jane Porter[41] Upcoming TV series by HBO
Video games
Year Title Voice role
2010 Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: City of the Daleks Amy Pond
2010 Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Blood of the Cybermen Amy Pond
2010 Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: TARDIS Amy Pond
2010 Doctor Who: Evacuation Earth Amy Pond
2010 Doctor Who: Return to Earth Amy Pond
2010 Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: Shadows of the Vashta Nerada Amy Pond
2011 Doctor Who: The Adventure Games: The Gunpowder Plot Amy Pond


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 [42]
2010 Cosmopolitan "Woman of the Year" Awards Best Actress Won [43]
2011 SFX Awards Best Actress Won [44]
2011 TV Choice Awards Best Actress Won [45]
2011 Scream Awards Best Sci-Fi Actress Nominated [46]
2012 National Television Awards Best Drama Performance – Female Won [47]
2012 Scottish Fashion Awards Scotland's Fashion Icon Herself Won [48]
2013 National Television Awards Best Drama Performance – Female Doctor Who Nominated [49]
2014 Fright Meter Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role Oculus Nominated [50]
2014 Detroit Film Critics Society Best Ensemble Guardians of the Galaxy Won [51]
2014 Phoenix Film Critics Society Best Cast Guardians of the Galaxy Nominated [52]
2015 Empire Awards Best Female Newcomer Guardians of the Galaxy and Oculus Won [53][54]


  1. ^ Gilbert, Gerard (7 May 2011). "Obsessive fans, short skits and life with Doctor Who". The Independent (London: Independent Print Limited). Retrieved 30 July 2011. 
  2. ^ "Interview Karen Gillan". The Scotsman. 3 April 2010. 
  3. ^ Macleod, Calum (26 March 2010). "Who's that girl?". Inverness Courier (Scottish Provincial Press). Retrieved 3 April 2010. 
  4. ^ Smith, Mark (22 March 2010). "Karen Gillan on being the new doctor who companion". The Herald (Newsquest). Retrieved 30 July 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Karen Gillan on her role as doctor who's new sexy sidekick, 20 June 2010 
  6. ^ Obsessive fans & Short Skirts, 7 May 2011 
  7. ^ "BBC Switch presents "The Well"". 
  8. ^ Karen Gillan bags relative role, STV, 31 March 2010 
  9. ^ MacDonald, Stuart (22 July 2010), "Gillan never watched Dr Who until landing leading role", The Scotsman 
  10. ^ Morgan, Susan (24 April 2011). "Reader Holidays Cities Direct Interview: Karen Gillan, Doctor Who actor". The Scotsman. 
  11. ^ a b "Doctor Who star Karen Gillan to make theatre debut". BBC News (BBC). 22 July 2011. Retrieved 1 August 2011. 
  12. ^ "'Doctor Who' star Karen Gillan set for Season 7: 'I am going to come back!'". Zap2it. Retrieved 1 August 2011. 
  13. ^ Sperling, Daniel (15 December 2011). "'Doctor Who': Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill to leave next series". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 15 December 2011. 
  14. ^ "We'll Take Manhattan". BBC News. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  15. ^ a b Cooper, Sarah (1 August 2011). "Not another happy ending". Screen Daily. Retrieved 1 August 2011. 
  16. ^ "John McKay Talks 'Not Another Happy Ending'". 18 June 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  17. ^ ""Not Another Happy Ending" Casts Stanley Weber". 18 June 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  18. ^ "Karen Gillan And Arthur Darvill: What’s Next?". 26 March 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  19. ^ "Karen Gillan Rom-Com Will Close Edinburgh Film Festival". 24 April 2013. Retrieved 24 May 2013. 
  20. ^ Deans, Jason (30 March 2011). "Doctor Who's Karen Gillan to play Jean Shripton in BBC4 drama". The Guardian (London). 
  21. ^ "Karen Gillan to star in Romeo & Brittney". 
  22. ^ "Casting: Karen Gillan to star in "Oculus"". It’s on the grid. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  23. ^ "Karen Gillan To Star in Sky1's A Touch of Cloth". Digitalspy.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-09-09. 
  24. ^ "Karen Gillan facts". FHM.com. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  25. ^ "FHM's 100 Sexiest Women in the World 2012: Part 07 (40-31)". 19 August 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2012. 
  26. ^ "Report: 'Guardians of the Galaxy' villains revealed". Hit Fix. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  27. ^ a b Wicks, Kevin (21 March 2013). "‘Doctor Who’ Alum Karen Gillan Joins Adult Swim’s ‘NTSF:SD:SUV::’". BBC America. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  28. ^ Goldman, Eric (21 March 2013). "Doctor Who's Karen Gillan Joins NTSF:SD:SUV". IGN. Retrieved 3 January 2014. 
  29. ^ Urban Arts Partnership: The 24 Hour Plays on Broadway Benefit 2013
  30. ^ Development Update from The Futon Critic (May 8, 2014)
  31. ^ Lazarus, Suzanna (9 May 2014). "Karen Gillan's US comedy Selfie gets a full series". Radio Times. Retrieved 11 May 2014. 
  32. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (7 November 2014). "'Selfie' Cancelled By ABC". Deadline.com. PMC. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  33. ^ Mitovich, Matt Webb (24 November 2014). "Unaired Selfie Episodes Head to Hulu". TVLine. PMC. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  34. ^ Yamato, Jen (23 May 2014). "'Doctor Who's Karen Gillan Joins Ti West's 'In A Valley Of Violence'". Deadline.com. PMC. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  35. ^ "TV's 100 Sexiest Women of 2014". BuddyTV. Retrieved December 9, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Fashion Targets Breast Cancer Launches New Campaign for 2011". 13 April 2011. 
  37. ^ "Squirrel Ward opens with a visit from Karen Gillan". Great Ormond Street Hospital. 
  38. ^ "Doctor Who actress Karen Gillan travels back in time as she moves into family home". Daily Record. 24 September 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2012. 
  39. ^ "Karen Gillan on life, love and Doctor Who". 15 June 2013. 
  40. ^ Petski, Denise (13 March 2015). "HBO Pilot ‘The Devil You Know': Ever Carradine & Damien Molony Among Additions". The Devil You Know (Deadline). Retrieved 14 March 2015. 
  41. ^ "@KarenGillan: "So excited to join this incredible cast. I am in awe of everyone."". Twitter. 13 March 2015. Retrieved 14 March 2015. 
  42. ^ TV Quick Awards UK (2010): Winners and nominees
  43. ^ cosmopolitan.co.uk (3 November 2010). "Cosmo's Ultimate Women of the Year Awards". Cosmopolitan. Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  44. ^ Golder, Dave (5 February 2011). "SFX Awards Winners Announced (2011)". GamesRadar. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  45. ^ Published Tuesday, September 13, 2011, 5:29pm EDT (13 September 2011). "TV Choice Awards 2011 – The winners – TV News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 5 September 2012. 
  46. ^ Budow, Aileen (7 September 2011). "Spike TV Announces “SCREAM Awards 2011″ Nominees". Spike TV. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  47. ^ "National Television Awards winners list - In Full". Digital Spy. 25 January 2012. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  48. ^ "Doctor Who '​s Day Roundup: Karen Gillan Named Scottish Fashion Icon of the Year". BBC America. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 16 June 2012. 
  49. ^ "National TV Awards 2013: The winners' list - in full". Digital Spy. 23 January 2013. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  50. ^ Fright Meter Awards 2014: Winners and nominees
  51. ^ "The 2014 Detroit Film Critics Society Awards". Detroit Film Critics Society. 15 December 2014. Retrieved 31 March 2015. 
  52. ^ Phoenix Film Critics Society 2014 Award Nominations
  53. ^ The Jameson Empire Awards 2015 Live Blog
  54. ^ Barraclough, Leo (March 30, 2015). "‘Interstellar’ wins Film, Director at Empire Awards". Variety.com (Penske Business Media). Retrieved March 30, 2015. 

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