Interview: Karen Gillan on ‘Jumanji’, ‘Avengers’, and… ‘Game of Thrones’?
Matt GlasbyFeatures | 11 January 18
Karen Gillan is one busy woman. Having roamed the galaxy in TV’s Dr Who, she guard(ian)ed it – twice – and has recently graduated to Marvel’s major league for the forthcoming Avengers: Infinity War. Not only that, the exuberant Scot has just relocated from LA to New York because, long story short, she’s ginger and she can’t drive. Ahead of Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, Matt Glasby chatted to her on the phone…
FLICKS: Hello Karen, how are you?
KAREN GILLAN: Not too bad, not too bad… I’m in Atlanta right now, shooting the new Avengers film. It’s also where everything is shooting at the moment, so there’s just actors from all sorts of projects wondering around, it’s really funny.
Seen any big names?
Yeah you’ll see them in the elevator of the hotel and stuff, but I was most excited about the kids from Stranger Things. [Laughs] I loved the first series of that…
What did you think of the first ‘Jumanji’?
That pretty much covers it. How does the new film differ from the original?
Well the whole concept has evolved a lot… Obviously, it was a board game in the original and now it’s a computer game from the 1990s, which is always fun to have, a homage to the 1990s. Also in the original, the world of Jumanji bled into the real world, whereas we’re getting sucked into Jumanji. So everything we imagined Jumanji would be in the first one we get to see in this film, which I’m really excited about because I always used to imagine what it would be like in that game. So we’re gonna see four misfit teenagers trying to navigate that… It’s like wish-fulfillment for me, and also to see Jack Black play the 16-year-old popular girl from school is just a delight.
How does it feel to be billed alongside him and The Rock?
Really surreal, like this is a joke. Like how have I managed to get my name anywhere near theirs? I don’t know, but it’s pretty funny, I laugh at it when I see it on posters.
There are some cool-looking action sequences in the trailer…
This is the most stunt work that I’ve ever done for a role before. And, you know, I play Nebula in the Guardians Of The Galaxy films and now Avengers, and she is a deadly space assassin who fights all the time. So I thought I’d probably reached my limit with that but no, Jumanji put me through it. My character in the game has all these special skills and she can basically do every martial art, and there’s one particular sequence that’s a long fight sequence where I basically just take down two guys in the most brutal way possible to a very funny song. It was one of the most challenging but fun scenes I’ve ever shot.
Why was it so challenging?
Because it was a long fight sequence that I had to do from start to finish, and we had to rehearse a lot and there were stunts and smashing things over people’s heads, and then you go into the next move, so we just did one version. Normally you break these things up into little things, and we did, but also we did a version where like I did it from start to finish.
What was the song?
That’s a spoiler, I can’t say!
Talking of spoilers… We know you can’t talk too much about ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ but it’s got one hell of a cast. Is it the best ever?
It might be! The stuff we’ve been shooting is so good, I’m just so excited for people to see the film it’s just going to be so satisfying for Marvel fans because it’s like every superhero interacting with each other and there’s just so many satisfying crossovers in there. It’s really cool.
Now, of course, you’re an Avenger for life. There’s no way back.
Yeah, I’m excited to have two things on my obituary and they are: Dr Who companion and Avenger [laughs].
Now you’re famous, how do people react when you go back to Scotland?
Erm, really good, I just see all my friends from school and they all think LA sounds great because obviously our weather isn’t very good and they’re known for their weather. However, it’s mainly me moaning about LA. LA’s been great to me and I really had a good time there, but it’s just not my vibe with the weather and the outdoorsy-ness, so I don’t really harp on about it, I’m always going on about New York to be honest.
Are people surprised when they find out you’re not American?
Yeah, they’re like, “Where in the hell are you from?”
Then they say, “I’m Scottish too!”?
That’s exactly how they go. [Puts on American accent] “I’m Scaaaaaartish,” and I go, “Are you?” And then it’ll be that their great great great granddad was from Scotland.
Do you ever get mistaken for other actresses?
Yeah, one time. This is ridiculous. I had just finished on Guardians and I was very tired because I had to get up at two in the morning to go to work, so I was really tired and after a long day’s shooting the concierge in the place where I live was like, “I KNEW IT WAS YOU! I love you in Game Of Thrones and X-Men. I knew it was you when I saw the electric blue eyes.” And I’m thinking, I’ve got brown eyes and I’m not in Game Of Thrones. It must be this actress Sophie Turner, who’s got long red hair.” And then I was so tired I just went along with it, I was like, “Thank you so much.” I was going off to the lift but he engaged me in conversation about it and I was in too far to own up to it, thinking, “Please don’t ask me any questions about X-Men!” Then it got really awkward and I had run away, because I was too scared I was gonna get busted. I should have told him that wasn’t me from the start, but I was too tired to cope with it.
So is that the reason you moved to New York?
And that is why I moved to New York… [laughs]. That’s the main reason.
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