Top 10 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Karen Gillan

Karen Gillan in white shirt laughing
Actress Karen Gillan

Don’t we all love the ‘Jumanji’ actress? Wait, I hope you know that we are talking about Karen Gillan?

Welcome to WatchTank and today we are counting down picks to reveal the top ten surprising facts about the ‘Nebula’ actress, Karen Gillan. We bet you had no idea about any of these.

But, before we kick-start, how about a short introduction?

It probably took around 12 years for this Scottish actress to become one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses. Isn’t that an achievement in itself?

Born in November 1987 in Inverness, Scotland, it did not take much time for Gillan to reach the peak of fame. Gillan caught attention by playing Amy Pond in BBC’s ‘Doctor Who’. This success was followed by her exceptionally wonderful acting in Marvel films like ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, ‘Avengers’, and the ‘Jumanji’ series.

With more involvement behind the camera nowadays, Karen Gillam’s Hollywood career is still on the rising curve.

So, that was intriguing enough, right?! Now, here are the top ten most surprising facts about Karen Gillan. Read it well:

10. A teenage director

Karen is the single born of Marie and John Gillan. Gillan was blessed with all her Scottish charms and colloquialisms which proves her relation to roots. Gillan’s father has mentioned her fascination with television from early in her childhood. She wanted to crawl into the television as a kid (Come on, even you did that!). In fact, as a teenager, she started making amateur horror movies at home with her dad as the lead and only role. Gillan would put ketchup over her dad to fake blood in these movies! She has mentioned in interviews how growing up without siblings has made her spend time alone thinking and making stories which paved a pathway for the future director in her.

Such a genius, right?!

9. Youngest Companion in Doctor Who

Do you know what was Karen’s age while starring in Doctor Who? Any guesses? Well, she was only 21 when she started in Doctor Who as a companion in 2009. Her partner, Matt Smith was 26. An interesting fun fact states that while auditioning for ‘Doctor Who’, where she played Amy Pond, it was so secretive that Karen Gillan used the code word “Panic Moon” at the BBC reception instead of the real location. Now, Panic Moon is an anagram of “companion”!

8. Too tall for Daleks

Karen Gillan speaking at the 2017 Phoenix Comicon
Karen Gillan speaking at the 2017 Phoenix Comicon

Karen is 180 cm, and hence her stint of modelling right at the beginning of her career made sense. However, the surprising factor is she is almost half a foot taller than Bille Piper, the first companion, and from the other companions in ‘Doctor Who’. With the presence of Gillan, the production crew had to redesign and remake Daleks to match her height.

Atta girl!

7. Two roles in Doctor Who

This isn’t easy to catch unless you are die-hard ‘Doctor Who’ fan. Amy Pond (featured in 36 episodes) is not the only character Karen has portrayed in ‘Doctor Who’. Two years before Amy Pond’s existence, Karen did a guest role in a 2008 episode titled “The Fires of Pompei”. She portrayed a soothsayer with a similar makeup of Nebula which she portrayed for Marvel.

6. Karen cannot swim

While we are in the ‘Doctor Who’ regime, it is noteworthy to mention how the Doctor Who team had to accommodate Karen’s needs. There was once a scene which involved flooding the TARDIS, a spacecraft and fictional time machine. Gillian, 24 at that time, mentioned how her co-star Matt Smith realized she could not swim when they once went for a dip. Gillan was candid enough to confess she had ruined the show because of her lack of swimming knowledge as the team had to cut the scene out.

5. Origin of American Accent

Karen Gillan speaking at the 2015 Phoenix Comicon Fan Fest

Though Karen has deep roots in Scottish culture, since ‘Doctor Who’ is a BBC show, she got her grip on honing the American accent. Ever wondered how she managed to achieve that? Karen used to play with Barbie dolls in childhood (which is common for little girls) and forced the dolls to speak like Americans, which she would observe from the American television shows. She would practice different dialects and tones which gave her a firm grasp of an American accent and this proved to be immensely helpful in her role as Nebula in the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ film series.

4. Karen donated her hair to Star Wars

Karen Gillan revealing her bald shaved head

A very well-known fact is that Karen shaved her head fully and went bald to portray the role of Nebula in the ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, which released in 2014. But do you know the destination of her long red hair? She donated her hair to the crew of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ which released in 2015 and is another Disney production. It is not clear where exactly her hair went in the grand production of Star Wars classic, but surely it gives another human touch to this science-fiction movie series. Look out for her locks next time you watch this film!

3. Dating Co-Stars

Karen has dated quite a few co-stars throughout her career. The list included names like ‘Doctor Who’s Matt Smith and Andrew Brooke who rose to fame from the Sherlock Holmes movie. While there are more as sparks than relationships, she had a long-term relationship from 2006 to 2012 with photographer, Patrick Green. Karen, then 24, parted ways with her six-year relationship. Though the couple were very private and rarely seen outside, in a magazine interview, the information slipped out. With those flings and breakups, she has cited a busy schedule and long work hours as the primary reason for being single.

2. The hobby of playing the piano

Karen Gillan has a hidden talent. Can you guess what it is?! She is great behind the keyboard and is an accomplished musician. She has been playing the piano from a very young age and as a teenager, she had considered a musical career instead of pursuing an acting career. In an interview with the “The Herald”, she has attributed her love of music to her father. Music is her first love which eventually paved the pathway into acting. The American romantic comedy series named Selfie which featured John Cho along with Karen, featured her singing chops, and in Baltimore, we saw she could play the piano amazingly well.

Before, we reach the finale, here are a few honorary mentions:

Karen Gillan’s desire to become a mother

Karen Gillan has always expressed her desire to become a mother. But she restrains herself from being in a relationship because of her career. The red-headed ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ star added that she would love to have “ginger children running around”.

Karen prefers Celtic games

When asked about her favorite sport, Karen replied that she has a fondness for Celtic games.

1. Directorial debut: The Party’s Just Beginning

We already saw Karen’s interest in movie-making from childhood days when she directed horror movies with her father as the actor. That made it very evident that she will eventually take her career in this direction sooner than later. Karen went behind the camera for a couple of short films in 2015 – a drama named Coward and one in the horror-drama genre titled Conventional. In the latter, she featured as director, writer as well as an actor showing the horrifying implications of getting trapped in a celebrity’s life. In 2018 she ventured into her first full-length movie direction with The Party’s Just Beginning. The movie written and directed by Karen premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival in 2018. In her lead role, Karen played a girl who gets indulged in binge drinking and casual sex but turns stable when her best friend committed suicide. Another short film in 2019, The Hoarding, saw her in the director’s role. Of course, Karen is not in a mood to steer away from this and expressed her ambition to direct the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies someday in the future.

These are only some of the lesser-known facts of Karen Gillan. There are a lot more to tell about the blooming star and her fan following is only going to increase in the years to come. We love how she portrays her every role with much ease and perfection. We wish Karen Gillan all the very best for a rising career graph.

Did we cover all the unknown facts? Let us know in the comments below.

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