Doctor Who is one of the staple fandoms at Dragon Con, and all of us Whovians were excited to have Karen Gillan attending for the first time, as evidenced by the packed Atrium Ballroom in the Marriott at 11:30 Monday morning. The room was full practically to capacity as we gathered for her second panel.
Gillan took questions on a range of topics, but unsurprisingly, the majority of them centered on her time as Amy Pond. One young fan asked what her favorite episode from Doctor Who was, and Gillan answered that it was her first episode, “The Eleventh Hour.” Interestingly, her young cousin, Caitlin Blackwood, played the young Amelia. Blackwood was recommended for the part by Gillan, but she still had to go through several auditions before getting the part. Now Blackwood is trying to decide whether to pursue acting as a profession. Gillan noted that she doesn’t want anyone pressuring Blackwood one way or the other, saying that she thinks Blackwood should be able to make the decision on her own. In answer to a later question, Gillan said that “The Eleventh Hour” was also one of the most difficult episodes to film from “the sheer terror.” According to Gillan, Moffat said this episode would be one of the most scrutinized pieces of television ever, which was quite terrifying. The other difficult episode for her to film was “The Angels Take Manhattan,” which was her and Arthur Darvill’s last regular episode. She said the hardest part was standing in the graveyard in Wales where they were filming and saying goodbye to Matt. “There was no acting required there,” she said. “That was genuine crying.”
One fan wanted to know what it is like being part of a series where she will be remembered “for centuries to come.” Gillan laughed and said that it was “totally mental” especially because in England Doctor Who is an institution.
A few of the questions centered on Doctor Who’s monsters, both her favorite creatures and which ones she didn’t get to interact with that she would have liked to. The favorite creature question was asked by a very dapper Steampunk Ood, complete with working Ood voice. Gillan replied that her favorite creature was the Weeping Angels. She would have most liked to interact with the Adipose. “They’re cute!” she said.
Aside from Doctor Who, Gillan is also well-known for portraying Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy. Gillan said that it was far more challenging for her to play Nebula than it was for her to play Amy because Nebula is such a departure from her own personality and she had to do a lot of physical training for the role. Of having to shave her head for the role, Gillan said that when she went to get it done, she was delirious from a lack of sleep and that the people shaving her head were very tentative and quiet with her, which just made it the funniest thing ever. She said her “family had a field day” with it. She’s not sure yet if she’ll have to shave her head again for the next Guardians movie.
One fan asked if she ever had a moment while she was filming something that she stopped and said to herself, “What am I doing?” Gillan nodded and said that she had that moment on Doctor Who a lot where it was her job to run away from monsters.
Gillan has several projects in the works or coming out soon. She’s about to start filming a new movie, The Circle, with Emma Watson, Tom Hanks, and John Boyega. She has another project that she’s working on that she’s not allowed to talk about but teased that it will involve singing. She’s finished working on a Western called In the Valley of Violence. She has written and directed a short film that she’s anxious to share, but it is currently making its way through some festivals. In the winter, the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie will begin filming in Atlanta. Finally, Gillan has written a feature film set in the Scottish Highlands and focusing on the high suicide rate there. She’s in the process of trying to get it made.
Throughout the panel, Gillan showed her comedic side, often cracking jokes and telling funny stories, mostly making fun of herself. It was a delightful hour spent with The Girl Who Waited.