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Interview: Karen Gillan

jason stives interviews the lovely doctor who companion…

There is a scene in the episode “Vincent and the Doctor” from Doctor Who’s fifth season where Vincent Van Gogh awakes in the morning to find miss Amelia Pond in his garden, all smiles and surrounded by sunflowers. Save for the sunflowers, this is what the real Amy Pond, actress Karen Gillian presents herself as when you first meet her. Rosy cheeks, and long ginger hair, Karen is very a cheery person who speaks fondly of her time playing one of the most memorable companions to grace the TARDIS console room.

With these upcoming five episodes being the last for both her and her co star and onscreen husband Arthur Darvill, there is a lot of reminiscing to be had and many emotions to go around. Her run as Amy Pond will culminate in “The Angels Take Manhattan” an episode that the show travelled abroad to the US to film and it features the return of everyone’s’ favorite baddies, The Weeping Angels. Karen spoke with myself and a plethora of Whovian journalists about the last days of the Ponds, the recent “Pond-Life” mini webisodes, and a strange encounter with a fan named River.


Question 1: So we have Amy and Rory leaving this season but is there any room for a return? You have the Pond Life mini episode series airing in the coming week. That could be a great spin-off!

Karen Gillian: That was actually really fun because you never get to see the snippets in between their adventures with The Doctor and that’s what we did. Then in Episode 4 of this batch that’s what we deal with is a whole episode of these two dealing with domestic life with this time traveler popping in and out to take them on these crazy adventures (laugh). So it’s really cool!

Question 2: So could you see a return as being feasible?

Karen Gillian: I’ve actually always said that when I go I want it to be permanent. I would like for those final scenes to be lasting you know ten years on. I want that to resonate emotionally when people go back to re-watch that episode. So that is the most important thing for me and sadly I’m going to have to rule out any return down the line.

Question 3: What challenged you in these last few episodes you had to film?

Karen Gillian: I mean these are some of the biggest episodes we have ever done. These five are like film epic sized stories and they have really just been amazing. I mean filming here in New York and filming in Central Park was a challenge all unto itself. All these people turned up, like hundreds and hundreds of people! We had no security either! (laugh) But what was nice was everyone was very respectful and very quiet when we were shooting. Then when they would yell “cut!” then everyone would be like “Sign my TARDIS!” (laugh)


Question 4: You have said that your Mom is a proper fan. What are you most excited for Whovians like her to see this season. Is something that will make you cry? Make you laugh?

Karen Gillian: See that’s tough because now I’m trying to see it through my Mother’s eyes (laughs). Well in the first episode we have more Daleks than you have ever seen and you get to see them in a new light. Like I have never really found them that scary but I also love them because they are the most iconic villain in all of Doctor Who. But in this episode they are really frightening and I’m glad that we were able to pull that off. Then we have dinosaurs on a spaceship which is really cool because we have never had that before! Then we have a western that we shot in Spain and then of course the final episode we shot here and it features the Weeping Angels.

Question 5: So how many times can you kill Rory?

Karen Gillian: I know it’s ridiculous! It’s funny for me because you have to invent a new death reaction every single time.

Question 6: How are negotiations going to get you on Community?

Karen Gillian: Oh, I don’t know! I mean it’s strange I just sat on camera and was like “I love this show!” (laugh) I don’t know what’s going on there. Probably nothing but I do love Inspector Space Time.

Question 7: How similar would you say your feelings on leaving Doctor Who are similar to Amy’s in leaving the Doctor?

Karen Gillian: Well, probably fairly similar. In the final scene I had to shoot it’s not even really acting it’s just very real. Like I just related it to how I genuinely felt about leaving the show and it was really difficult and very emotional.

Question 8: How far along into shooting did you have to film that shot?


Karen Gillian: It was pretty far into the shoot at that point. Actually, the last thing we had to shoot was a fairly insignificant scene of us just going into the TARDIS waving bye. But I guess it was kind of significant because it was the three of us walking into the TARDIS for the last time and the episode is called “Power of Three” which is perfect. So Matt closed the door and we were just in complete darkness and we had this one giant hug in the dark and I cried and just milked it for all it was worth. It was amazing.

Question 9: Do you have a favorite moment from your time being a companion?

Karen Gillian: God so many! If I had to choose one I’m not sure. I mean my favorite episode to shoot was “The Eleventh Hour” just because there is a particular magic to that episode and we were introducing the characters and establishing their relationships for the first time. Actually my favorite scene doesn’t involve me at all but it was the fish custard scene. It’s my favorite scene in all of Doctor Who!

Question 10: So as the seasons have gone on, Amy has become increasingly popular each season with fans. Now that you are leaving, what do you think is the one characteristic of Amy looking back that fans gravitated to the most considering how many companions have come before you?

Karen Gillian: Well I hope that she is quiet relatable and flawed character that anyone can relate to. Someone who is really strong but clearly is vulnerable underneath it all so that’s what I hope people and fans will remember the most about her.

Question 11: Fans on the internet are very passionate about their love for the show and it can get very weird. What is the weirdest thing you have seen on the internet relating to you?

Karen Gillian: The weirdest thing? Actuall,y I didn’t see it on the Internet and it wasn’t about me (laugh) I was at a convention and this guy came up and he was dressed as a woman and he was like “Hello, I’m River Song.” I was like “What? Well yes I can see that.” He was like “No, I’m actually River Song.” I said “You’re name is actually River Song?” He said “Yes.” He actually had his name changed by Deed poll! There was also this guy in Australia who had an actual Doctor Who house. Like he had fake gates with the logo on it. Like this must of cost some money. It was very impressive.

Question 12: How do you think the audience will react when they see you leave? Do you think it will make them sad? Happy?

Karen Gillian: Well, I’ve watched it for the first time and cried my eyes out but obviously I am a little more invested in it than some (laugh). But I hope people get the sense of bravery that everyone has to go through in the episode and from that feel slightly emotional about it.


All Photos Credit: BBC America


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