Karen Gillan Talks About Doctor Who

Karen Gillan As Doctor Who's Amy Pond. Photo copyright of the BBC

This is the third of four BBC America press interviews with Doctor Who cast and crew, counting down to the premiere of the show’s new season on BBC America, April 17th @ 9:00 p.m. EST/PST. Enjoy!  

The regenerations of the Doctor are a staple part of the mythology of Doctor Who, but across the past five decades there has been another constant in the series; the changing faces of the companion. Now Karen Gillan, born in Inverness, Scotland, becomes the latest actress to join the Doctor in the TARDIS. Here she discusses landing the enviable role, the production team’s continued use of secret anagrams (Torchwood was an anagram used for labeling Doctor Who tapes on older seasons) and making her mother cry…  

“It was one of the strangest experiences ever; it was a really weird feeling,” exclaims Karen Gillan about her casting as Amy Pond. “I found out on the day of my second audition with Matt Smith (the Doctor), so at least I didn’t have a really long wait. It just didn’t feel real, and I couldn’t believe it!”  

But auditioning for Doctor Who is unlike any other audition for the excitable, down-to-earth actress. “I knew that the audition was for the part of the Companion, but I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone about it. They even had a code name for the role because it was so top-secret. The code name was ‘Panic Moon;’ an anagram of Companion, which I thought was really clever.” 

Even after Gillan discovered she had been cast as Amy Pond, the veil of secrecy was not lifted.  

“I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone that I got the part, but my boyfriend was with me when I found out, so there was rather a lot of screaming! I decided not to tell my parents as I didn’t want to spoil the surprise, but when I finally did tell them, I made a special day of it and my mom took a day off work. She just couldn’t believe it when I told her. She was doing the dishes and she literally stopped in her tracks and cried. She’s a huge fan of the show and has been for years. She even has Dalek bubble bath at home!”  

Part of the interest in Gillan was due to her being a relative newcomer to the industry, so how would she explain her life so far to the public?  

“I’m from Inverness in Scotland, right up in the Highlands. When I was 16 I moved to Edinburgh to study acting and stayed there for a year, then at 17 I decided to move to London to continue my acting career,” she reveals. “I also did a little bit of modeling for two years, which I enjoyed. I met some great people and it was a really fantastic experience.”  

Amy comes face-to-face with a less-than friendly extraterrestrial. Photo copyright of the BBC

Since Doctor Who‘s return in 2005, there have been a number of memorable Companions for the Doctor. How does Gillan feel Amy compares to those who have gone before?  

“Well, for a start, Steven Moffat [executive producer] has written a brilliant character. I do think Amy is different from previous Companions because she’s very equal to the Doctor. She doesn’t take his word as gospel and she’s always happy to challenge him. If he tells her to do something, she won’t necessarily do it. Amy might go off and do her own thing, which can sometimes create a rift between the two of them! They are best pals, though, and it’s a very up and down relationship because they are both very passionate people.”  

So is it fair to say that we will see some conflict between Amy and the Doctor?  

“The Doctor is definitely an Alpha make and Amy is an Alpha female, so when they meet, they combust. They have quite a turbulent relationship, but it’s also really passionate and they care about each other. Amy can really hold her own against him and Steven’s written some great one-liners. It’s a great relationship.”  

And Gillian feels that Matt Smith as the youngest actor to play the Doctor, has risen admirably to the challenge.  

“I think Steven said it perfectly; Matt manages to be old and young at the same time,” explains Gillan. “That’s the great thing about the Doctor; he has the energy and mischief of a young child as well as the wisdom, age and intelligence of someone a lot older. Also, with Matt’s performance in particular, he’s so believable that he isn’t human. He has all these things that he does that make you really believe he’s an alien or a Time Lord, and you’re drawn in by that.”  

The Doctor (Matt Smith) and Amy (Karen Gillan) - a combustible twosome and a perfectly matched team. Photo copyright of the BBC

As noted above, all photos copyright of the BBC, so please no unauthorized copying or duplicating of any kind. Thanks!

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2 Responses to “Karen Gillan Talks About Doctor Who”

  1. Johnathan Says:

    Matt Smith has been a great Doctor, log may he continue in the role

  2. Chris Says:

    I find the best doctor to this day is David Tennant. That guy is irreplacable. When he said “I don’t wanna go” just before he regenerated, i bet everyone had a little tear in their eye.

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