Karen Gillan FAULT Magazine Covershoot and Interview

Karen Gillan X FAULT Magazine

Dress – Moschino
Shoes – Moschino
Gloves – Moschino
Earrings – Bondeye Jewelry

Photographer / Creative Director / Producer: Raen Badua

Stylist: Luca Kingston | The Wall Group –

Hairstylist: Bobby Eliot | The Wall Group

Makeup Artist: Nina Park

Photo Assistant: Miles Caliboso

2nd Photo Assistant: Vincent Madero

Style Assistants: Natalie Ceciliano & Jimmy Ayala

Hair Assistant: Selina Boon

Studio: Go Inspire Studio

Studio Manager: Jonah Gozlan

It’s been nearly ten years since Karen Gillan first captivated audiences with her portrayal of Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1. Now, on the dawn of Vol. 3, Karen Gillan has skilfully brought to life all the different sides of Nebula’s character, from being a fierce villain to a sympathetic hero. And we’re eagerly anticipating where her character journey takes us in this latest instalment.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Karen Gillan to chat about her upcoming role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, her exciting independent movie roles, and, of course, her FAULTs.

Words: Miles Holder

Dress – Moschino
Shoes – Moschino
Gloves – Moschino
Earrings – Bondeye Jewelry

Interview: Miles Holder

You’d been playing Nebula for almost ten years, is it exciting to still find new roads to travel with the character?

That’s such a long time, isn’t it? One of the things that I love so much about working in the franchise space is that you get much longer to tell the character’s story. I’ve had 10 years with Nebula, which has been amazing because this character is so complex and interesting that it needed this amount of time to evolve properly and for us to explore all the layers of the trauma she has dealt with in her life.

Every time I’ve played her, there’s been something new that I’ve managed to uncover thanks to the writing and the character’s backstory. This time around, we’re getting a very different version of the character because the source of all her trauma <Thanos> has been eliminated from her life.

Dress – Moschino
Shoes – Moschino
Gloves – Moschino
Earrings – Bondeye Jewelry

Do you ever feel pressure to live up to the character you’ve helped become to beloved?

When I’m playing the character, I’m not really thinking beyond the scene or the movie that we’re making at that moment. It’s like I’m hyper-focused on portraying the scene most truthfully and bringing the character to life.

It more hits me afterwards when I realise this is going out into the world and will be judged by so many people. When you’re acting in big Marvel films or TV shows like Doctor Who, there’s usually a built-in fan base, and you want to live up to their expectations because they’re very passionate about these franchises. You hope that you’ve done a good enough job to make them happy and enjoy it.

What’s one aspect of playing Nebula do you find most fascinating to discuss?

Whenever I’m talking about Nebula, I always enjoy discussing her character, backstory, and why she is the way she is. This has been an interesting exploration into what it means to be a scapegoated sibling in a family dynamic with a narcissistic parent. As an only child, I never experienced that, but I know people who have, and I admire the resilience of the siblings who were never good enough and could never live up to the golden child. It takes so much strength to overcome.
That’s what Nebula represents to me; someone who was never good enough. Therefore, she struggles with self-worth and accepting love from others because she doesn’t feel worthy.

Dress – Kamilla Purshie
Boots – Le Silla
Earrings – Melinda Maria
Rings – Graziela

Does your process shift when you’re portraying characters in large sci-fi roles compared to characters rooted more in a real world setting?

No, it’s the same. I believe that finding the human aspects of a character makes them relatable to people. I try to understand, empathise and connect with the character, seeking out what I can relate to. Hopefully, this helps other people to connect to the character as well. I would never approach a character by saying, ‘I’m going to play an alien who travels through time and space’ . Instead, I look for an emotional hook that I can grab onto. If I can’t find it within a character, I wouldn’t play the role because I genuinely wouldn’t know what to do with it.

What, what would you say was the biggest challenge this time around?

I challenged myself to find a new version of Nebula because we have seen her quite a few times now. I was improvising a little bit more, working with James Gunn, the director and writer, to find a lighter version of the character, maybe even a funny version of her. I tried to be looser with my performance, dare myself to try things, and be more open to improvisation. A few years prior, I would have been too nervous to do it, for fear of falling flat on my face.

Karen Gillan
Earrings-Begum Khan

You recently starred in the short film Eureka! and coming-of-age film Late Bloomers – do you purposely look for roles more down to earth in scale or has it been more organic?

It’s a pretty organic process. Eureka was written by my husband, and when he asked me if I wanted to be in it, I immediately said yes because I love his writing so much. He’s one of my favourite writers, and his work is both funny and profound.

As for Late Bloomers, that also came about organically, written and directed by friends. However, I’m actually really selective about the projects I take on. I would rather do very little work than a bunch of work that’s just okay. So while it’s organic, it’s also thought through. It’s nice to balance the blockbuster stuff with smaller projects, even though I approach the characters in the same way.

Do you ever feel industry pressure to be continuously at work and keeping to keep your name out there?

I’ve definitely felt that pressure but don’t know if I’ve ever dwelled on it. When you’ve come from a very normal background and no one you knew growing up is in this industry, it’s all a bit like, “What the hell is this? Is it going to disappear at any given moment?” But that’s just anxiety grabbing onto anything that it can to manifest and rear its head. I didn’t even know the term anxiety a few years ago, and now I’m like, “Oh, you’re harassing yourself right now.” And it’s really helpful to be able to point that out and then go, “You know what? I’m not going to act on anything right now, and I’m going to just see how I feel after a really good night’s sleep, some water, a good meal, and some exercise.”

Karen Gillan
Dress-Carolina Herrera
Shoes-Reike Nea
Heart ring-Mejuri
Star ring-Bondeye Jewelry
Signet ring-L’atelier Nawbar

After completing a project, do you find it easy to switch off and leave the character behind or do you find that they linger with you?

I’m adopting little character traits every time I play a role, and they’re not leaving me. So, I’m a little nervous that I’ll end up with this weird mishmash of traits that I’ve created for different characters, and they’re not always traits that I want. For instance, one character that I played in an indie movie used to scrunch up her face all the time, and I thought it would be perfect for her. She was very animated and she wrinkled her forehead a lot. And now, I find myself doing that even when I’m not playing that role.

What is your FAULT?

I have social anxiety. I can be really socially anxious. I don’t even know exactly where it came from, but I’ve always been that way. I’ve always had this terribly cautious brain.

I’m definitely working on it, but I’m also not mad at myself about it because it means that maybe I have the type of brain that can do other things well.