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Karen Gillan Faces the Challenge of 'Doctor Who'

by Nick Zaino, posted Apr 23rd 2010 1:29PM
Karen Gillan as Amy Pond on 'Doctor Who'In the season debut of 'Doctor Who,' we got a new Doctor in Matt Smith, a new writer/producer in Steven Moffat, and the Doctor got a new companion in Amy Pond, played by Scottish actress Karen Gillan. But the series and the Doctor got something a bit more in Amy, who shows sings of being a more of a challenge, more of an independent thinker than many of her predecessors.

Amy and the Doctor meet when Amy is just a child, and then several years later, after she has mythologized him for years, and felt disappointment that he has been gone for so long. Immediately, they are on strange footing. When she leaves with the Doctor, we see the wedding dress she left behind. This week, we'll get to see a it more of Amy, as she and the Doctor take the TARDIS for its first spin. We'll also get to see "Starship U.K." and some new villains, the "Smilers."

TV Squad spoke with Gillan last week.

What was your impression of 'Doctor Who' before auditioning? Was it a program you had a history with?

No, not really, because I grew up when it wasn't on television. And then it came back in 2005. And I had seen a bit of it, but I wasn't a huge follower of it. But I think everyone in the U.K.... it's really part of the culture and everyone's really aware of 'Doctor Who.' If you show a kid a TARDIS who hasn't even seen 'Doctor Who,' they'll know what it is. And in that way, it's kind of in the make-up of the country. So I sort of knew all about it but having not actually followed it as a fan.

So you wouldn't have any previous favorite companions or anything like that that you brought into the role.

Well, no. I didn't base Amy on anyone, and I think that would be a mistake, to do that. I think that you've just got to start afresh and sort of not do that. But I did enjoy the previous companions since it came back in 2005. I loved Rose Tyler and the Tenth Doctor. I really liked their relationship.

Karen Gillan and Matt Smith as Amy and the Doctor on 'Doctor Who'Was there any sort of summit between you, Matt Smith and Steven Moffat about what Amy and the Doctor's relationship should be?

Yeah. We all kind of sat down and really, really talked about it. I did some really intense discussions and rehearsals with the first director, called Adam Smith, and worked out who Amy was and exactly why she does what she does. And then I sat down with Steven Moffat and he told me all his views and opinions on Amy. Then I sat down with Matt and we talked about their relationship. So we thoroughly talked about it, but the most learning is done when you're actually on set creating it.

Do you think that you, personally, share Amy's sense of adventure?

Yeah. I would like to think so. She's a pretty adventurous girl, and that's what I love about her. She's kind of the girl I want to be. But I do think I'm fairly adventurous, sort of moving away from home quite young. But not quite as adventurous as jumping in a time machine with an alien.

How early did you move away from home?

I was 16 when I moved away from my home town of Inverness to do acting.

Can you talk specifically about how Amy challenges the Doctor as the series develops? The press release interview said that they were more equal and she doesn't take his word for gospel.

She doesn't. I love their relationship. I think it's a really, really interesting dynamic because of the way they meet in the first episode. It's really interesting and original and it has pretty devastating effects on Amy's life and Amy as a person. And it kind of shapes the person she is when we see her, when we meet her. She's not very happy with the Doctor, therefore she's quite skeptical, and she doesn't trust him very easily at all. She questions him. And she's almost as mad as he is. They really do combust, and it's a roller coaster of a relationship. But the bottom line is, they really do care about each other, and that's probably why they drive each other up the wall.

There's a kind of Peter Pan framework about it as well, where you have Amy as a kid who sees this magical person, and then he comes and takes her, to mix my fictional worlds here, to this sort of Neverland that TARDIS can provide.

Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And I would say the series is really fairy tale-esque and magical. There are many parallels there, actually. And that's interesting framing, because she's in an interesting place when we meet her and then she decides to run away and not deal with it, and go on adventures with this strange man.

In the premiere, the Doctor tells Amy, "I'll be right back," and she says, "Why are people always saying that?" Do we get the back story on that line as the season goes on?

Uh... yes. We do. But I'm not going to give anything away, because that's a spoiler. [laughs] She is very used to be abandoned in her life. Her aunt kind of abandons her... well doesn't abandon her, but she's left on her own. She's a little kid and she's left on her own. And then the Doctor says he's going to be back in five minutes, and he doesn't come back fro twelve years. This has happened to her too many times. It will be explored more throughout the series later on.

How does the relationship between Amy and the Doctor deepen in the second episode?

The second episode. That's an interesting one for them because it's their first adventure together. And it's Amy's chance to prove herself, that she's worthy of this, I suppose. There are hiccups along the way, and there are fallouts between them, which I think is quite nice.

Karen Gillan as Amy Pond on 'Doctor Who'It's said that Amy has a pivotal role in the second episode. Is there anything you can say about that without giving too much away?

Something quite traumatic happens to Amy in the second episode, and there's a choice that has to be made. And the Doctor's not very happy about that.

What are the Smilers like?

Ah, the Smilers. I just find them so creepy. I think they really tap into your fear, well, many people's fears, of clowns and carnival things. That's what they remind me of, and they're just so horrible and smiley. [laughs]

I haven't seen a picture of them yet.

Ah, they're like these weird smiling mannequin things in booths.

How about Starship U.K.? Why did the U.K. decide it needed to leave the Earth?

That's explained in the second episode quite early on. I don't know if I can give that away, but there's a valid reason for that, far in the future.

Is it that the U.K. has left the Earth or is it a representative of the U.K. out there searching?

Ooh, can I give that away [presumably speaking to a BBC PR person]? I don't know. I'm going to be on the safe side and not tell you, because you have to watch it!

So do you think Amy will get back in time for her wedding?

Ah, that's interesting. It's kind of a ticking clock in the series in regards to that. Maybe she will, maybe she won't.

Is this a role you could see yourself playing for a few years?

Oh, I could. I absolutely could. If I was invited back, then I will be back with bells on.

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Hi, "Sidewalks Entertainment" did an interview with Karen and Matt Smith. They had fan questions for both. Take a look: http://sidewalkstv.com/webclips/d/doctorwho.html

April 23 2010 at 10:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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