Doctor Who: Karen Gillan interview

SFX talks to The Pond about next week’s episode, the piratical “The Curse Of The Black Spot”.

In SFX 209 (on sale Thursday 5 May), you can read an interview with Karen Gillan, conducted during filming of the third episode of the series, “The Curse Of The Black Spot”. We couldn’t fit all of it into the issue though, so here’s some more spare bits and bobs of Q&A.

SFX: Are you loving the clothes you’re getting to wear for this story?

“Yeah, this is my favourite outfit so far. It’s just really cool, it’s a massive pirate coat! I have a hat normally as well, and it’s just cool!”

SFX: So did she get this outfit from the TARDIS?

“These were picked up in the pirate ship. This is a pirate coat and a hat that she’s added to her outfit because, y’know, it just adds to her dramatic entrance with the sword.”

SFX: Were you into pirates when you were a little girl?

“Never, never. I’ve never really had an interest in pirates, but this is swaying it, yeah!”

SFX: We gather you’ve been doing lots of waving a cutlass around – have you had anyone’s eye out?

“Er, no I haven’t, and everyone was really nervous when I got a sword in my hand – like really nervous – but I was actually fairly co-ordinated, which was a surprise to all of us. I really, really got into it and I would actually like to take up sword fighting as a hobby – I really, really loved it! I just found it really fun. That’s actually one of the funnest days that I’ve ever had at work, when I got to do a fight sequence with a sword.”

SFX: Do they train you, or do they just push you out with a sword and say, “Wave that about a bit”?

“No, we choreographed an entire sequence which involved loads of blocking and then swiping. So I learned the whole thing, practised for two days beforehand and then we shot it, and yeah, I think it looks good.”

SFX: Did you have a stunt double, or is it just you?

“All of the stuff in the pirate episode is me, apart from one stunt which I wasn’t allowed to do. But I did as much as I was allowed to do.”

SFX: And how was swinging from the rigging?

“Really scary at first, and then I just loved it and rehearsed it loads, when we didn’t need to, because I enjoyed it that much. Then Arthur and I collided during a scene and the back of his head really hit my nose, so everyone was freaking out, but it wasn’t that bad! So I was trying to calm everyone down, saying ‘I’m fine!’ ‘No, we shouldn’t have put you on the ropes!’ We continued to do it for ages after that – I loved it!”

SFX: Were you any good on the ropes in PE at school?

“I remember the one and only time I went on a rope and I couldn’t get anywhere, because I have no upper body strength, so I couldn’t actually get off the ground! So thankfully when I was doing the stunt, swinging across the rigging, I had a harness and men on wires doing everything for me.”

SFX: Did you do anything to get into the pirate zone, like watch any films?

“I watched Pirates Of The Caribbean, the first one. I watched a bit of Keira Knightley doing a bit of fighting, just to get into it.”

SFX: We gather there was a huge crowd gathered while you were filming on the ship down in Cornwall. Is it weird trying to do your job when you have so many bystanders?

“Well, quite often we have a crowd if we’re filming in a public place, but we’ve never had a crowd that big, I think, who’d specifically come down just to see the filming. And they were just screaming constantly! So it was quite difficult to act when they’re in your eyeline, but it was really nice that they came down because they weren’t shouting horrible things, they were really excited.”

SFX: What were they shouting?

“Like, ‘Matt! Matt! I love you! Amy! Rory!’ Just names.”

SFX: We’ve seen Lily Cole on set, all painted green! Do you ever look at her and think, “God, I wish I was looking nuts like that”?

“Well I’m kind of split, because I know that she had to get up at four in the morning to get that green but no, I think it’d be really fun to do something like that, really really fun, to get to do something completely different. Though I think there is something of that nature – though not green – coming up for me later on in the series…”

SFX: When you think of pirate movies you think of parrots on shoulders and wooden legs and all that. Are they going for that, or is it a more realistic portrayal of how it actually was?

“I think there’s a bit of both, actually. I mean it is kind of big, swashbuckling adventure, but then they go into the story of the stowaway, a little boy, and there’s some sadness as well. So that’s good. I remember, actually, that they made the decision to not do cheesy pirate voices, so they’re kind of keeping it a bit more real.”

SFX: Is there any other historical period that you’d love to do in the series?

“Hmm. I always say I want to go back to the ’60s, but then I think, ‘Well, is that really very exciting for a Doctor Who episode? Because what would the monster be? And yeah, when you can go and do stuff like pirates… Maybe something like Victorian times? That’s been done before, hasn’t it?”

SFX: Is there anything that you’re really into where you think ‘I’d love to do that in Doctor Who’?

“I’m really into The Addams Family – can we go there? And also I’m a really big fan of Little Shop Of Horrors, so maybe there could be some sort of killer plant?”

SFX: Or a musical episode?

“A musical episode with a killer plant! Yeah, done!”

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