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At the age of 35, Karen Gillan is perhaps most synonymous with her character Nebula from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Yet to limit her career to this one role would be doing injustice to an artist who has also accomplished so much else.


Gillan began her acting career in her home country of Scotland, appearing in various stage productions and small TV roles. She landed her first major role in the British science fiction series Doctor Who in 2010, playing the companion of the eleventh Doctor, as portrayed by Matt Smith.

Her depiction of Amy Pond earned her critical acclaim and a dedicated fanbase.

After her successful run on Doctor Who, Gillan made the transition to Hollywood, where she quickly established herself as a talented and versatile actress. It was in 2014 when she made her debut in the MCU film Guardians of the Galaxy. She has since gone on to reprise her role in several more movies within the franchise, including Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

RELATED: Karen Gillan’s Latest Instagram Story Hints Towards Her Participation In New ‘Thor’ Movie

Gillan also featured as Ruby Roundhouse in the Jumanji universe, although her work in the first film caused her to suffer from major anxiety.


Karen Gillan Is Famous For Playing Nebula In The Marvel Cinematic Universe

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Karen Gillan might not immediately be recognizable as Nebula from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, thanks to the fact that she has to undergo a complete transformation to take the appearance of the otherworldly character. Nonetheless, Nebula is as important to the stories in the universe as she has become to the actress’ career.

The character is described as “a fierce and complex villain who is also the adopted sister of Gamora, played by Zoe Saldana.” Nebula is a cybernetically enhanced warrior and a skilled assassin who is heavily scarred from years of abuse and torture by her father, the ultimate villain, Thanos. Gillan’s portrayal of Nebula’s emotional trauma and her desire for redemption is a powerful aspect of the character.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 depicted more of Nebula’s backstory and how she was groomed by Thanos to be a weapon. In Avengers: Infinity War, she transformed into a conflicted character who is torn between her desire for revenge and her longing for family. Her character arc resolves when she joins forces with the good guys in Avengers: End Game.

Karen Gillan Enjoyed Her Fight Scenes With Zoe Saldana In Guardians Of The Galaxy

In the first Guardians of the Galaxy film of 2014, a central conflict in the story is between the sisters Gamora and Nebula. Zoe Saldana’s Gamora is depicted as the “favored” daughter of Thanos, and trained to be a skilled assassin. Nebula, on the other hand, was cybernetically enhanced and forced to compete with her sister in battles.

As a result, Nebula harbors a deep resentment and anger towards Gamora, and the two engage in several fight scenes throughout the film. Following the release of the movie, Karen Gillan sat down for an interview with On Demand Entertainment. Here, she explained her preference for being in fight scenes alongside Saldana, as opposed to the male actors in the production.

RELATED: Ranking The Guardians Of The Galaxy Cast By Net Worth

“It was [more] fun to do the girl fight, because I feel like we don’t see a lot of those in those films,” Gillan said. “And [also because] Zoey is an amazing fighter… better than most of the boys.”

Despite their initial hostility towards each other, the sisters ultimately team up with the Guardians to defeat Thanos and his minions.

How Did Karen Gillan Prepare For Her Role As Nebula?

Karen Gillan Guardians of the Galaxy
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The process of becoming Nebula was a grueling one for Karen Gillan, who had to do a lot of preparation work before production kicked off. This journey involved a drastic change in diet, an intense workout routine and she even had to shave her hair to acquire the smooth-head look that the character brings to the screen.

As she came to reveal in the conversation with On Demand Entertainment, this was the most challenging aspect of taking on the role.

“It was probably the physical nature of the role [that I found most challenging],” she said. “I had an epic fight sequence with Zoe Saldana who is a master of the physical, so I had to really prepare and train for that and work out four times a week.”

Marvel films and performers have not had much luck with major awards over the years, but Gillan’s star turn as Nebula has in fact earned her a number of accolades. Most notably was a Saturn Award nomination in 2019 in the category “Best Supporting Actress,” following her work in Avengers: End Game.

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