I am so glad Nebula, played by Karen Gillan, is back for more in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. We sat down with her in between filming, and if you’ve been following along with all the interviews and on-set visits, you know these chats take place in a small room with a small desk and ten folding chairs.
When Karen walked in, fully dressed for filming, makeup and all, we were in awe. We are all huge Marvel fans and seeing Nebula straight from filming, dirt and all, was fantastic.
Q: You look like you’ve been through something this morning.
Karen: Oh, the dirt? There’s a lot of that happening on this film actually. Yeah, she gets up to a lot of stuff in dirt and claiming things within Gamora.
Q: How has that relationship been changed?
Karen: I think we’re just going to really delve much further into it and were really going to learn about their back story, as well, which is really exciting for me as an actress to kind of explore. We’re going to learn that they have very severe daddy issues. When Thanos is your father, of course, you’re going to have those. And yeah, they’re going to sort of really talk to each other. Usually, they communicate quite physically. Like it’s sort of you, know, sisters pull each other’s hair. These, they sort of try to kill each other. But they’re sort of going to talk about it and that’s really interesting I think.
I thought it was very interesting that Karen is so very different from her on-screen sister, Zoe Saldana. Karen is very soft-spoken, almost shy. Zoe is the furthest you can get from shy and is very out-spoken. I absolutely adored both, and both are total badasses on screen.
Q: We asked that question we’ve asked everyone. What was it like to be back?
Karen: It’s so nice to be back. It really — I mean, I feel like it, it’s such a line to say like we’re like one big happy family. But we genuinely are. Yeah, it’s great. Everyone’s really nice and it’s just so much fun to be on this set and they play music and it just really sort of joyous experience.
Q: How is the costume? Is it comfortable?
Karen: Elements are comfortable. [LAUGHING] I’m thinking…not like what I would choose to wear lounging around the house. I mean this is not very comfortable but it looks so cool so it’s worth it. Yes, Nebula has a bit of a different look going on in this film so she gets a costume change which is very exciting. I do love the purple though, the original.
Q: How long does it take you to get ready for filming?
Karen: Okay, soI have been able to keep half of my hair for this film, which is very exciting. So that added an hour of just wrapping all the hair up in a bald cap. And then it takes about 2 1/2 hours to put the makeup on, which is actually quicker than the last film. The last film was maybe around five hours for the full process. It’s significantly less. I don’t know how that happened. And then to get into this is about 20 minutes. So I mean it’s quite a long process but it’s just so worth it. Sort of does half of the job for you as an actor because you look like this.
Watch the trailer that aired just before the big game!
Q: Nebula has a very physical role. What do you do to prepare for that as far as your workouts?
Karen: Well, I work out with the Marvel stunt team and that is so ridiculous. Oh my God, like I come out and I like to take a nap. It is like with all the stunt guys and they’re like jacked. So yeah, I do that as much as I can. And then whenever there’s like a fight sequence or something, Kelly, Nebula’s stunt double does it too, and she makes me look good because I look like spaghetti. I used to watch the Avengers to get me into the spirit.
Q: When you got the script for Vol 2 and saw all your character was going to be going through, what was your first reaction?
Karen: I e-mailed James the director and just wrote ‘oh, my God, I can’t believe I get to do all this stuff.’ Because when I went on to the first film it was originally an eight-day shoot. And I felt that was the end of my character, as well. So when I found out I was coming back for the next film up I was like what? And it was really cool because in the first film they just kept on rewriting my ending. And I was just like okay, which one is going to be used? And then he gave her a really sort of cool badass ending. And it was open as well, which was very exciting. Yeah, I didn’t think I could look that tough. So it was cool.
And then when I found out I was coming back for the next one it was just amazing. And he’s given her all this back story and we understand why she is so bad and she has motivations and it’s just sort of really fleshed out which makes me really happy.
Q: Are we going to see a softer side of Nebula?
Karen: Yes, I think so. I think we’re going to understand her more. We’re going to have a bit of empathy towards her. As to whether that makes her soft I don’t know because she’s you know, she’s still classic pissed off Nebula. But we’re just going to understand why she does the things she does and understand her relationship with Gamora in much more detail, and maybe understand that Gamora wasn’t as nice as she makes out towards Nebula in their childhood.
Q: We wondered how Karen gets to that ‘place’ where she can be pissed-off Nebula. She is so lovely and nice and has a soft Scottish accent.
Karen: Obviously, makeup does half of it for me. James, the director, his favorite thing is when I’m acting and then like I break character for some reason and it’s just like ‘what the hell?’ It’s cool though because I’m getting to play something that’s just completely removed from myself and getting to explore different sides of that. When you’re acting is quite nice. And I get good American accent, which is fun.
Q: We asked what attracted her to the role.
Karen: It’s interesting. When you audition for a Marvel film you don’t really know that much about it. All I knew is that it was a female villain and that was enough to attract me to it because, you know, with these big films quite often a girl is the girlfriend or some sort of glamorous role. But this was totally different. And I was like ‘Wow, that’s really cool.’ My dad always told me to aim to be a Bond villain rather than a Bond girl. So that was kind of like a cool moment for me. I auditioned it felt like it was going to be a fleshed out interesting character with places to go. And she was just creepy, which is fun.
Q: Have you read any of the comics?
Karen: I read the Infinity Gauntlet, which I hear is going to be in the next Avengers. I read that and I was like this character is really cool. It was the best one for me to read for Nebula research. And it was great. It’s so good.
Q: Can you tell us about Nebula’s new hand?
Karen: Ooh, the mystery of the hand. I don’t want to give away anything but, is the hand really a spoiler? So she’s definitely got something in place of the hand that she chopped off, not necessarily a hand. So she goes on a mission to rectify this. So it’s a whole thing. She’s on the hunt to replace whatever is there. And then she does replace it with something really, really cool.
Q: Is that why your left hand is not painted because it’s not seen?
Karen: Exactly, yeah.
Q: Besides your character, which is your favorite Guardians of the Galaxy character?
Karen: Oh, good question. The new character Mantis is pretty great and the actress who plays her is brilliant. I couldn’t imagine anybody else playing the role. But I’m going to say that my favorite is actually Drax. I think he’s the funniest person I’ve ever met on and off screen. Like he can make anything funny and he doesn’t try to and that’s why it’s so funny. His dry delivery, just how huge he is with that dry delivery is such a funny combination to me. Like everybody dies whenever he’s acting. Like everybody’s just dying. [LAUGHTER]
Somehow I knew that was the case with Drax! He was such a blast to interview. Karen took a minute for a group photo before heading back to the set.
What would you say if I told you there was a contest you could enter to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 before your friends and attend the red carpet premiere? It’s true, it’s easy, and it will make you feel SO good! I’ll let Chris and James tell you about it.
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2 is in theaters May 5, 2017!
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*Because this was a secret set visit, we had a very limited number of photos. Many thanks to Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney for the photos from San Diego Comic-Con Marvel Panel.
Disney invited me on an all expense paid trip to see the filming, go behind the scenes, and interview the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. All thoughts are my own. Obviously.