In Karen Gillan’s latest film, DoubleThe Marvel star plays two versions of the same character, both seek to kill each other. On paper, it may seem like a new, unique challenge. Only … Gillan has done it before. A few times actually. One was even in the second highest grossing film in history, Avengers: Endgame. As a result, much like being thrown on Doctor Who earlier in her career, she somehow keeps on taking on projects that only make her next movie or show so much better.
“I think when I made Double, I thought, ‘How many times have I done it now?’ “Gillan told io9 over video chat this week.” I mean, this must be the fourth time I’m playing against myself. I thought, ‘This is the strangest typecasting I’ve ever heard in my life.’ But I actually think, through working on the other projects and beyond AvengersI kind of figured out how I like to do it. “
IN Double, Gillan is Sarah, a young woman diagnosed with a terminal illness. As a result, she decides to make a clone of herself so her friends and family do not know she is gone. But Sarah recovers miraculously, and now, with two Sarahs running around, the rules of society dictate that there can only be one. They have to duel to the death. It is written and directed by Riley Stearns, who has previously made The art of self-defense and Error.
Gillan addressed both Sarah and Sarah’s clone as separate characters and wrote detailed lists of traits that each one incorporates based on Stearns’ script. But playing both lead roles led to a lot more work than usual. She had to perform on both sides, remember the lines for both sides, and, almost most decisively, react credibly to that performance – with the help of actress Katariina Havukainen, who played opposite Gillan on the set.
“I like to make sure I have an actress I can do this with because it’s definitely a team effort,” Gillan said. “So it was really important for me, and I got to help choose the actress that I was going to perform opposite. Double, which made me really happy. And [Havukainen] is an amazing actress because I knew I would be able to react to anything. I would not just completely imagine what I would do with it in the future when I film the other side. I wanted it to feel more genuine than that. And she gave me a lot to work with, so I was really happy about that. ”
Gillan admits, however, that at times it was hard to keep all that in mind at once. “It was challenging because it’s a bit much to take on,” she said. “There’s a certain element of like, I would play opposite this amazing actress, and I would kind of see how she does that. And I think, ‘I like that. I have to steal that.’ And then I think, ‘Oh, I’m not going to do the line like that.’ “So let’s react appropriately to the way I envision doing it in the future when I get to it. So it’s a lot of multi-tasking.”
A bit of multitasking that Gillan did not necessarily think about was Sarah’s physical character. Once the duel between Sarahs is set, the film follows the first through her training, which happens to a man named Trent (Breaking Badis Aaron Paul). The problem is that Gillan is used to playing a superhero and Sarah has never trained a day in her life. She basically had to learn to be Karen Gillan.
“I’ve been playing really physically capable characters for years now,” she said. “So I’ve perfected the art of running as an action hero. All that. And I had to regret everything for this character because she’s training for the first time in her life. So I remember I got on the treadmill, and I ran like an action hero and I thought, ‘I have to feel much worse.’ “Then my arms started fluttering. I looked a little more confused.”
Playing two Sarahs in Double after two mists in Avengers: Endgame is not the first time in her career, a major role prepared her for the next. On the question of impact Doctor Who had on his career, Gillan tells of the surprising connection between that role and her neighbor. “[Doctor Who] was one of the most important things that happened for my career, still, ”she said. “It was the first big thing I’ve ever had. It was a great role and a great TV show that I loved so much. And also, I had a lot of sci-fi training.”
That sci-fi education helped her adjust to her next big role, in a movie called Guardians of the Galaxy. “I was extremely nervous to start Guardians of the Galaxy because it was like a big American movie and I had been making British TV until that time, ”she said. “So I thought, ‘How is this going to be? Is it going to be all the Hollywood stuff I had imagined?’ And then I actually got there, and I was on a spaceship, and I thought, ‘Oh. Wait a minute. This is my environment.’ I can show you a thing or two since I’ve spent the last three years on spaceships. “
Double Gillan does not look at any spaceships, but she believes it has helped what has already been a dynamic, surprising career become even better. “[Working on Dual] really expanded me as an actor, ”she said. “Just to even figure out how to deliver that writing style in that delivery style. It was just so unique and I loved it. It was so cool. I think [Stearns] really helped me develop as an actor, and I also think I got more fun from the movie because he really taught me how not to play the fun, and in turn makes it a lot more fun. “
Which, it turns out, might even affect her next time play her Guardians of the Galaxy Grade, Nebula. “We’ll definitely be seeing a new version of the character [in future movies], teased Gillan. “Maybe a looser version of the character, maybe a little more frivolous.” Lifetime she has certainly honed Double.
Double is in theaters Friday.
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