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Nerdist Talks to Karen Gillan About OCULUS

Since you find yourself here on Nerdist.com, I am going to assume that the lovely Karen Gillan needs no introduction. But, just in case you need a refresher, she’s the actress best known for her role as companion Amy Pond on Doctor Who and can be seen this summer in Guardians of the Galaxy. Her latest film is Oculus (you can read our review here), co-written and directed by Mike Flanagan, and starring Katee Sackhoff, Brenton Thwaites, and Rory Cochrane. Nerdist sat down with Gillan to talk about working in genre, horror movies, and what makes Oculus something special.

Before Gillan had gotten the part of Kaylie Russell in the latest Blumhouse release, she was, admittedly, a little nervous about meeting with director Mike Flanagan. However, fans may be excited to know that her affiliation with a certain Doctor may have helped her get her role. Gillan explained, “I get the script sent to me in an e-mail. Then I get a call saying the director wants to meet you on Skype. I was in Scotland in my childhood bedroom. My mum is like, ‘An American director – this is so exciting!’ And then we were talking and I was trying to impress him, and then he takes a sip of his coffee or whatever it is, and the mug is a TARDIS. And he did not realize, because he drinks out of it every day. I was like, ‘Yeah! I’ve got it!'”

As an actress, was it hard for her to embrace the idea that her character is being terrorized by, well, a mirror? “It’s actually probably weird if you haven’t worked on a TV show where you have to be scared of tennis balls for CGI. I feel like I’ve mastered the art of being scared of inanimate objects, which is quite a weird thing, actually.”

An admitted fan of horror movies, how was it for Gillan to finally get to be in one? Did it present any new acting challenges? Said Gillan, “I got the best of both worlds with this film because we get to make a genre horror film that has all the scares that everybody wants, but at the same time, it was a real character. It was just me and my brother in a room for most of the film, or of what we shot, anyway. So it just felt like a real stretching acting experience, and that’s what I loved about it. It was great!”

On her approach to the character, Gillan added, “When we normally see a girl get freaked out and scared, she would get more and more excited, and this was a cool new angle to approach this. It’s like we’re seeing the sequence where we watch a video, and we’re seeing that the mirror had tricked them, and they’re actually putting their cameras together, and instead of being really freaked out about that, she’s smiling and happy. Like, ‘This is verifying everything I’ve been saying!’ So it was just like a totally opposing angle.”

Oculus, starring Karen Gillan, Katee Sackhoff,  Brenton Thwaites and Rory Cochrane, and directed by Mike Flanagan is in theaters now. For more from about the film check out Nerdist News’ interviews with the cast and director.

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