Karen Gillan, Who Plays ‘Guardians’ Assassin Nebula, Was Defeated by Killer Heels

Donna Freydkin
Karen Gillan (Photo: Getty Images)

Even Nebula, the indomitable cyborg assassin in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, is powerless against a pair of brutal high heels.

When Karen Gillan, who plays Nebula, donned a Self-Portrait frock for the April premiere of the film in London, she announced on Instagram that right after completing her promotional duties, she kicked off the footwear.


“Oh, they came right off,” Gillan tells Yahoo Style. “I have never experienced that kind of sensation. I physically could not walk. I’m actually really good with heels. I had to get up onstage to present the film, and I didn’t know if I would make it. I do enjoy dressing up and wearing heels.”

She also loves showcasing her tough side as Nebula, daughter of supervillain Thanos and sister of Gamora (Zoe Saldana), with whom she has a deeply contentious relationship. This time around, she didn’t have to shave her head for the role, but she says getting into character required dedication.

“It took about four hours every morning. They would wrap my hair under a bald cap. They would stick prosthetics on. It would take three people to get me into my costume, starting at 3 a.m.,” she says.

The attire was so intricate that Gillan, like many actors playing superheroes who wind up basically glued into their costumes, had to compromise on certain bodily functions.

“Honestly, I stopped drinking water during filming,” Gillan says. “Going to the bathroom required me and another person. The costumes are complicated, but so worth it. I move differently in it, because of the way it makes me feel. I feel like an assassin.”

Karen Gillan in Monse. (Photo: Getty Images)

And yes, you’ll be seeing her in the next installment of the Avengers, along with her fellow space cowboy Guardians. “I’m not allowed to say anything because Marvel will cut out my tongue. But I’m in it as Nebula and I have some really cool stuff to do,” she says, of the upcoming Infinity Wars double feature.

Not revealing spoilers is second nature to Gillan. While playing Amy Pond on the BBC series Doctor Who, Gillan was trained “in the art of answering questions without saying anything. It’s become the norm for me.”

Karen Gillan in Self-Portrait and those heels. (Photo: Getty Images)

She’s also in the upcoming Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, playing Ruby Roundhouse opposite Kevin Hart and Dwayne Johnson. The film got flak for her character’s skimpy attire, when photos from it were released. And yes, Gillan totally understands the response.

“I can see why people would have that reaction. I had more context so I didn’t think it would be quite so severe,” says Gillan. “My character in the movie is having the same reaction as everyone else to the costume.”

While promoting Guardians, Gillan has been killing it on the fashion front, most notably in a Monse number she wore to the film’s L.A. premiere. She works with top stylist Karla Welch.

“I really like things that are slightly edgy, but I don’t want to look too crazy,” says Gillan of her style. “Slight quirks and cool?”

As for her signature ginger locks, Gillan says she’s never considered changing her hue. Nor was she ever pressured by anyone to do so, unlike, say, Jessica Chastain — who was once told to color her hair blond to get acting work.

“I’ve never dyed my hair. I’ve always been a redhead or bald,” says Gillan, referring to her shorn head in the first Guardians movie. “Being a redhead is better, I would say.”

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