Traveller’s tales: Karen Gillan
The Inverness-born Thor: Love and Thunder actress talks LA versus New York, lethal Brazilian cocktails and travelling the Marvel Universe in style
Where are you right now?
I’m in New York because I’m doing a small indie film called Late Bloomers, which I’m really excited about. It’s definitely going to be a change from doing Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, which I just spent six months in Atlanta for – a lot quicker!
What’s your favourite travel experience through work?
The fun thing about franchise films is that you do a press tour around the world, so even though they’re fleeting visits, you get to see a lot of different places. Going to Japan for the Jumanji press tour was pretty exciting. We went to China and all over Europe, too. I’m definitely better at scheduling time on those trips now to see things I want to see. The first time I went to Japan, I didn’t have any sushi outside of the hotel, and I thought, “I’m doing this wrong.” Now I ask for recommendations and experience the real culture.
Where are you based these days?
I float around. but I probably live between New York and Los Angeles. Los Angeles isn’t my favourite city. Some people absolutely love the lifestyle there but I’m ginger, stay out of the sun, and I’m not a huge outdoorsy person. I like a city because I’m from Inverness – which is a city but it’s tiny so it’s more like a town – and I enjoy having a different experience from that in New York. There’s also something nice about being in New York and knowing that I’m halfway home to Scotland. I love how much more relaxed I am when I’m in Inverness. I was there recently and it felt like one massive exhale.
What’s been your most memorable hotel stay?
I like things that are slightly creepy and old. I really want to stay in the Witchery in Edinburgh. That’s what my house would look like if I had time to do it up. I had a memorable experience in Singapore at the St Regis. I brought my family from Scotland with me, and no one could believe that we had our own butler. My mum was just ordering stuff, thinking it was brilliant.
Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Love and Thunder
Karen Gillan with Matt Baker in Doctor Who
Karen Gillan as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy
Sam (Karen Gillan) in discussion with Nathan (Paul Giamatti) in Gunpowder Milkshake
Rumbling in the jungle with the Jumanji crew
Where and when was your first trip abroad?
I remember being driven in a Sherpa van through Holland and to Germany when I was about seven. My dad and mum used to volunteer at a Saturday club for people with learning disabilities and we would go on holidays with the club, staying in the most random places. In Germany we stayed in an army camp. I wasn’t that well-travelled as a child, but I did go to America when I was 13, which was the craziest, most fun holiday because we went to Las Vegas – yes, perfect for a 13-year-old!
Do you like a beach holiday?
I only went into the ocean in Malibu for the first time two years ago. As a kid I paddled around the shallow bit of the sea, but I’ve never really been in waves before, so I was walking in going, “Are you sure this is going to be OK?” while everyone else was diving in. But it was lovely to be in the water and get a bit of sun and vitamin D. I’m not that attractive on the beach because I’m so pale I’m probably reflecting all of the sunlight back into peoples’ eyes.
Where have you been in the last few months?
I was filming Guardians in Atlanta and I was on planes back and forth to New York and Los Angeles. I also went on a film promotion trip to Brazil and drank lots of Caipirinhas, which are lethal. I took my friend from Inverness with me, so it was girls’ night out time. We went to a samba bar, and I remember getting there and thinking, “I can do that”. I went for it like you’ve never seen and then saw a video of myself and was like, “No, never do that again”.
Where did you hang out in Atlanta?
It has great restaurants and great food. I recommend a fun pub called The Ladybird, a seafood place called The Optimist and really good sushi at MF Sushi. The sushi in Los Angeles is the best I’ve experienced outside Japan, and I thought MF Sushi was LA level good. The cast was quite spread out in terms of where we stayed. Those with families were more in the countryside near the studio, and then there was me and Pom Klementieff, who plays Mantis in the Marvel movies, hitting the city.
Thor: Love and Thunder is in cinemas on 7 July
As told to: Helen Whitaker
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