One of the most exciting things about the new Doctor Who season has been Karen Gillan, who brings a bubbly cynicism to the role of companion Amy Pond. We asked her about abandonment issues, and whether Amy's headed for superhero-dom.
We were lucky to talk to Gillan on the phone a couple weeks back. This interview has spoilers for "The Eleventh Hour" and "The Beast Below," and minor spoilers for some upcoming episodes.
When we first meet Amy she's a little girl. But the grown-up Amy also ages two years in "The Eleventh Hour" and we hear you'll be playing a version of Amy who's another five years older as well. What's it like playing the same character at different ages?
It's interesting, because we meet her at different points of her life. When we first meet her, obviously, I'm not playing that Amy. But what we see is a kind of accepting little girl, who says, "Okay, right, you're a time traveler, okay." And then we meet her when she's older, for various reasons, she's very cynical and skeptical. So we see different aspects of her and how the Doctor has affected her.
After the Doctor keeps disappearing on Amy, does she finally learn to trust him again?
I think she wants to, with all her might — she's trying to — but something's telling her, "Don't."
So it's more of a thorny relationship.
Yeah. It's not an easy ride at all for the Doctor, because Amy is not a happy lady at all, when we meet her in the first episode as a grown-up. She's very distrusting of him, but also she's kind of mad like him as well. So they kind of make a really strange team.
So the Doctor's shaped Amy's whole life. Is he sort of a mythic figure to her?
Yeah. He almost becomes like this myth, and I think that it really affects her, that it was only her that saw this man. And she knows it's real, but nobody else believes it, and I think that that can be quite psychologically damaging. She's quite complex in that way, and she finds it hard to accept that he's real, I think.
So the companion is sort of the proxy for the audience, traditionally. Do you find it difficult having to be millions of people, all at once?
That's quite a daunting way of seeing it. Yeah, she is the kind of the eyes of the show, we see it through her point of view because she's a human and we can relate to her. [But] that's a really small aspect of her, to be honest. I think the series is kind of her story in a way, and so much stuff happens to her. And how she's affected by the Doctor, a time traveler, being in her life, is kind of the most interesting thing about her. So it's kind of a massive journey for her.
So you meet River Song. Are you going to be rivals?
I don't want to spoil anything, because it's a brilliant two parter, when she comes back, and the Weeping Angels are in that episode as well. But I would say that Amy is... I think from what we learn in the first episode, she doesn't like to be possessed by anyone — maybe not Rory for instance, so I don't think she would ever project that onto anyone else, like the Doctor for instance. So I don't think she would be jealous of River Song's relationship with the Doctor.
So Amy comes from this fictional town, Leadworth, it's very deliberately not a real place. Is it meant to be a fairytale village? Did you think about what it would be like to live there?
I'm not sure exactly why Leadworth. But I think Steven [Moffat] wanted something quintessentially English. We were very used to London, in the previous Doctor Who. So something else that's quintessentially English is a little village. And it's quite refreshing. Also, the whole feel of this series is really fairytale, so it just seems a perfect fit, really, to have this cute little English village.
So is there much call for a kiss-o-gram in a small English village like that? How much work would you actually get?
Well, I mean she seems to be a working lady. [Laughs] So, a surprising amount in Leadworth, perhaps. I think what's interesting about Leadworth and being quintessentially English is, she's this Scottish girl, so she's an alien like the Doctor.
What do you think about people who complain that Amy is too sexy?
I don't know. There's been a long line of companions who have been considered sexy, and I don't think it's anything new. As for the length of her "policewoman" skirt and everything, it's just part of the plot. And also, I can walk down the street and see people wearing stuff more revealing than that. So I don't really see the big deal.
It seems like a some of the previous companions, like Donna or Rose, have gone on to become super-powerful. Almost like superheroes, and this is their origin story. Do you see that happening with Amy?
Ooh, I don't know. I think that she definitely changes a lot, a lot, a lot, over the course of this series. I don't know. It would be quite fun, wouldn't it? But I mean, I like her. I like the relationship between the Doctor and Amy, and it always scares to think that it might finish. And that's what always seems to happen when they become superheroes. Suddenly their memory gets wiped or something. [Laughs]
That was very unfair, what happened to Donna.
Oh, absolute tragedy. [Laughs]
So do you hope to return for another season?
I would... I certainly wouldn't say no.
Can you talk a little bit about the humor? How do you bring out the humor in these bizarre situations, without turning it into a send-up? Because the great humor has been one of the really striking things about the new season.
I think they're funny as a team anyway, and them just trying to deal with these situations that they're in, and I just find that funny in itself. And also, Steven Moffat is a very funny writer, and he's written many great comedy shows before this, so there's loads of witty things in there. But the most important thing for is not to try and make it funny, because then it could become a bit slapstick. So I think actually playing the truth of the situation, which is completely mental and bizarre is, in itself, quite funny.
So in "The Beast Below," Amy chooses to forget, and the Doctor's quite angry with her. And they have their first falling out. It seems like the Doctor's holding all the cards, in a way. He can send her home, he can cut her off. Is that pretty much the power dynamic we get the whole time?
I don't think so. I think it's up and down. I think a roller-coaster of a relationship, and status wise, it's sort of changing all the time, which I think you'll see throughout the course of the series. But it's interesting to see their first bit of conflict and being faced with a situation where he actually may take me home.
Do we see more of why Amy is in love with her fiance Rory at some point? It seems like the main emotions we've seen so far are trepidation, and not being sure whether she wants to go through with the wedding.
I think that she's in a strange place. She cares about him, but she needs to do a lot more stuff in her life, before she settles down in Leadworth. I don't want to give anything away, because it's all spoilers. I think they've got an interesting relationship. Amy, she's kind of... I think there is a love there, but it's well hidden.
Is Amy somebody who has a hard time forming attachments to people?
She has a distrust of everyone. She's really cynical and skeptical, and I mean, even when we meet her she's sort of abandoned already. She's this lost soul, actually.
[Spoiler alert — this next question is a bit more spoilery.]
The Radio Times mentioned, in its episode listings, that Amy's going to be pregnant in an upcoming episode. What was that like?
That comes a bit later in the series. But I have to say, I had the most fun. It was brilliant, and it's funny how something like that can affect you. It's interesting.