THE last time we spoke, Karen Gillan had just landed the role of Amy Pond in Doctor Who... and she had a flaming mane of striking red hair. Three years later, her time on board the TARDIS is past... and she is bald. Completely bald.
The extreme makeover accompanies her forthcoming role as the shaven-headed Nebula, in superhero movie Guardians Of The Galaxy. However, we’ll have to wait until 2014 to hear more about that.
One film that Gillan is more than keen to talk about today is Not Another Happy Ending, the romcom that gives the Scot her first starring role on the silver screen.
It tells the story of Tom Duvall, the editor of a struggling publishing company. When he discovers his only successful author, Jane Lockhart (Gillan), suffers from writer’s block whenever she is happy, he sets out to make her life as miserable as possible. A rouse that quickly backfires on him.
“I had the most wonderful experience making this film and just love the character,” says the bubbly star. “We shot it over three weeks and it was so nice to film it in the motherland.”
Not Another Happy Ending brought the curtain down on this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, at which the 25-year-old walked down her first red carpet.
It was a moment no doubt made all the more significant as Gillan did her initial training to be an actor at Telford College, a period she has since described as “such an important year.”
“That was my first red carpet adventure for a film of my own, and it was so exciting,” she recalls.
“We worked so hard to make that film, so for it to get to close the Film Festival was a dream come true. It really was. People turned up and seemed to enjoy it - they were laughing as they watched it. So we all drank some Champagne and celebrated into the night.
“It was lovely.”
With a laugh she adds, “You know, if somebody had told me when I was at Telford that was going to happen, I would have run away thinking they were crazy.”
For millions the world over, however, Gillan will forever be Amy Pond, the girl who waited for the Doctor, and she reveals that filming Not Another Happy Ending had to be delayed to allow her to fulfil her commitment to the BBC.
“Not Another Happy Ending had been on the cards for quite some time, but it had to be delayed because Doctor Who went on longer than we expected,” she says.
“The decision to leave Doctor Who initially came from me. I spoke to the show-runner Stephen Moffat and told him that I was thinking about leaving. He said, ‘Well I want to do this, this and this with the character, so could you leave at this point?’
“I said, ‘Absolutely.’
“So it was lovely. I didn’t have to go through that horrible thing of being told that I was leaving and, equally, I didn’t leave against his will. It was a total collaboration.”
When she did finally bow out of the long-running series, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Gillan took the move from small screen to cinema in her stride.
“For me it was kind of doing exactly the same job,” she confesses. “I didn’t really see any difference whatsoever. I was aware it was going to be shown on a bigger screen, but that was it.”
Despite being a TV show, her time on Doctor Who had left her no stranger to seeing herself on ‘bigger’ screens.
“We did so many screening events up and down the country that you got used to it, although it’s still always a bit cringey to see your face that size.”
Unlike other Doctor Who girls, Gillan admits she wasn’t too concerned about being typecast.
“It’s all down to your own choices. You don’t have to get typecast. You don’t have to go for similar roles to the ones you have done before, although you don’t always have a choice in the matter,” she considers.
“I don’t believe in working for the sake of it. What interests me about acting is portraying different things, being versatile.
“What was so good about Not Another Happy Ending being the first job I did after Doctor Who, was that it wasn’t sci-fi, it was a romantic comedy.
“That is definitely a world I’d like to get into, so already I feel like I’ve done a variety of things and I am really grateful for that.”
Her dream, she reveals, is to work with the acclaimed Austrian director Michael Haneke.
“He is my favourite director, I love his films so much. I have almost completed watching his life’s work and I think he is a genius.
“The Piano Teacher is my favourite film; to play a role like that would be my absolute dream come true... actually, just to meet him would be a dream.”
Right now, though, the actress is focused on another, more pressing challenge.
“I just wrapped on Guardians Of The Galaxy four days ago, so the first thing in the pipeline for me is to grow some hair.”
Not Another Happy Ending opens at Cineworld, Fountainbridge tomorrow