Saturday 17th March 2018

Karen Gillan on her action hero status, flirting and the misogyny of female movie characters – Metro

Karen Gillan could be one of the most badass women in Hollywood right now.

The Scottish actress has gone from playing beloved companion Amy Pond in Doctor Who, to the sadisitic Nebula in Guardians Of The Galaxy, and now she’s playing the ass-kicking femme fatale Ruby Roundhouse in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle.

But becoming a bonafide action hero was never in Karen’s plans.

Speaking to, the 30-year-old said: ‘It’s not something I set out to be, I didn’t expect that. I don’t know how that really happened. Maybe because I’m tall?

’It’s not something I actively set out to do, I just set out to hopefully get to act in some stuff. I didn’t anticipate that I would do so much action. But I am loving it.’

Karen Gillan on her action hero status, flirting and the misogyny of female characters
Karen is fast becoming Hollywood’s go-to female action hero (Picture: Samir Hussein/WireImage)

In the sequel to the much-loved Robin Williams adventure film Jumanji, Karen plays Ruby Roundhouse, the ‘killer of men’ avatar chosen by awkward teenager Martha before she gets sucked into the Jumanji video game (yep, it’s not a board game anymore).

So Karen wasn’t only playing a Lara Croft-esque video game hero with skills in karate – she was also playing a 16-year-old girl with low self-esteem and a crush on her classmate.

Karen said: ‘That’s what attracted me to the role actually. Because you’re just in danger of having a real female stereotype in action films, the Ruby Roundhouse, who is just this strong, sexy girl who can kick everyone’s ass. Actually, I’m a bit bored of that now. Let’s have a girl who falls over her own feet while trying to be that. That’s another layer I can play with. Also, I just connect more with the awkward 16-year-old girl than I do with the killer of men.’

One of the most awkward moments comes when Martha/Ruby learns how to flirt to disarm some enemies – with Instagram-pro Bethany teaching her flirting techniques while in the body of Jack Black.

Karen said: ‘I am still not good at [flirting]. I need at least two drinks in to even think about doing that. I think that was probably accurate, I was terrible at that.

Karen Gillan
Karen admits that she’s as awkward as Martha (Picture: Andrew Toth/Getty Images for Self-Portrait )

‘I think it’s alarmingly accurate how Jack Black describes how girls actually flirt. With the playing of the hair and telling men they’re really funny.’

There was much trepidation surrounding the Jumanji sequel, also starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Nick Jonas – particularly as the intention to make the film was announced soon after Robin Williams’ tragic passing.

And Karen initially had the same unease about the project. The actress told us: ‘I think I had the same reaction as everyone else when I heard they were making another Jumanji, because I was such fan of the original. I had such a sense of ownership over this thing.

‘And then I read the script and I knew they’re definitely not ignoring the legacy, and there’s enough of an homage that I’m satisfied as a fan, but it was a film in its own right with a new concept that had been evolved, and it’s just legitimately funny. I love a good body swap.’

Jumanji 2 Welcome to the Jungle
Ruby’s skimpy costume sparked controversy before the film’s release (Picture: IMDb)

However, the controversy didn’t stop there. When the promotional material was released, showing Karen’s character dressed in tiny shorts and a crop top alongside her male co-stars, people were pretty furious. The film does poke fun at the outfit as soon as it’s revealed, though – and Karen thinks it was a good thing that people got angry.

She said: ‘I read the script and she’s literally described in the stage directions as a 90s video game typical female character, aka Lara Croft, so I had a visual of that. That was what the costume was based on.

‘It was important to me that there’s bits in the film where she takes the jacket from Jack Black’s character and uses it in different ways. I came up with when she takes it back off, because I wanted her to have it on for a significant amount of time, so I had a little bit of a say there.

‘Everybody’s reaction to that photo, there was a bit of controversy. But to be fair, it’s really quite a good thing because it’s highlighting a very real issue which we’re making fun of in the film, which is, of course the female isn’t wearing very much. So if we sparked any sort of debate around that, it’s sort of a good thing.’

Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is in cinemas on 20 December.

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MORE: Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle lovingly lampoons video game tropes – but is far from a classic

MORE: Kevin Hart threatens to pee on Dwayne Johnson’s Hollywood Walk of Fame star

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