Karen Gillan on Playing a Clone of Herself in Dual

Written and directed by Riley Stearns, the science fiction film Double it’s in theaters today. The film stars Karen Gillan, Aaron Paul, and Beulah Koale.

RELATED: Dual Interview: Aaron Paul Discusses a Dark Sci-Fi Movie, Working with Karen Gillan

“Upon receiving a terminal diagnosis, Sarah opts for a cloning procedure to ease the loss of her friends and family,” the synopsis reads. “When she suddenly and miraculously recovers, her attempts to have her clone dismantled fail and lead to a court-ordered duel to the death. She now has a year to train her body and mind for the fight of her life.”

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Double star Karen Gillan on playing two versions of herself, her love for Nebula, and much more.

Tyler Treese: I love the movie. He was so impressed by the dark sense of humor. There were so many little lines and little details that made me laugh, like your character’s porn of choice being the very specific kink of a pool orgy in a confirmed haunted house.

Karen Gillan: That was one of the funniest things ever. The haunted look.

Can you talk about how the film really enjoys the absurdity of this dystopian world, one that is still so close to our own?

Yeah, that was probably one of the things that excited me the most was the tone of this movie and the tone of the Riley Stearns movies. They all have an absurd quality to them that is very dry, darkly comical, very morbid, but in a very funny way. And I was like, “Oh, I want to be on it. I want to be part of that. I want to see if I can deliver those uniquely written lines in a somewhat natural way, while keeping my expression deadpan.” There were a lot of challenges involved in getting on the same page as Riley’s vision.

I love that Sarah’s clone is a little better from a surface view. No cellulite, different colored eyes, take your boyfriend in the movie and just replace Sarah in her own life. Can you talk about how she deals with these insecurities? Because she pushes her to want to finally live her life. She was kind of stuck in a rut.

Yes. When we meet Sarah, she’s definitely not living her life. She just exists, she navigates day by day, not really valuing her time in this world. And then she’s presented with this, quite simply, a more improved version of herself. And then that version of her starts to take over her life as well, and that forces Sarah to confront her own life and decide if it’s something she wants to fight for, and then it turns out she is! And then she goes on this whole quest to become stronger, more capable, and through that she grows in confidence, which is really interesting to play.

I thought Aaron Paul was great in the movie and I love the whole win-win scene as it goes into a twist of direction where you end up teaching him hip-hop dance lessons. How was that experience? You probably never thought you’d be teaching Aaron Paul how to dance hip-hop.

Not something I thought was in the cards for me, but I’m glad it was. I just remember trying to learn that routine with Aaron and the instructor was laughing at us because we were both so bad at it.

So you don’t have a dance background?

No no, here’s the funny thing, I actually have a background in dancing, but I was never good at it. So I like it, I took classes, so you’d think I’d be better than I am, but you know when you’re not a natural for something? That’s me with the dance.

Well, you did it. It looked good when you were teaching, so movie magic.

What was the hardest thing about playing two roles and having these scenes where you play another version of yourself?

It was definitely a challenge. It was interesting, because I would have to play one version of the character and then imagine what I’m going to do when I get close to the other and then react according to what I imagine I’m going to do in the future, if that makes any sense. It was like, a lot of multitasking, but I had an amazing actress, Katarina, who played the other character for me, whoever I wasn’t playing at the time. And so we were kind of in this together. It was definitely a team effort.

I thought the ending was really shocking and there’s a really interesting discussion on the subject of happiness and what kinds of things happen when you get status or possessions that you think, “Oh, this will make me happy.” but then you understand and you’re not happy. Can you talk about what you want people to take away from that ending?

However, that’s just the lesson of life, isn’t it? As if external things and material possessions just don’t make you happy. It’s such a temporary fix, so you’re going to get a rush of endorphins and then that wears off and you’re like, “Oh, that didn’t fix it.” I think you have to look much deeper within yourself to get there. I don’t know why this is turning into a therapy session. [laughs]. But yeah, I think that’s a very valuable lesson that the movie brings up.

On his YouTube channel, he posted this really awesome workout for the movie. How does fitness really compare to your other roles? We’ve seen you in superhero movies and these other movies that require you to be in top condition.

Well, on this one I had to start out in no shape to play Sarah, and then I needed to… and it wasn’t a very long shoot. It was like 20-odd days. So I started filming not really in shape, and then I tried to get in shape really fast, so that by the end of the movie, it looks like Sarah has been working out and she’s ready to duel. So that’s what I had to do. I was going pretty hard, but for a shorter period of time. For the other movies, I would say that I definitely work out for a much longer period before the movie starts. So this one was much less intense in a way.

I wanted to ask you about your performance in Marvel’s What If…? Because I thought it was very interesting to see you play this different version of Nebula and have T’Challa as your love interest. How was that?

Oh, that was so much fun to play with. When I first saw my character sketches, I thought, “What? He has blonde hair. He was kind of a femme fatale version of Nebula, who was a lot of fun to play with. It was great to be involved in that project. I thought it was a great episode.

You mentioned earlier that Riley Stearns always has this kind of wacky humor in her movies. What was your biggest learning from working with him as a director? He has such a unique style.

I’d just say it’s amazing when the director knows exactly what he wants the way Riley does. He has such a clear vision, and that’s something that everyone can get behind and really support and bring to life. So I loved working with him and I feel like he really helped me as an actress, to expand and be a lot more fun and dry in a deadpan way than ever before, for which I’m grateful. , because now I can use that in other things, if I want to.

I was also really curious about the role that you get most recognized for because Nebula, you have a lot of makeup and you had that amazing Doctor Who run. So, on the street, why do you get recognized more?

I think it’s… I think it could be Nebula, which is very ironic because it’s the one where you can’t really see my face, but it’s the one I hear about most often. So I was surprised by that. I thought maybe it would be Jumanji because my face is much more visible, but maybe Nebula for some reason.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is so unique because actors don’t usually get the chance to play the same character in so many different movies. Over the years, how has your connection to Nebula changed?

I love my character very much. I am obsessed with her. Honestly, I’m fascinated. I think she has been so lucky. It’s like the gift that she keeps giving because she starts out as this villain, and I got to really show her perspective and her point of view on things. I think it’s been like six movies, and I think she’s completely fascinating. Her whole family, her dynamic, her upbringing, toxic narcissistic family system. It’s everything I love to explore.

To play Sarah’s clone, what kind of inspiration did you have just for the inflection? Because there are plenty of moments where you can tell that she’s still learning what it’s really like to be human. So can you just talk about that aspect of playing that character?

I had a lot of fun playing the clone because I had a lot of fun playing a person trying to play a person. [laughs] If that makes sense. There are certain moments where I think she’s trying to sound casual or normal, or like Sarah. And it was fun to play with, like you said, like the inflections and things like trying to appear… yeah, it’s very, very interesting to play with.

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