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Doctor Who – Karen Gillan on leaving the role of Amy Pond

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Doctor Who 6.10 The Girl Who Waited poster
Doctor Who 6.10 The Girl Who Waited – Karen Gillan and © BBC 2011

Karen Gillan was at the TV Critics tour to promote her new movie We’ll Take Manhattan, in which she portrays the iconic sixties’ model Jean Shrimpton.

But there was something else on my mind. Following the panel for the film, I asked her about her decision to leave the role of Amy Pond next season, on the cult favorite Doctor Who.

How will it feel not to be on the TARDIS anymore?

Comic Relief, Karen Gillan
Comic Relief - Double trouble for the Doctor with two Amy Ponds (Karen Gillan) © Comic Relief 2011

I feel sad because I’m going to leave but, with any story, it has to come to an end, and it was a mutual decision with me and Steven Moffat, the head writer on Doctor Who.

We had this lovely dinner and decided when the best time for me to go was and it’s been decided. So I’m excited, but slightly scared.

How much of the next season are you in?

Can’t tell you that. (she laughs) There’s going to be a few really good episodes.

Why are you leaving now? You said it was mutual, but did you feel that the story had run its course?

Basically, I’ve always wanted to time it right, when my leaving was going to come. So, I arranged this dinner with Steven Moffat and I was like, ‘Look, this is when I think I should go.’ And he was like, ‘Well, this is what’s going to happen in terms of the storylines,’ and then together we kind of worked it out.

It was actually a really pleasant way of going. There was no sense of receiving a script and then suddenly you’re gone. It wasn’t anything like that. It was really lovely actually.

You only did the show for two years.

Two years, yeah. Well, actually, in terms of companions, after the next few episodes I’m going to be the longest running companion of the recent series. So, actually, I’ve done it a little longer than my predecessors.

Do you have a favourite Doctor Who episode that you did?

Doctor Who 5.01 - Matt Smith and Karen Gillan
Doctor Who 5.01 The Eleventh Hour - The Doctor (Matt Smith) and Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) © BBC

Probably filming The Eleventh Hour which was my very first episode with Matt Smith. That one has a special place in my heart.

What was Matt’s reaction when he found out you were leaving the show?

I basically told him that I decided to go and he was just really supportive. It feels like a natural, right time to do it. He says he’s going to miss me very much. I’m going to miss him so much because he’s one of my best friends in the whole world now.

If you go through an experience like that with someone you kind of have this weird connection.

In real life he’s exactly like he is on Doctor Who, isn’t he?

He’s an eccentric guy, isn’t he?

What’s more daunting, trying to take on the iconic character of Jean Shrimpton or joining the Doctor Who world?

We'll Take Manhattan - Karen Gillen
Jean Shrimpton (Karen Gillen) © 2011 BBC

They’re both challenging in different ways. Entering the Doctor Who world is a life changing thing. It’s kind of on a different level, but playing someone who actually exists is pretty daunting as well.

How is life in Britain where Doctor Who is so huge?

My life hasn’t been the same since I got that job, being well known publicly and because it’s such a sort of wild, national institution over there it’s a whirlwind.

Do you have paparazzi following you?

Yeah.

Why do you think that Doctor Who doesn’t get the recognition in the big awards shows over here?

I don’t know. It’s weird for us, actually, because we didn’t realize that it had such a following over here. Then we came over for Comic-Con and there were four thousand people. It was the craziest experience ever.

For me personally, I don’t really care about awards. People watching is the thing and enjoying it.

Do you visit America very often?

We'll Take Manhattan - Karen Gillen
We'll Take Manhattan - Karen Gillen attends Ovation's presentation at the Television Critics Association Winter Tour at the Langham Hotel on January 14, 2012 in Pasadena, California © 2012 Ovation, photo by David Livingston/Getty Images

I love it here so much. Over the last few months I’ve been coming actually quite a lot, little random trips to New York.

Would you like to move here?

I’d definitely like to move to the States, that’s for sure. Not particularly Hollywood. I don’t know, anywhere really. I like the people. I think that you’re really friendly and it feels really supportive over here.

Would you like to work with Steven Moffat again, doing a Sherlock or something like that?

Steven Moffat is the greatest writer in Britain.

Did you get a chance to laugh with Matt Smith and Steven Moffat while you made the show?

Yeah. It’s the most fun job. It really, really is. We just can’t believe that it’s our job because we run around, we have creative freedom. We have the best writing to work with and the best stories. The three of us together, that’s when it feels really complete.

Are you on Twitter?

I’m not on Twitter actually. I don’t do the social networking sites.

Any reason?

Not really, actually. I don’t understand Twitter for a start. I don’t get it, but I think it’s a great way of promoting things and things like that. So, I totally understand why people do it. Maybe one day I will when I’ve figured it out.

What are you going to miss the most about Doctor Who?

I love my character.