This has been quite a few days for Karen Gillan. Her directorial debut, The Party’s Just Beginning, just played the Tribeca Film Festival, and her other movie you may have heard of, Avengers: Infinity War, opens this weekend. (Also, not to mention that Sony has just announced another Jumanji film, but it’s so far unclear who all is returning other than Dwayne Johnson.)
In The Party’s Just Beginning, Gillan directs, wrote and stars in a film about a woman who is coping with the suicide of her friend, based on a statistic Gillan read about the unusually high suicide rate from her hometown of Inverness and the Scottish Highlands. And Gillan is returning as Nebula, the daughter of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. This interview was conducted a couple of days before either of us had seen Infinity War, but Nebula plays an important role in the film and in a movie chocked full of characters, she gets a lot more screentime than you’re probably expecting.
Ahead, Gillan talks about her pretty big last few months and she shares what she learned from James Gunn when it comes to directing other actors.
The Party’s Just Beginning seems very personal. Well, obviously, you wrote it and directed it…
Yeah. Well, you know, it’s funny, where it all came from, the genesis of the whole thing: I read a statistic that the suicide rates were significantly higher among young men in the Highlands of Scotland than the rest of Scotland, and that just struck me as so weird because I grew up there and my whole childhood was pretty idyllic. I mean, just running around beautiful landscape…
I’ve been there. It really is beautiful.
Yeah, okay, then you know, it’s lovely.
I’ve been to Inverness. I spent a week in the Highlands. Yeah, it’s beautiful.
It’s lovely, it really is. Okay, so now you can understand why it’s such a weird prediction.
I remember there were no radio stations.
Oh, there’s one local one in Inverness.
I couldn’t get it when I got to the Highlands. The car rental place gave me a CD to listen to. It was The Sopranos soundtrack. When I hear the theme song I think of Scotland.
That’s so funny. Yeah, it is very cut-off from the rest of the world in parts of the Highlands. I mean, just no phone signal, no radio signal. So that is actually part of the whole thing; maybe a sense of isolation, a little bit. But so the story is not something I’ve actually experienced personally, so the whole suicide issue is something that I researched and it’s almost like me exploring that statistic a little bit. However, there is a lot of other personal stuff in there that I used to kind of tell the story in a sort of personal, authentic way.