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They're in every home, every bedroom, every bathroom. You see them everyday. And, yet, there is still something creepy about mirrors. At least, that's how Karen Gillan, star of the upcoming horror film "Oculus," feels.
Gillian is best known for her three-year stint on the British sci-fi institution "Doctor Who" where she played Amy Pond, the human companion to Matt Smith's ageless, time-traveling alien. When her time on the show was over, she started looking for new opportunties. And in a phone conversation with Yahoo Movies, she told us that "Oculus" struck a chord because of her deep-seated love of horror movies.
"I saw 'The Exorcist' by myself when I was way too young," Gillan said. She grew up watching scary movies with her mother — Wes Craven's "Scream" was a particular favorite — and they left a impression on her. Gillan revealed that she gets creeped out by what she thinks she sees reflected behind her in mirrors all the time. And when she's away from home for a long time, she insists on having someone else go with her back into her own house because she gets too scared to go in alone.
Gillan faces a real house of horrors in "Oculus," where she plays Kaylie, a young woman reuniting with her brother Tim after his imprisonment for the murder of their parents. It's always been Kaylie's beliefe that her brother was innocent, and the unearthly forces unleashed by the antique mirror in their house was truly to blame. So Kaylie and Tim track down the mirror to try to learn the truth, only to have to face the terrors of their youth again.
Gillan said her time on "Doctor Who" was the perfect training ground for acting in a horror movie, since she spent so much time running in fear from monsters that were added in later with visual effects. She also got to work with another sci-fi TV veteran, Katee Sackhoff from "Battlestar Galatica," who plays Kaylie's mother in flashbacks. Gillan called Sackhoff an "inspiration" for how she is forging a career on her own terms after behind so closely identified with a cult hit.
It may be odd for the 33-year-old Sackhoff to be playing the parent of the 26-year-old Gillan, but she explained it was actually helpful. Gillan said the scenes that took place in the past were shot first, so she was able to watch Sackhoff and Annalise Basso, who plays the young Kaylie, and then model her own performance on what they established. As for what actually happens in the film, Gillan was careful to avoid any spoilers. But she did reveal that the scene you can glimpse in the trailer involving her, a bloody mouth, and a lightbulb was the scare that seems to freak audiences out the most.
Gillan made one last appearance on "Doctor Who" in a surprise cameo at the end of the Christmas special that also marked Matt Smith's departure from the series. She said it was a surprisingly emotional experience, having already said good-bye to the show once before: "I was crying, Jenna [Louise Coleman] was crying, but somehow Matt kept it together." She also got to see the new Doctor, Peter Capaldi, step in to take over the role, which she said was strange but part of the nature of the 50-year-old show.
Gillan and Smith shared one other commonality on that final episode: they were both wearing wigs. Both actors had shaved their heads for movie roles between "Doctor Who" shoots. Gillan had revealed last July at San Diego Comic-Con that she had gone bald to play the villainess Nebula in the upcoming Marvel Studios' space adventure "Guardians of the Galaxy." Gillan said she's happy her hair is growing back now. At 5'11", she's so tall that with her shaved head she would often get mistaken for a man from the back. She did say that her bald head did change her entire attitude, making her stand up straighter and stride a little more forcefully, which was perfect for an evil space pirate.
You can see Karen Gillan (with a full head of hair) get scared out of her wits when "Oculus" opens in theaters on April 11.