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Karen Gillan has played Nebula, cyborg Daughter of Thanos in quite a few movies — enough that the character has gone from villain, to reluctant ally, to a heroic Avenger, and we've seen an alternate timeline version that's bad to her robotic bones. It's been quite a ride for the Guardians of the Galaxy, but Gillan says James Gunn's upcoming third film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, is "the end of a chapter" and will be "amazing and sad."
Speaking to SYFY WIRE to promote the upcoming indie sci-fi film Dual, where she plays a woman and her clone who must fight to the death, Gillan teased what she could about Nebula's next appearances. The character will next feature in the fourth Thor movie, Thor: Love and Thunder, as Chris Hemsworth's Thor was last seen hitching a ride with the Guardians.
"Thor is going to be so much fun," she says of the Taika Waititi-directed film, set to hit theaters on July 8. "It's going to be hilarious in that Taika brand of comedy that we all love."
After that, we'll perhaps see a festive Nebula in the Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, due this December on Disney+. ("Yay!" is all a giddy Gillan can say about that.) Then, on May 5, 2023, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 will mark the end of an era.
"We're kind of coming to the end of this chapter of the Guardians as we know it. So there's a bittersweet nostalgic feeling settling in, for sure, as we film it," Gillan says. "We're closing out a chapter so you have to come and watch us close that out. It's going to be amazing and sad."
Gillan's Endgame performance as Nebula is somewhat similar to Dual, which hits theaters on Friday. Gillan stars as Sarah, a depressed, seemingly unambitious woman who is diagnosed with a terminal disease. She opts to take advantage of a technology that creates a clone of herself so that her loved ones won't have to grieve when she's gone. However, upon making a miraculous recovery, Sarah must face her clone in a government-mandated duel to the death, as there can only be one Sarah walking around. With one year to train — and spurred by the fact that her family seems to like this clone more than her, the original — Sarah readies to face herself.
The film, which is quirky, darkly funny, and sad in equal measure, was written and directed by Riley Stearns (The Art of Self Defense) and features his trademark dialogue style. The characters all speak in a deliberate, artificial, and overly expository way. This intentional affect, while perhaps off-putting at first, gives the movie freedom to find odd comedy or tap unexpectedly raw emotional truths.
But, Gillan doesn't think there's too much of a comparison to be made between two (or four) characters, even though both Sarahs speak robotically and the Nebulas are robotic.
"I would say that Nebula's pretty different from these characters," she says. "I mean, Nebula's part robot, but I don't really see her as very robotic. I would say she's more kind of affected by her upbringing with Thanos and her sister than any part of her that's robotic."
However, Gillan's experience making the blockbuster of all blockbusters that was Endgame did give her some great experience that helped with Dual.
"It was kind of good prep because I knew exactly how I liked to operate when acting opposite myself. I knew that, for Dual, I wanted a really great actress to act opposite so that I could react off of her, rather than someone reading off the lines who is not an actor or looking at an X on a stick," Gillan says, praising Finnish actress Katariina Havukainen, who stood in for the "other" Sarah on the set. "So that was really great. I wouldn't have thought of that had I not had Endgame experience before."
Dual opens in theaters on April 15.