Not that it has held her back at all – she’s as chirpy as ever, and clearly keen to crack on with her schedule. “I’m here because there’s lots of opportunities career-wise. There are parts in the UK too, but they’re mostly period dramas, and that’s just not my immediate casting.” It was a film that brought her to LA in the first place – Oculus, a frightener from the producers of Paranormal Activity. And before long, she was on location in Mobile, Alabama, a place she has compared to Scotland because “it felt quite rural and they fry everything”.As we talk, her phone goes off, then her Skype, and there are knocks at the door which a couple of publicists, who are listening in from the bathroom, pop out to answer. She was in her childhood home in Inverness, when her LA agents demanded that she submit an audition for the film within 24 hours. And when filming was over, she thought, “Why not stay?“It kind of kills it when you see the ghosts having lunch and stuff,” she says. “I was afraid to be alone in the dark after The Ring. Things we can’t perceive because our brains aren’t developed enough.” Not all brains are alike though. Someone’s looking out for her.” You might say someone was looking out for Gillan too, given how far she’s come, so quickly. Gillan is very sensible and hard working and avoids the temptations of Los Angeles. “So I went to Soul Cycle [a modish spinning class] to just listen to their voices, because it’s a really specific way of talking. ” Selfie was another deft piece of casting, because Gillan knows a bit about rebranding herself – she did it as a child in Inverness.And yet by chopping backwards and forwards in time, and playing with the ghost’s hallucinatory powers, Oculus manages to keep the viewer wondering what’s real and what isn’t. “I think it’s because it feels like going to a nightclub without the hangover. ’ At first I was like, 'This is so funny, someone needs to put this into a comedy sketch.’ But at the end I’m like, 'Yeah! ’ I don’t laugh at all that positive motivational stuff anymore. ” It all started because of Selfie, a new sitcom in which Gillan stars as a self-absorbed valley girl who has plenty of Twitter followers but no actual friends.For Gillan, of course, there was no such conundrum. The music is so loud, they turn the lights off, and then they shout positive things at you while you’re doing it. So she tries to rebrand herself, with the help of a marketing expert played by John Cho (Harold, from the Harold & Kumar films). “My character’s this real Kardashian-type girl,” she says.Then she left Scotland at 17 for a London stage school, which she then left a few months later, because she’d booked her first job. In Oculus, she’s particularly well cast as an unstoppable woman on a mission – the mission being to defeat a demon that lives in a mirror and once killed her parents.
If anything the flame-haired Scottish actress has sped up since she moved to the West Coast 18 months ago.She’s made several movies in several genres – a romantic comedy (The List), an action fantasy (Guardians of the Galaxy) and a paranormal horror that came out on Friday (Oculus).She looks in fine fettle – her fiery hair in a pixie crop, still growing back from the time she had to shave it all off to play a cyborg super-villain in Guardians of the Galaxy.But she’s also fighting a cold, which is why she’s wrapped in a blanket and curled up in an armchair. The director, Mike Flanagan, was a huge Doctor Who fan (he even had a Tardis mug) and tailored the part for Gillan specifically.
So Gillan set up a camera in her bedroom and called her father, John, a care home manager. Move to LA, give it a go.” It sounds like a big step, but ever since Gillan was a girl, she’s been making intrepid moves in the service of her ambition.
At 16, she left Inverness for Edinburgh, determined to be an actress.