MOVIE star Karen Gillan yesterday called for more arts funding in Scotland’s schools.
The 30-year-old, who was in Glasgow last night for the world premiere of her directorial debut The Party’s Just Beginning, believes education chiefs should be backing creativity just as much as academic success.
She said: “Art funding is always the first to be cut, but it’s so important we support the arts, especially for young people.
“So much emphasis in school is on academic stuff but some people’s brains just don’t work in that way.
“That’s how my brain is. Anything numerical isn’t going to work for me, but when it’s artistic that’s where I excel and I think a lot of other people are the same.
“I think we need to look at intelligence overall, because some people can only communicate their intelligence through artistic medium.”
The Scottish Government gave its formal backing to a purpose-built film and TV studio in Midlothian in December and Karen thinks that will be a great thing for the Scottish entertainment industry.
“It could become a hub for the industry if we allow it to be.
“Some of the Avengers film I’m in was shot in Edinburgh last year and everyone involved raved about it and thought it was a great place to shoot.”
Karen wrote the script for The Party’s Just Beginning when she was 24 after seeing a statistic that revealed there was a higher suicide rate in the Highlands among young men in Inverness than anywhere else in the country.
“That was a huge surprise to me. It’s idyllic and often voted one of the best places in the UK to stay, so immediately there was a strange contradiction between the postcard images and the dark imagery, so the film is me explaining why.”
Karen, of Inverness, has publicly given her backing to the Time’s Up campaign to end sexual harassment in the movie industry but says it is only the start of dramatic change.
She said: “I feel we are at the beginning of a change, there is a lot of work and a lot of change still to happen, but it’s a step in the right direction.
“Women are starting to speak up and be heard. There is still a lot of work to do but this is the beginning of a very positive change for women.
“I’ve seen a lot of women just in general be treated in ways I’m not happy with and I’m glad they are speaking up about this and talking of their experiences of that.”
Karen said she faced no opposition to directing the film, even though she’d never directed a feature before and with the number of female directors in the industry being very low – something the star hopes she can do her bit to change.
“The number of female directors is shockingly low,” she continued. “In all my time working I think I’ve worked with two, maybe three, female directors and I’ve worked with so many directors because I’ve done TV and they change over every week.
“It seems bizarre there are so few. It’s shockingly low. I want to do my bit to change that and I hope it inspires other females to get into leadership positions.”
Karen arrived in Scotland on Thursday and spent the next two days going round whisky shops trying to buy 400 miniatures for the audience at the premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival at the city’s Film Theatre – even though she doesn’t actually like our national drink.
“I have a cousin who drinks whisky and I’m constantly in awe of her. I would love to be the cool girl who drinks whisky, but when I try I just start coughing!”
Karen has appeared in some of the biggest-grossing blockbusters of the decade, including the two Guardians of the Galaxy films, current smash hit Jumanji and the upcoming Avengers films.
But she says she can still walk down the street without being noticed – and would be gutted if that ever changed.
“I feel I can still walk around, although I have noticed a shift since Jumanji and I’m getting recognised more. What I value most is my freedom, being able to walk down the street and have a coffee.
“I work with so many actors who don’t have that in their lives any more and I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have that.”
‘No matter how much Irn-Bru I drink from the specialist shop, LA will never feel like home’
Karen has just recently moved from Los Angeles to New York, but she still misses home despite spending almost half her life away from the Highland capital.
“I’m constantly homesick. I love exploring new parts of the world but of course I miss home,” she admitted.
“I feel healthier when I’m there – I think it’s the clean air.
“No matter how much Irn-Bru I drink from the specialist shops over there, I’m still homesick. I’ve just tried the new recipe and it’s really good!
“I come home about twice a year, but really as much as possible. It’s really healthy for me to do that because everything is go go go and it’s a relief when I can come back here – it makes me feel calm and tranquil and back to normal almost, and that just is really good for me to do.
“I always come home for Christmas. My mother would kill me if I didn’t!”
Ironically, though, both her parents, Marie and Raymond, missed last night’s Glasgow premiere of her debut as director and writer as they were on holiday in the States.
“They’re actually in LA enjoying the sunshine, which is so funny, but they’ve already seen it anyway.”
But she has loved getting the chance to catch up with old pals.
“When I’m back it’s exactly the same, nothing has changed since I was 16 and I still do the same things,” said the former Doctor Who favourite.
“I’ll go round to my friends’ houses and some of them have kids now, which is the only difference.
“I realise then we’re adults now and get confused – when did this happen?”