The character of Nebula, played by actor Karen Gillan, originally appeared as a brutal villain in James Gunn's first "Guardians of the Galaxy" movie. Nebula was raised by the brutal soldier Thanos (Josh Brolin) who systematically abused and tortured her, replacing her body parts which machinery and assuring her that she would become a deadly murderer like him.
While she has always been filled with rage, Nebula drifted over into the care of the titular Guardians as the films progressed. The Guardians of the Galaxy were a strange found family of ragtag space misfits who often perform acts of righteousness, sometimes against their immediate instincts. Nebula's sister Gamora (Zoe Saldaña) was already part of the group, and the angry android, softening and seeing the wickedness of her past actions, was eventually welcomed into the fold. By 2023's "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 3," she was … well, she hadn't softened, but she was more accepting of her found family and a life of peace.
Nebula's arc has, of course, matched the arc of the "Guardians of the Galaxy" movies themselves. From the first film in 2014 to the most recent, the films have become increasingly sentimental, aiming for tears as often as space action thrill and goofy humor.
Gillan clearly loved working on her films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and sensed that "Vol. 3" might be her last time playing Nebula. As such, she snuck her iPad onto the set to film a personal video diary during shooting about a day in the life of playing her character, which then turned into a week of filming. The video included Gillan's early morning trips to set, her extensive makeup process, and her line readings.
A Week In The Life Of Playing Nebula
The video begins with Karen Gillan taking a ride to her trailer, which looks like a small apartment, complete with a kitchen. She puts on some clothes that can be ruined by blue splatterings and heads to the makeup chair, where she'll sit for several hours. A costumer then helps Gillan into her elaborate superhero costume. Amusingly, Gillan has some trouble remembering which of the MCU movies Nebula has appeared in.
Knowing she's filming a video diary, Gillan pauses while in makeup to answer some questions from fans, pointing out that she has, over the course of four feature films, gone through the Nebula makeup process over 170 times. Eight minutes into the 25-minute video, it's finally daylight. Gillan has a very, very, very long working day, it seems. Shooting on "Vol. 3," she mentions, took about 60 days.
The video goes on to show Gillan in her Nebula tent, where she relaxes while the "Guardians" film crew prepares the set. It's this part of the footage that will be a special treat to fans: we see Gillan acting on set in a supposed spaceship, surrounded by a green screen with only the floor and window frames actually in the room with her. Her scene is opposite Rocket Raccoon, and she will be delivering her lines to a scale model of the character.
At the end of filming comes the arduous process of Gillan getting out of makeup and costume. The next day, she has to do it again, while also doing publicity for another movie.
Exhausting, yes. But lovely.
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