Avengers: Infinity War opened this past weekend and ended up having one of the highest-grossing openings of all time. The film collects almost every known hero in the Marvel cinematic universe, making it a superhero bonanza and an endpoint for many of the franchise’s current storylines. Two notables were Gamora (Zoe Saldana), one of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and Nebula (Karen Gillan) her adopted sister.
The fates of both characters surprised fans – with one meeting her end from Thanos throwing her off a cliff, while the other made it out alive with Ironman – but both women were happy with the twists that came in Infinity War.
The costuming and makeup that both roles require is impressive. The makeup teams for Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers managed to flawlessly take both Saldana and Gillan from regular looking humans to a green ass-kicking Zen-Whoberian and a blue and purple Luphomoid. It’s quite a process to make those characters come to life, and they both look amazing. But, what is even more surprising is what Saldana and Gillan look like when they aren’t in character.
They may be hard to recognize underneath all the makeup, but when you see them in “human form,” you realize you have seen both actresses many times before, you just didn’t realize it.
One you know from Avatar, Star Trek, and Pirates of The Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl while the other rose to fame in the long-running BBC favorite Doctor Who. And, now you know why they look so familiar.
20 Selling Out
Saldana says that she is proud to play the part of a superhero or sci-fi character, and if an actor has a role that requires a cape, gives them superpowers, or makes them fly through space, it doesn’t make them less than.
"I've been in rooms with people in this industry who are great at what they do, but they're absolutely elitist and they look down at movies like the Marvel films or actors like myself," Saldana said. "They think we're selling out in some way. Every time they speak I feel so disappointed in them, because whenever you see pictures of people in this industry who donate their time to children in need, it's these actors that live in the world that you feel is selling out."
She goes on to say it’s these actors that understand the role they play inspires a 5-year-old who has a dying wish to meet a superhero, and they take time out of their life to meet that child and let them know that they see and hear them – and that they matter. Saldana says elitists should be more aware of what playing a superhero means to a small child.
19 No Selfies
Saldana doesn’t take selfies with fans because she says it is confusing for her sons. She explains that posing for pictures with strangers sends mixed messages to her boys.
When her boys see someone approaching her for a picture, it confuses her sons and it shifts their behavior. So, she just tells the person that she is teaching her boys about strangers and taking a picture would be very confusing. Saldana says that the response is always one-hundred percent receptive, and people go “My God, we get it.” Then they walk away knowing why she turned them down.
She has also said that her greatest wish for her boys is that they grow up not “feeling conscious” about the color of their skin or where their parents come from. Saldana wants them to believe that they can achieve anything in life.
The Avatar star lost her dad when she was very young, and she says having sons has changed her views on men. She says that raising sons has humbled her and she is in awe of who they are as boys – especially because we put so much pressure on them. Saldana says that she and her husband are determined to raise happy, stress-free men.
18 Look Familiar?
Scottish actress Karen Gillan portrays Nebula, daughter of Thanos, in Avengers: Infinity War, and people were pleasantly surprised by how much the evil extraterrestrial was on screen. For many, it was difficult to figure out who was underneath all of the special effects, but they knew she looked familiar.
That is because she is famous for starring as Amy Pond in the long-running sci-fi series Doctor Who, and she also recently appeared in the new Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, as well as The Circle with Tom Hanks.
After portraying Nebula in the first two Guardians of the Galaxy movies, she returned for Infinity War, but she didn’t see the movie until it premiered – just like everyone else. She knew there would be a lot of surprises, because she never read a full script.
“No, I don’t know anything. I mean, it’s kind of fun and weirdly liberating to just go, okay, I’m just going to shoot my scenes and I don’t know how they fit into the overall context. And then on Monday just get to watch it objectively as a movie,” said Gillan.
She says it was a fun role, even though it required a lot of makeup every day, and she even shaved her head the first time she played the character.
17 'Jumanji' Success
Gillan says she was a huge fan of the original Jumanji and was excited to be a part of the reboot along with The Rock, Jack Black, and Kevin Hart. However, no one expected for it to be the massive hit that it became.
She said it was a big deal to her because everyone else in the film is a gigantic movie star, and she kept asking herself “how the hell am I in this?” Gillan says she was grateful to be there and she thinks everybody thought the movie was going to do well because it was perfect for the holidays and it was something everyone in the whole family could watch. But, she doesn’t think anyone quite anticipated the level of success Jumanji eventually achieved.
Gillan says people want to see a family movie where parents and children can laugh at the same jokes, and she believes there is a big gap in the market for that.
Sony just announced that there will be another Jumanji movie, but except for The Rock, it isn’t clear who will be returning.
16 Plot Hole
Avengers: Infinity War is an extraordinary achievement considering that the screenwriters successfully balanced ten years of various plot threads into one cohesive movie without losing the Marvel that fans love. But, that doesn’t mean the script is perfect.
The movie raises several questions that they will probably answer in future franchise installments, but there was one scene in particular that you can’t explain without acknowledging a plot hole. In the movie, Gamora makes Star Lord promise that he would kill her if Thanos ever managed to capture her. He does try to shoot her when she falls into the Mad Titan’s clutches, but what doesn’t really make sense is why she would go to Knowhere in the first place.
Despite knowing that she held the key to helping Thanos wield unlimited power, Gamora still joins the team that will eventually have to face her father. And this means she risks everything for no reason. Instead, if she would have chosen to join Thor, the movie would have played out differently. But, Gamora willingly goes to Thanos and risks millions of lives in the process.
Fans can argue that this more of bad judgment than it is a plot hole, but this skilled tactician would have known the best course of action would have been for her to avoid Thanos at all costs.
15 The Key To Everything
Before Infinity War hit the theaters one of the biggest mysteries was the Soul Stone, which was the only Infinity Stone no one had ever seen before, and it was seemingly somewhere where Thanos would never find it.
The path to this Infinity Stone was devastating for the audience once they realized how the mysterious orange gem guarded its power. It looks like the only way to defeat Thanos involves Gamora and her soul.
"He (Thanos) is an incredibly difficult character to beat. He's stronger than the Hulk. He's more like Genghis Khan. He's a force of nature. He has a spiritual wisdom well beyond all the other characters. He is a conqueror of worlds. He doesn't have a weakness and that is what makes him so threatening," said director Joe Russo.
But he does have one weakness, the thing he loves the most in the universe – his daughter Gamora. It is possible that Gamora’s soul is connected to the Soul Stone. And since Russo has explained that Thanos’ emotional vulnerability is the key to his defeat, the logical conclusion is a link to Gamora.
If souls sacrificed to the Soul Stone somehow become part of the gem rather than dying, there could be a way to bring Gamora back.
14 A Pleasant Surprise
The character of Nebula was originally meant to die in the first Guardians of the Galaxy, so she was surprised to learn that she was going to be a part of the sequel.
“And then when we got close to shooting that (Nebula’s death scene), suddenly her ending was rewritten, and then it was rewritten again, “she continued. “So, I just didn’t know what was going on. And then she didn’t die in the first movie, and I was really excited about that.”
Gillan says that she and her female Marvel co-stars have talked about an all-female Marvel movie, but it was just something they discussed casually. She says that they were taking a big photo, like a class photo, and all the women got together afterward and talked about how great it would be if every day were like that.
So, they thought it would be fun to make it happen, and Tessa Thompson and Brie Larson went to director Kevin Feige and said that he needed to do it. However, that’s the last she has heard about an all-female Marvel movie, but you never know.
In the meantime, Marvel’s first female headliner, Captain Marvel, will premiere in theaters early next year.
13 Stage Fright
For Gillan to pursue her dreams of performing she had to overcome the crippling stage fright she experienced as a child.
"I was one of those weird children that just couldn't talk to people, so I kind of had to make myself be not like that because I knew it was going to hinder me," said Gillan.
She says her stage fright was so bad that when she tried to perform on stage as a child, she couldn’t get anything out. But, to overcome her shyness, she kept confronting her fear. She knew she had to keep doing it because you only get scared of things that you don’t know. The 30-year-old says once you familiarize yourself with it, then everything is fine.
Gillan eventually made it to London’s Italia Conti stage school, but she had to drop out because she landed a role in the Scottish show Rebus. She said she was only 18 and she couldn’t resist the temptation. However, it was a gamble because it was only for one episode.
Other roles did eventually follow, but Gillan had to support herself by working in a pub before she landed steady acting work. She says that was important for her because that is the reality of life as an actor. You get a job here and there and you really have to try to get into the business, unless you are very lucky.
Saldana starred with Britney Spears in the 2002 movie Crossroads, and twelve years later it was the pop star who spilled the beans on Saldana’s pregnancy, but she and her husband weren’t ready for people to know.
“We were on the same flight from L.A. to New York and we just talked for the duration of the flight,” the 39-year-old actress said. “She has two boys, I was having twins — and we had a beautiful talk. And I forgot — it never even occurred to me to not to say anything. We weren’t trying to hide it, we were just trying to be discreet.”
Apparently, Spears didn’t know that, and a few days later she told Entertainment Tonight that Saldana was expecting twins when they asked her if the two would ever do another movie together.
Even though she wasn’t ready for everyone to know, Saldana wasn’t mad at Spears because the way it all went down was quite innocent, so she never thought about holding her accountable for anything. She says that Britney was just being herself – in a way where she lives her life with such truth – and she loves her for it.
11 The Race Debate
Saldana has starred in some of the biggest blockbusters of all time, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t had a hard time getting auditions – but it’s not because of her talent.
Instead, Saldana thinks it has a lot do with race, and the industry hides behind the excuse that “color doesn’t sell.” But, in reality, she says if you are in a position of leadership, that means it is your responsibility to guide the narrative and you can take the opportunity to re-shape it and put it on the right track. But, if you aren’t setting that trend, then you are no different than “the shackles that are binding you.”
For Saldana, it was more of an obstacle earlier in her career. She said that every time she read a script she was thinking about going for the lead role. It wasn’t until she came across the introduction of an ethnic supporting character that she realized she didn’t have a chance for the main part. Producers always wanted to go traditional on the part, and that was a hard pill to swallow for her.
When it comes to roles of color, she has also faced criticism. When she landed the part of Nina Simone back in 2016, Saldana faced criticism because Simone’s complexion was significantly darker than that of the Puerto Rican and Dominican actress.
10 Taking A Risk
At five feet eleven inches, Gillan is hard to miss when she walks into a room, especially with her flowy red hair and Scottish accent. So, it is ironic that in her most recognizable role to date, she is virtually unrecognizable.
But, she was ready for the challenge. Gillan says that when she originally auditioned for Guardians of the Galaxy, producers asked her if she would be willing to shave her head, and she said yes because she thought it sounded like a cool project. Her long red hair had always been a defining feature, so it would be extreme to cut it off. And, in retrospect, she realizes that – especially since Nebula was supposed to be a minor role that only required an eight-day shoot.
However, the risk paid off and Nebula has stuck around for longer than Gillan could have ever imagined. In the last four years, she has now played the role three times so far, and she was especially excited for Infinity War since she would be alongside Iron Man, Thor, and the rest of the Marvel gang.
“I felt like the Guardians were a family and we were about to meet all of our cousins,” Gillan said.
9 Dating In L.A.
Gillan is single and moved to L.A. five years ago when she landed the pilot for Selfie, plus a role in the movie Oculus. She said she was in Inverness when her agents called her and told her to submit an audition for the film within 24 hours. So, she set up a camera in her bedroom and had her dad read the other part.
It ended up working, and since director Mike Flannigan was such a big Doctor Who fan, he tailored the part specifically for Gillan. After she wrapped filming, she decided to stay in L.A. and give it a go because of the career opportunities for women her age. She said there were opportunities in the UK, but it was mostly for period dramas and that’s not her immediate casting.
However, when it came to her personal life, she found out that dating isn’t easy, even if you’re famous. But there is one reason in particular that Gillan doesn’t enjoy dating in Los Angeles.
She says she is terrified by the prospect of dating in the U.S. because Americans seem to go about it in such a different way and date a lot of people at the same time. She wonders if Americans are kissing all the people they are dating.
Instead, she prefers the UK way, where you just drink near someone and no one knows if it is a date or not.
8 Mr. Saldana
Saldana married Marco Perego in 2013, and the couple shocked fans when they revealed that Perego took her last name.
'Why is it so surprising, shocking - eventful that a man would take his wife's surname?' Saldana wrote on Facebook. 'Women have never been asked if it's OK for them to give up their names - why doesn’t that make the news?'
She responded to critics by saying that a man’s legacy will not perish if he takes his partner’s name or she keeps hers, and she is proud that her husband took her name and made it his own. However, she does admit that she did try to talk him out of it at first.
Saldana told him that if he used her name, everyone would emasculate him – his community of artists, his Latin community of men, and the world. But, he looked at her and said, “Ah Zoe, I don’t give a s**t.”
After the couple tied the knot, Saldana gave birth to twin boys, Cy and Bowie, in November 2014, and her son Zen in 2017. And, she says that once a movie almost dropped her because of a pregnancy. The mom of three said that it will never be the right time for anybody in your life to get pregnant, and when she found out that she could possibly lose a job at a time when she was super happy about expecting, she couldn’t believe it.
Saldana had no understanding how a woman in her thirties who had finally found love and was living her life could possibly screw up someone else’s schedule.
7 Spoiler Alert
At this point, whether you have seen the movie or not, it is no secret that a lot of our favorite Marvel heroes didn’t make it out alive at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. But, Saldana revealed that at least one of the characters will return for Avengers 4 despite their fate in the latest film.
In an interview with E! News, Saldana and Chris Pratt sat down to talk about making the latest Marvel movie and what the last day on the set was like. Pratt, always the funny man, opted to answer with lyrics from a Boyz II Men song, but Saldana said it felt like a “tbc,” because she knew they would all have to return for Avengers 4.
She said that for her the day felt like a “to be continued” because she knew that they would all have to come back at some point in the fall and finish up the fourth installment of the Avengers. So, Saldana felt like the last day was more of a “see you later” instead of a formal goodbye.
Considering what happened to Gamora in Infinity War, this was a surprise to many fans.
Her answer suggested that despite Marvel Studio head Kevin Feige saying they would not undo the deaths from Infinity War, Gamora’s story is not over yet.
6 Actor And Director
Gillan recently made her directorial debut at the Tribeca Film Festival with a movie that she wrote, directed, and starred in – The Party’s Just Beginning. It is about a woman who is coping with the suicide of her friend, and she wrote the script because of the statistic she read that revealed her hometown of Inverness in the Highlands has an unusually high suicide rate.
The says that statistic stuck with her because it is where she grew up and she had an idyllic childhood running around in a beautiful landscape. So, for her, it was just a weird prediction.
“Yeah, it is very cut-off from the rest of the world in parts of the Highlands. I mean, just no phone signal, no radio signal. So that is actually part of the whole thing; maybe a sense of isolation, a little bit. But so the story is not something I’ve actually experienced personally, so the whole suicide issue is something that I researched and it’s almost like me exploring that statistic a little bit. However, there is a lot of other personal stuff in there that I used to kind of tell the story in a sort of personal, authentic way,” revealed Gillan.
5 Amy Pond
Before she landed the role of Amy Pond, the sidekick to Matt Smith’s Doctor Who, she had a one-off role in the Fires of Pompeii episode where she played a soothsayer opposite David Tennant’s Doctor and Catherine Tate.
Peter Capaldi, who would also become the Doctor himself one day, also appeared in the episode.
Gillan first appeared as Amelia “Amy” Pond back in 2010 in the episode The Eleventh Hour, which was the first episode of season five and the first for Smith who debuted as the series’ 11th doctor. When it came to a battle of wits, Amy proved to be quite the match for the Doctor, and she ended up flying through the galaxy with him for two seasons, along with her fiancé Rory.
Both Amy and Rory eventually made their exit in season seven after the weeping angels caught them. However, even though she is a big movie star now, that doesn’t mean she is opposed to returning to the show and having an adventure with the new Doctor, Jodie Whittaker.
In fact, she says she is open to that idea, and is excited that there is going to be a female Doctor. She knows that Whittaker will be amazing because she is one of the best actresses in the U.K. and she knows the role couldn’t be in better hands.
She also says it is going to be exciting for all the skeptics because we all know a woman can play the role and it is exciting to see it happen. And, when it comes to Amy Pond, Gillan believes that she would get on well with the new Doctor. Even though she hasn’t seen Whittaker’s version of the Doctor yet, she still thinks Pond would be impressed with her.
4 She Knew Early On
Zoe Saldana says that producers told her Gamora’s fate very early in the process, and it did bring a shock to her system. She said that when they discussed it, it absolutely made sense because, to understand the degree of evil that lies at the core of Thanos, you must circle back to his children.
Besides the rest of the cast, Saldana’s husband was the only other person who knew Gamora’s fate, and even though producers were constantly making changes to the script, there were some things that were solid events that had everything to do with the plot.
She says that she is happy with the twists, but she just kept asking, "OK, am I going to...are you guys going to, you know...is Gamora going to...?" [Laughs] Which I think is the question so many actors [in the film] were having anyway.”
Saldana says that being part of the Marvel universe has made her happy and someone brought it to her attention that her character is a great role model for young women and young boys, and she lives for that.
However, for the sake of Marvel fans, she is not going to reveal what her role will be in Avengers 4 because she doesn’t want to rob them of an amazing experience.
3 Leaving Acting Behind
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl made Saldana think about quitting acting, but it wasn’t because she was ashamed of the movie. Instead, it was the behind the scenes politics that nearly ruined her career.
She says that Disney built the ride-to-film franchise on behind-the-scenes bickering that led her to want to throw in the towel.
"Those weren't the right people for me—I'm not talking about the cast," said the actress. "The cast was great. I'm talking about the political stuff that went on behind closed doors. It was a lot of above-the-line versus below-the-line, extras versus actors, producers versus PAs."
Saldana said that it was very elitist, and she almost quit the business because she didn’t want to put up with that kind of a situation ever again. She said people would disrespect her because of her number on the call sheet and didn’t think she was important.
Luckily, she got out of the franchise before it tanked and ended starring in two of the most popular franchises ever – Guardians of the Galaxy and Avatar – and her career has no signs of stopping. She stuck it out and is doing better than anyone else on the Pirates set.
2 Totally Vintage
Gillan is an old soul, thanks to her father. And, when she was growing up, Gillan and her dad would scour shops every weekend to look for vintage vinyl records. That experience left its mark and gave her a deep appreciation for artists like Elvis Presley and Nina Simone.
Her love of all things vintage extends to fashion, and one of her current favorite hobbies is shopping for vintage outfits on the weekend. She says she starts at the top of Brick Lane in London and works her way down. By the time she gets to the bottom, she always has an outfit.
However, even though she loves vintage music and clothing, she says that if she had access to a time machine, she wouldn’t go to the past, but instead would like to see the world in the future.
In fact, she would like to go as far into the future as possible before the sun explodes just to see what the world looks like. She is interested in finding out how the world has progressed and see what it looks like physically because she has a theory that we don’t do anything for ourselves. So, she thinks we will develop massive brains and have really frail bodies because we don’t do anything for ourselves.
1 Reluctant Action Hero
Gillan’s adventurous roles have earned her a reputation as an action hero, but she says she doesn’t really know how that happened. She thinks maybe it’s her height that allowed her to land so many action roles, but it wasn’t something she actively set out to do. However, she is loving it.
One of her favorite things about her role in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is that it challenged female action hero stereotypes who are usually "strong, sexy girl[s] who can kick everyone's a**."
"I'm a bit bored of that now," she said. "Let's have a girl who falls over her own feet while trying to be that. That's another layer I can play with."
But, acting isn’t her dream career. Instead, she wants to direct. Gillan began making movies at a young age. She says it all began when she got her own video camera and started writing and directing little horror films around her house, and she would end up killing her dad. She says it was a lot of fun because they would get tomato sauce and use it for blood.
Now that she has achieved her acting dreams, she has set her eyes on directing because she feels like that is exactly what she should be doing, and she feels “totally stimulated” by it.
References: uproxx.com, thesun.co.uk, popsugar.com, independent.co.uk, newsarama.com, wmagazine.com, cinemablend.com, bustle.com, people.com, inverse.com, digitalspy.com, latimes.com, express.co.uk, cbr.com, screenrant.com