|Movie||Guardians of the Galaxy|
Karen Sheila Gillan was born and raised in Inverness, the only child of Marie (née Paterson) and John Gillan, a singer and recording artist. She learned to play the piano when she was seven, and developed a love for acting at a young age, joining several local youth theatre groups and taking part in a wide range of productions at Charleston Academy.
When she turned 16, Gillan moved to Edinburgh and completed an HNC Acting and Performance course at Telford College. She moved to London at age 18 to study at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts drama school, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in acting.
While studying at Italia Conti, Gillan was scouted by a modelling agency and modeled in the launch party of Nicola Roberts' Dainty Doll Make-Up Range. This was shown in Roberts' episode of the documentary The Passions of Girls Aloud, which premiered on 4 April 2008. Gillan has said she would not give up her acting career to return to modelling, stating that she enjoyed modelling but acting was always her main interest and goal.