Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is only a few weeks away from its theatrical release yet so little is known about a few of the new characters being introduced. The biggest reveal, that Kurt Russell is playing Ego the Living Planet and Star-Lord’s father, came early, but details on other new characters have been held back.
There are many new Ravagers, secretive roles played by Sylvster Stallone and Michael Rosenbaum, a new antagonist in Ayesha, and of course, a new potential hero joining the team in Mantis, played by Pom Klementieff.
Mantis has a lengthy history in Marvel Comics and was an essential lead characters in the Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning Marvel Cosmic stories – and the relaunch of the modern Guardians of the Galaxy from 2008-2010. So it’s no surprise to see James Gunn adding her to the team given that he sourced these specific books as inspiration for the first movie. Mantis is intentionally “weird” as Gunn and the cast put it since she’s never met anyone outside of Ego. She gets along with Drax in particular given their mutual social awkwardness but we don’t know much about her history or motivations. Pom, this being her first Marvel project where secrecy is the golden rule, couldn’t say too much when we visited the Guardians if the Galaxy 2 set last year.
I’ll just start with the basics. Can you tell us about Mantis and who she is and what she’s doing in this movie?
Pom Klementieff: So, she’s an alien. And she’s always with — at the beginning, she’s spent her life with Kurt Russell’s character. She was pretty lonely and then she meets the Guardians and…that’s it. She has empathetic powers, so it’s connected with feelings and emotions.
We heard that she has a connection with Drax in particular. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Pom Klementieff: They get along. They just– there is a friendship going on and they just click, you know?
What is your relationship like with Peter Quill?
Pom Klementieff: Um, I don’t know if I can talk about that! It’s a surprise! It’s going to be in the movie.
What kind of fighting does your character do?
Pom Klementieff: It’s a James [Gunn] interpretation of what he relates to from the comic books. So, it’s slight different from the comic books.
Is it martial arts? That kind of stuff?
Pom Klementieff: Hmmm. It’s different… [Laughs]
Can you talk a little bit more about her empathetic powers, what that means exactly and how they manifest in the movie?
Pom Klementieff: She can change emotions–
Other people’s emotions?
Pom Klementieff: Yes. [Laughs] I don’t want to give too much. There is not a lot of things to say about that. She feels things, you know, by touching people. So she can feel things and change emotions.
What’s her relationship like with Kurt’s character? I don’t mean specifically, but how do they interact? Do they work together? What is their sort of– Why is she with him?
Pom Klementieff: She’s like his right hand. She travels with him, and she’s an ally. It’s not like she works for him, but, yeah, she’s always with him.
What’s it like working with a legend like Kurt Russell?
Pom Klementieff: Oh, it’s amazing! He’s amazing. He’s really nice. He’s really funny. He’s really professional, and it’s great to see him work and to see someone who’s done so many movies and who’s so down to earth, it’s great. They’re all like that in this movie. I feel really lucky.
Kevin [Feige] told us that Mantis hasn’t really met a lot of other people before she meets the Guardians, and so she’s a little bit awkward.
Pom Klementieff: Yes, exactly! There’s an awkwardness and a curiosity… She wants to discover new things… she was really lonely and by herself, so it’s a completely new thing to meet these people and to discover new things and new emotions and a new way of sharing things.
How did you figure out the right way to convey that and still make her really likable to the audience?
Pom Klementieff: To convey what?
The kind of curiosity and that whole experience for her of encountering these people and learning all this-
Pom Klementieff: I don’t know. I think it’s like a kid, you know? You discover things and you’re curious about things and you make mistakes and you say, like, weird things or you’re awkward. And I think in a way it’s touching when you see someone do that. You’re like, ‘Oh! OK, you’re not really adapted to this society.’ But it’s kind of cute or touching or– ‘What is that?’ You know?
So, it’s not a hostile first interaction with the Guardians?
Pom Klementieff: Uhhhh, no. I didn’t say that.
Does she get into Peter Quill’s music? It brings so much emotion out of him, I would imagine it would have an affect on her too. The music he listens to, the mix tapes.
Pom Klementieff: I don’t think there is a connection with the mix tape. [Laughs]
Can you talk a little bit about the makeup for your character?
Pom Klementieff: Ah, the makeup! So, there is some CGI going on, that’s why I have dots on my face. [Laughs] So I’m not going to look like that. And my antennae are going to be bigger with CGI. So, I’m not moving them, it’s going to be the CGI job to move them. So, I hope they’re going to do a good job!
You mentioned that James is approaching this character in his own way. She has a long history in the comics. Did you look at any of that stuff? Or are you approaching it really clean and just from James’ vision?
Pom Klementieff: You’re going to think that I’m crazy, but I haven’t read the comic books. I wanted to and I asked James if I should and he said, ‘No, you don’t need to.’ Because I knew his version was so different from the pictures and drawings that I saw, that, you know, it would kind of fuck up the– you know? But I remember when I had the audition, I was creating a character in my mind, in my head and reading the lines, I knew like which way I wanted it to be and it’s so well written that it was a really different flavor. When I saw the pictures on the Internet, I was like, ‘What?! Really?! No!!’ And I cried, I was like, ‘No! It has to be like this! His vision has to be more–‘ I don’t know what to say. I don’t want the character to be, like, sexual and, like, usually they’re always like that. The girls are always like– [Acts sexy] And it was different because it was different. I think we’re creating something different.