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.
Kevin mentioned that the audition process is pretty long.
Pom Klementieff: It was a first audition with the casting director and then a second one with the casting director and James, and then the third one was a screen test here in Atlanta.
What do you think separates Mantis from everyone else? What does she do differently?
Pom Klementieff: There’s something more strange, maybe. She comes from a different world and she’s less… I don’t know. There’s like something less sexual, I would say. Or more awkward, yeah?
So, she’s like an awkward sort of presence? Is that why she gets along with Drax?
Pom Klementieff: Yeah, I think so. [Laughs] They’re a little bit off, you know?
Is there any romantic dynamic between her and Drax?
Pom Klementieff: You’ll see! You’ll see!
Does she have a personal character journey, in addition to the big picture mission? Is there anything about her that needs to change over the course of the movie, other than just learning things? Like a personal character arc?
Pom Klementieff: No, I don’t think so.
Who’s her family? Does she have parents? Is she like an adopted sort of daughter of Kurt Russell’s character?
Pom Klementieff: Um–
Unit Publicist John Pisani: We don’t want to get into too much of that.
Because I know family is a big theme in this movie, and I feel like every character has some sort of connection to something that they lost.
Pom Klementieff: Yeah, yeah, it’s true. Yeah, there’s some like adoption and some loneliness going on, but I can’t really, like, explain everything.
Can you tell us what’s happening today? What you’re doing today?
Pom Klementieff: Today, it’s not really big for my character. I’m just with Kurt Russell. But I can’t really say what I’m doing, right? [Laughs]
Unit Publicist John Pisani: Yeah, it’s a little bit of a spoiler. You probably don’t want to say that part.
[Laughs] What’s it like joining this Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has just grown exponentially in these last few years?
Pom Klementieff: It’s amazing! I feel really lucky and really happy. I’m really happy to work with James, he’s a wonderful human being. He has a big heart, and he created something really beautiful and really badass and fun and cool. It’s a beautiful story.
How does she interact with Rocket and Groot, because Rocket is a very angry character? Does that rub off on her?
Pom Klementieff: Yes! There is a funny moment, but I can’t really tell. She’s trying to connect with him and it doesn’t really work. [Laughs]
We saw some concept art of your character kicking some ass with the Guardians. Can you talk a little about that, about your character with the Guardians in the middle of everything?
Pom Klementieff: I look really badass on it, but am I in the movie? Hm, I don’t know.
What’s your character’s greatest strength and greatest weakness?
Pom Klementieff: Oh my god. [Laughs] Greatest strength? It’s her power to be able to read people and to change them, and her weakness, maybe, would be the past. And what she accepted for a long time in her past.
She’s haunted by her past?
Pom Klementieff: I mean, haunted, we all have fucked up things that happened to us in the past, but we just, like, go with it, you know?
Two of the best characters in the movies are on set played by guys in green suits. Is it sort of hard to do a scene against Sean Gunn on his knees as Rocket? Is it weird?
Pom Klementieff: He’s amazing! It’s funny how he can, like, fold himself and he’s great. He’s a great actor.
No, it’s weird, but it’s really technical when you are in a movie. Sometimes instead of an actor, you have to talk to something that is next to the camera, because it gives a better angle for the shot. When you’re an actor, you have to imagine. You have to do “as if” and you have to imagine things, like, ‘Oh there is something coming here!’ Or, ‘You’re in a beautiful countryside. It’s beautiful. There is a tree there. There are birds.’ And then you imagine stuff, so it’s kind of the same. So, it’s kind of like an extension of that.
With her powers to not only read but manipulate emotion, something from the comics saw Mantis sort of control the other Guardians in a way that kind of split them up–
Pom Klementieff: Mhmm.
Does she have her own agenda in like, manipulating the other characters?
Pom Klementieff: Hmmm. [Laughs] I don’t want to give too much.
Unit Publicist John Pisani: “I think it’s fair to say she has somewhat of an arc that they go around to…
Pom Klementieff: He’s my bodyguard!
[Laughs] Understood. Thanks!
We’ll find out what that’s all about shortly! Oh, and Mantis will return for Avengers: Infinity War.
Set to the all-new sonic backdrop of Awesome Mixtape #2, Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 continues the team’s adventures as they traverse the outer reaches of the cosmos. The Guardians must fight to keep their newfound family together as they unravel the mystery of Peter Quill’s true parentage. Old foes become new allies and fan-favorite characters from the classic comics will come to our heroes’ aid as the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is written and directed by James Gunn and stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Baby Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, Elizabeth Debicki, Chris Sullivan, Sean Gunn, Tommy Flanagan, Laura Haddock, with Sylvester Stallone, and Kurt Russell. Kevin Feige is producing, and Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Jonathan Schwartz, Nikolas Korda and Stan Lee are the executive producers.