Ten Minutes with Pom Klementieff

Meeting Mantis

Interview By: Emma Kalka & Noelle De Luna


What was it like to be cast as Mantis? Did you read all the comics to prepare?
It was incredible, it changed my life. I was a huge fan of the Marvel Universe before getting to be a part of it, so I was really excited about that. And then, of course, you start stressing out. Like, oh my god. It's pressure. It's a character in the comic books that is depicted in different ways from different writers. So she never looked the same throughout the years. And even her behavior is different from one writer to another one. And, when I had the audition with James Gunn, even his version of the character seems to be completely different from the comic books. So, I was really confused. I asked him - do I need to read all the comic books? I kind of want to, but I feel like your vision is very different from what I've read and what I saw. And he said, “You know, you don't need to - it's a totally new vision of the character. And you can, if you want. But we're creating something special and different.” And so I just trusted him. Because I loved his movies so much and I decided to go with his vision and have fun with it and create something unique. And I think that's what we did in some way. Because she's very different from the other, you know, female Marvel or other superhero characters. She's more weird and special, and it's fun to bring something new, I think.

Now that it’s safe to talk about Endgame, what was your favorite scene to film?
I was really excited when they added the scene with all the female characters going to fight together. On set it was so fun. We were just goofing around and hugging and just like... dancing. And just like, “Yea, let's do this!” And, you know, we love one another. All the actresses. There's no competition. So we're just... let's make sure that everyone is seen. You know, because it's very technical. When you have to do a scene like that, you have to see all the characters and the camera it moves a certain way, so you have to make sure not to hide someone… Just make sure everyone has her moment. 

I remember watching it on the monitor, you know, just after shooting it, and had goosebumps. I was like, oh my god!

Which was more difficult - fighting Josh Brolin in Oldboy or fighting Josh Brolin in the Avengers?
It was actually more difficult in Oldboy because I really had to do some martial arts movements and train for, I think, two months back then. And it was new for me. I had been training a little bit, thinking of the movie before getting cast. But, I was more new to it. Now I'm much better because I've been training for years. But that then it was more stressful and I was afraid to actually punch him in the face and give him a black eye. (Laughter) No, but you have to be careful. Because he runs towards you and you have to do a fake punch. But if you mess it up, you could actually hurt him and then it's going to look different. And then he's the lead of the movie and it's not cool. It was totally stressful. And for Endgame, it's funny that I got to try and kill him twice, no three times. I was telling him, it would be cool to find a rom-com or something where we're actually friends. Something where I'm not trying to kill you. 

Are you looking forward to Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3? What do you think or hope will happen to our favorite space crew now that Thor has joined?
I mean, I can't tell anything. I know that we're going to shoot Guardians 3. We might or I might shoot other Marvel movies, but I'm not really allowed to talk about them. But that's really exciting too. But yea, I read the script for Guardians 3 and it's incredible and hilarious and heart-breaking and it's really amazing. I can't wait to shoot it and for people to see it.

So without giving anything away, but just for you personally, what would you like to see more of from Mantis' character in the future?
You know what, I just trust James Gunn's vision. So whatever he thinks is good for the character, I'm sure it's going to be awesome. He's really good with that. We've seen it. I just want to have fun. I would love to have more interaction with the female characters, because oftentimes it's more with the guys. Which is cool too, but it would be great to have more interaction with like, Nebula, for example. Because I love Karen in real life and we don't actually really have scenes together. I would love to have scenes with Shuri. I think they would be on the same... same vibe. They're both funny and weird, and you know. We'll see. 

I really love your take on her and how weird she is.
It's so funny because so many things, like, I see on Twitter, like “Oh my god, did you see what she did in the background?” And like, no one saw it. And then one day someone sees what I actually did. I do so many things, but the camera is never on me, so I'm like, whatever. I'm going to do it anyway. 

Some actors with a Korean background, like Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead, have really embraced this and been embraced by Korean fans in turn. Has your Korean background figured into the way Korean fans relate to you, and if so, how?
I feel a connection for sure. I feel like people see themselves in me in some way when they have a Korean background, because my mother was Korean. It's amazing to be here and to have a connection with them. So yea, it's really nice. I, myself, was raised by my French family in a very French way. But my mother was Korean, so there was always, for me, I had a connection with Korea by watching Korean movies. Like Park Chung-woo movies, Bong Joon-ho, Kim Ki-duk. Incredible directors. And really felt a strong connection with that, with these movies, because they're beautifully shot and crazy dramatic stories. Like Greek tragedies. The violence. I feel a connection with that, for sure. And also, I'm a quarter Russian, so that kind of craziness, I dig it. I'm not saying that Russian or Korean people are crazy, but, you know what I mean.

Some editing was done for space constraints.

Sean Choi