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Strength in Numbers, Power in Diversity: Actress Pom Klementieff on ‘Avengers: Infinity War’

April 27, 2018Ben MK

When the Marvel Cinematic Universe began a decade ago, who could have imagined that we would be where we are today? After a staggering nineteen films, the MCU has become a big screen juggernaut, and the franchise owes its success not only to the astounding vision of Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige and comic book legends like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, but also to the actors and actresses — like Pom Klementieff — who have helped breath life into these larger-than-life characters.

As Avengers: Infinity War begins its reign over the box office, we spoke with the French actress about her role in Marvel's latest — and biggest — blockbuster, to find out what she enjoyed most about once again donning the antennae of her quirky Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 character, and to get her take on what it's like being a part of the empowering, industry-wide shift towards more diverse female roles.

First off, how does it feel being a part of something as big as Avengers: Infinity War?

Klementieff: It's incredible, especially for me. You know, I'm from France, and I still remember watching the first Iron Man [and] the second Iron Man, and all these incredible Marvel movies in theatres in English, with the French subtitles years ago. And now getting to be a part of this incredible cast — it's amazing. I feel really lucky.

What was your favorite thing about reprising the role of Mantis?

Klementieff: I love Mantis. I love working with James Gunn. And I love how he wrote the character, and I think he created a really interesting character. And I love to play this character. [laughs] It's fun to be weird, to be different and funny, and I think it's great because it's also a very different character from the other female characters in the Marvel universe. And I think it opened the door to diversity in the women's behavior. It's not interesting to have just strong, badass female characters. It's fun to have different kind of women.

I remember when I was shooting Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, I was thinking it would be great next time to have a female character who gets drunk and messy. And then I saw Thor: Ragnarok, and I saw Tessa Thompson playing Valkyrie, and I was like, "Yes! That's it, it's happening!" And then I saw Shuri in Black Panther, and she's smart and she's funny, and I thought, "Yes! Again!" And that's great, so I love that.

That kind of ties in with my next question... Scarlett Johansson and Gwyneth Paltrow really blazed a trail for women in the franchise. Now we have so many great female characters, played by everyone from Zoe and Karen, to Danai, Lupita and Letitia, yourself, Evangeline Lily and soon, Brie Larson. What are your thoughts on being a part of such an empowering shift in the industry?

Klementieff: I feel really lucky. I feel really proud to be a part of that — of opening people's minds to a different kind of female character. So I love being a part of that. I think it's a great time in the movie industry, in that way. Things are changing. That's great.

Marvel is known for keeping its productions top secret, so not even you all, the actors, had full knowledge of the script. Now that you've seen the final product, what surprised you the most about the movie?

Klementieff: I don't know if I read a fake script or the real script, I can't remember! [laughs] Of course, there is a lot of secrecy and you can't say anything. I would be given pages and I'd have to give [back] my previous pages, and [security] is really tight. But it's great, you know, because it's all about people discovering the movie on-screen. And it's a big event, it's not like, "Oh, everyone knows what's gonna happen."

I mean, I was just blown away. It was just amazing, and really dramatic. And the way it ended, it's really special. And what I really love is Gamora (Zoe Saldana). The scenes between Gamora and Thanos are amazing, and she did such an incredible job. I just texted her yesterday, because I didn't get to actually congratulate her at the premiere. So I kept thinking about the things I needed to tell her [about] how amazing she was. [laughs]

Of course, with so many characters in one film, there isn't enough screen time to give every single person the kind of arc that Gamora and Thanos had. Did that affect how you approached the character, compared to, say, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2?

Klementieff: For sure, there are so many characters that a role like Mantis is not going to be as developed, as you say, as in Guardians Vol. 2; there's no real time for that. But I think we're a big family, and we're going to see Mantis more in Guardians 3, and it's going to be fine. I don't really think of that, I just do my job and I just hope for the best with the movie. And then I see the movie, and then it's amazing. It's not about me, you know?

Was there one member of the cast, in particular, that you didn't get to work with, that you would have loved to work with?

Klementieff: Yeah, I would have loved to work with Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson. I love their characters, they're amazing. I'm sure I'm forgetting [which] other people I would have loved to work with, because they're all pretty amazing, but they're the ones that just popped into my mind right now. [laughs]

Last but not least, if you could have any super power, what would it be?

Klementieff: I would love to be able to travel and not go through customs! [laughs] Just travel like that, quickly. Go anywhere I wanna go. And maybe bring someone with me. Having a plus one would be great! [laughs]

Avengers: Infinity War is now playing in theatres.

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