Full disclosure, the Guardians of the Galaxy movies are my favourite movies in the MCU. I care more about this group of assholes than I do some actual people I’ve met. So I was ecstatic to see that Pom was back on the list for Fan Expo 2019. Especially since I love Mantis. Also, she’s Canadian (Pom not Mantis). Even if she didn’t grow up here, she was born here and therefore ours.
Pom was born in Quebec City on May 3, 1986. She began acting at 19 and attended Cours Florent school in France. A few months after she started classes she won a theatre competition that awarded her two-years of free classes from the school’s top teachers. Her first professional acting job was in Après lui (2007) were she performed with Catherine Deneuve. Her first starring role came in 2009 in Loup. There was a scene in the film where Pom’s character had to push someone down the stairs but accidentally fell down the stairs herself. Director Gaël Morel ended up keeping that shot in the film.
Pom made her Hollywood debut in Spike Lee’s 2013 remake of Oldboy. She played Haeng-Bok the bodyguard of the main antagonist. Pom was a fan of the original film and began to take boxing lessons to prepare for her audition. She trained for three hours a day for two months to prepare for her fight with the film’s lead Josh Brolin. It was also Pom who came up with her character’s name, which is Korean for “happiness,” after Spike Lee asked her to research possible names for the character.
After Oldboy, Pom moved to Los Angeles and began to pursue more English speaking roles. She continued to study martial arts and as of 2014 she has a purple belt in taekwondo. She starred in 2015’s Hacker’s Game, where she got to showcase her martial arts again. Pom also supplied her own wardrobe and did her own makeup due to the film’s small budget. It was her idea to dye her character’s hair purple, something the directors originally protested but eventually came around too.
In 2017 she joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Mantis in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2. She reprised the role in last year’s Avengers: Infinity War and well… who knows what will happen now.
At her panel, Pom said of her character Mantis it was “refreshing to have a new take on a superhero character.” She said that Mantis is relatable to a lot of people because she isn’t sure of herself, a contrast to many of the other Marvel characters who are confident in themselves and their abilities. When she was asked if she’d like to have Mantis’ power for a day she exclaimed: “ahhh, that’s so scary!” Later when asked what superpower she would want to have Pom replied “Something I’d like to do but I don’t think is the smartest answer, but I’d love to teleport myself and not take the airplane and go through customs… But I need a plus one and luggage.”
She said that she was really nervous at the first table read for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as the cast all knew each other already and had done a film together. They were all very welcoming and nice and down to Earth. Out of all the cast, she bonded the most with Karen Gillan (Nebula). “She’s my buddy, I love her!” It was easier to hang out with each other as their lives were very similar. In between takes, they would help each other with audition tapes. “Some actresses are all about themselves and she’s different, I love her.”
Her favourite moment on the set of Guardians was when Chris Pratt was doing a speech during Yondu’s funeral. If you’ve seen the film you know how emotional a scene this is, while Chris was making his speech they realized that Michael Rooker was snoring! Another favourite moment was when they shot the scene between her and Bautista which involved Mantis having to touch Drax. They did the scene so many times his prosthetics and makeup started to feel like “cheese” between her fingers. Her own look on the film was created using a mix of prosthetics and CGI and she described it “like two nipples on my forehead.”
When asked about the now famous line she said in Avengers: Infinity War – “kick names, take ass.” Pom explained that at first, she didn’t understand why people were laughing. She ended up asking her dialect coach why it was so funny. “We don’t really have that in French,” she explained. She then tried to find a similar phrase in French, sadly my public school French left much to be desired but whatever she said it sounded nice. “Prendre le cul, donner des noms?”
She also says she had to “fight to read the [Avengers: Infinity War] script.” She constantly hassled the Russo brothers until they sent her one, but she wasn’t sure if it was the real one or if they sent her one just to get her to stop. Normally for shooting they would just get the scenes that involved their characters.
Partway through the panel, Pom laughed and said “I feel awkward talking about myself. It’s weird. I hope I’m not too boring.” Not even close to boring.
She thinks it’s exciting to see more female superheroes because while princess stories can be beautiful she also finds them boring. Pom is also all for a Marvel movie that just features female heroes (Russo brothers, please, please, please!). “I’m dying to do that! I’ve heard some rumours and I’m dying to do that!”
Pom also spoke about being Asian (her mother is Korean and her father was French-Russian) in the film industry. It was difficult for her to get auditions, especially in France. She was always either “too Asian or not Asian enough.” “And then I got the role of an Asian super weirdo. [The industry] is changing and it’s exciting and cool.” She also said that she was really excited to see Gemma Chan in the upcoming Captain Marvel.
The panel ended with Pom being asked if she could travel back in time and give advice to her 16-year-old self what would she say, “Train in martial arts… Don’t be so hard on yourself. I still say that to myself every day, but it’s not working.”
You can follow Pom Klementieff on Twitter and Instagram. You can also catch her in the upcoming film Uncut Gems by the Safdie brothers and maybe… hopefully… Avengers: Endgame? And maybe a Marvel female-fronted film? Come on, make it happen!