Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Avengers Series
May 3, 1986
Currently Known For:
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Avengers Series
May 3, 1986
“It’s crazy that, as women, we are taught to be cute and nice and polite when we should be less nice sometimes.” One of the newest names to take Hollywood by storm, Pom Klementieff is a Canadian-born French actress who attended Paris’s Cours Florent acting school before launching her career in the spotlight in 2007. She got her start in films like Loup (2009), Sleepless Night (2011), and Hacker’s Game (2015) only to catch a huge break in 2017 when she was invited to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Mantis in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017). Recently reprising her role in Marvel’s 2018 blockbuster, Avenger’s: Infinity War, and in the highly anticipated 2019 film Avengers: End Game, let’s take a closer look at the 32-year-old’s early life in Canada and how she landed in Hollywood!
The daughter of a Korean woman and her French-Russian husband, Pom Klementieff came into this world on May 3, 1986 in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada where her father worked as a consul with the French government. She was named in honor of her mother’s Korean heritage as she later explained, “My mom named me Pom because she said it sounded like a combination of Korean words that mean ‘spring’ and ‘tiger.’ So, it’s very unique!”
Because of her father’s demanding job, Klementieff spent only a year in Canada before she discovered her “gypsy soul” as the family briefly settled in Japan and the Ivory Coast, later calling France home. Sadly, the joy Klementieff experienced from traveling was overshadowed when her father died of cancer when she was five years old. Meanwhile, her mother suffered from extreme schizophrenia, which meant she couldn’t care for her young daughter. Klementieff then went to live with her aunt and uncle on her father’s side and enjoyed a happy childhood. Coincidentally, she discovered acting at the age of 16 when she saw a production of South Korean’s revenge odyssey, Oldboy. “I wanted to be inside the film and part of the creative process that made it come to life,” Klementieff said of being bitten by the acting bug.
Despite her passion for acting, Klementieff experienced another huge setback on her 18th birthday when her uncle died unexpectedly. To appease her aunt, she enrolled in law school but had very little interest in the courtroom. “It felt like a pretentious fantasy to say, ‘I want to be an actress,’” she later admitted. “But when I didn’t connect with law, I saw my chance.” Eventually dropping out of law school, Klementieff picked up two part-time jobs as a saleswoman and a waitress before she enrolled in Paris’ prestigious Cours Florent drama school at 19 years old. Weeks later, she won a theater competition and was awarded two years of free tuition that covered an endless array of classes taught by some of the most talented actors in the world. How’s that for beginner’s luck!
After wrapping up her studies at Cours Florent in 2007, Klementieff saw her career slowly take off in French film when, at 21 years old, she made her professional acting debut in the independent film, Aprés lui, starring Catherine Deneuve. While Klementieff had only a minor role in the film as Deneuve’s stepdaughter, she made a lasting impression on the set. During one particular scene, her character was supposed to push someone down a set of stairs; however, Klementieff accidentally fell down the stairs herself. Director Gaël Morel loved the sequence so much that he kept the scene in the final film!
Following her stair-falling debut in Aprés lui in 2007, Klementieff landed her first leading role in the 2009 French film, Loup, which tells the story of reindeer herders in the Siberian mountains. Once again, Klementieff made a huge impression behind the scenes as she bravely stayed at a camp hours away from the nearest village and battled temperatures below zero as she befriended local nomads, rode reindeer, and worked with wolves in the village. It was this work ethic and dedication that landed Klementieff roles in several French films and television series including Pigalle, la nuit (2009), Borderline (2011), Sleepless Night (2011), Delicacy (2011), Love Lasts Three Years (2011), Radiostars (2012), P*** in the Hood (2012), and Paris à tout prix (2013).
After making a name for herself in the French film industry, Klementieff made her way to Hollywood in the mid-2010s after hearing about Spike Lee’s next project, Oldboy, which was the same South Korean film that sparked Klementieff’s interest in acting at the age of 16! Determined to get a spot in the film, Klementieff signed on for boxing and martial arts lessons to gain an advantage for her audition. While her boxing skills certainly impressed Lee, Klementieff’s attire was lacking and Lee asked the young actress to go home and change into something more feminine and add makeup. Doing exactly that, Klementieff gave a stellar second audition and landed a coveted role in the film starring Josh Brolin.
Although Oldboy was a flop at the box office, Klementieff was eager to make it as an actress in Hollywood and left her native France to settle down in Los Angeles permanently. Fortunately, the move proved worthwhile since she landed her next part as a hacker in the 2015 film, Hacker’s Game. The film was extremely low budget and forced Klementieff to pick her own wardrobe and apply her own makeup, neither of which was a big deal since directors encouraged Klementieff to showcase a few of her boxing and martial arts moves in the film.
Like Oldboy, Hacker’s Game wasn’t a huge hit at the box office and marked the first of several flops for Klementieff as she appeared in the 2016 short film Seed before snagging roles in Ingrid Goes West (2017) and Newness (2017). Then, just when Klementieff was at her lowest point, she caught the break of a lifetime when she was invited to audition for the role of Mantis in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s next project, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. “I thought she was such an interesting character. I felt that I never saw a character, in the Marvel universe or in superhero movies, like this,” Klementieff said of why she wanted the role. “I love Nebula and I love Gamora, and they’re badass and strong, but it’s cool to have a different vibe—a female character who is less self-confident and can be a little bit awkward. It’s nice to have diversity.”
Klementieff won the part and set out to make the character her own from Mantis’ antennae to her movements. “They had to do a prosthetic on my forehead to really blend it with my skin, but I forgot about my antennae! I would almost go home with them on. I started wearing them around set just to freak people out,” Klementieff said. “I also wore black contact lenses covering my whole eyes. I was worried that Mantis’ emotions might not come through, so I found physical ways to show how she’s feeling.” Those psychical ways were part of what Klementieff personally brought to the character. “I bring my own imagination and my ideas. It’s personal and people are not going to see that. The way I put my hands together, that’s like a praying mantis or an insect—like Mr. Burns in The Simpsons. I would move my hands in a way I thought a dog would while asking questions.”
Bringing so much of herself to the character, Klementieff was thrilled to win the part but later admitted that she had a little anxiety after reality sunk in that she was now part of the beloved Marvel Universe. “I didn’t know how the other actors would react. It could have been a bad experience, but it was the total opposite. They were really welcoming and adorable. I felt adopted, in a way. And the three girls were so happy to be together—Zoe Saldana, Karen Gillan, and me. The more girls, the happier I am,” Klementieff said. In the end, it was truly a dream come true for the young actress as the film marked her first huge break in American film and launched her to stardom. “I always loved the Marvel movies. It was my dream to one day have superpowers, and that came true,” she said. “Working with director Jim Gunn is the best. He created such interesting characters. You really care about them. If something happens to them, it breaks your heart.”
As Klementieff and Marvel fans expected, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 didn’t disappoint and earned over $683 million at box offices worldwide to become the eighth highest grossing film of 2017. This meant even bigger things for Klementieff who was invited to reprise her role in the 2018 film, Avengers: Infinity War, which was another huge box office success and became the first superhero film to gross over $2 billion worldwide. Prior to the film’s debut, Klementieff set out on a press tour with Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Ruffalo, and a handful of others to promote the film. During the tour, she gushed about the chance to add another woman into the Avengers mix.
“What I love is that there are more female Avengers than ever before in any of the other movies,” Klementieff gushed. “I remember watching the Avengers movies before that feature Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Lizzie Olsen, and Cobie Smulders, and those movies were great, but now, to get to see all those girls and the Guardians girls and the Black Panther girls is awe-inspiring. To see all these women from different backgrounds and different ethnicities and nationalities on screen is really amazing and makes me really happy.”
Adding to that happiness, Klementieff was invited to reprise her role as Mantis in the 2019 film Avengers: End Game and has even heard rumors of an all-female Avengers spinoff. “I think it’s happening but I don’t know definitively. I hope so, though,” Klementieff said when asked about the chance of a spinoff film.
With her recent addition into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the 32-year-old actress certainly has plenty to keep her busy, but that doesn’t keep fans from wondering what she does in her spare time. “I love to train martial arts, box, and life weights,” Klementieff says of her hobbies. “But, I’m actually one of the Avengers who gets to do less action! My character doesn’t need to. She just needs to touch someone to make him or her feel horrible or to hurt him or her, no need to kick and punch.” However, that doesn’t stop Klementieff from training or enjoying her time in Los Angeles, which she happily calls home. In fact, Klementieff remains incredibly humble about her overnight stardom and admits that she still loves to stop and smell the flowers… literally!
“I love checking out the flowers and trees in Los Angeles—it’s a marvel. I’m always surprised by the new flowers that I see in LA. It’s so green! I grew up in the French countryside, so I’m just drawn to this.” Apart from enjoying the landscape, Klementieff is also adding another skill to her list—driving! “When I moved to LA from Paris, I didn’t have my driver’s license. So, I was like, ‘How am I going to do this?’ I’m used to my scooter in Paris. Then a friend told me, ‘Oh, you can get a moped and you don’t need a license for that. Actually, there are moped gangs and you could maybe join one.’ And I was like, ‘Great idea!’ When you have a moped in LA, at every red light, everyone is like, ‘What is this? Tell me more about it.’”
Now an integral part of the Marvel realm, it’s easy to see why fans have fallen in love with Klementieff from her performance as Mantis to her life behind the scenes as a moped-riding LA resident with a knack for acting and the martial arts!