One of my favorite things about Marvel comics is the feature of strong, independent women in their storylines. In the new Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the prominence of strong, powerful women is prevalent and something one can't overlook. As a mother of three young girls who are also comic lovers, this movie holds a place in my heart for many reasons, but the characterization of women with strength is certainly one of them.
On a trip to Los Angeles last month to see the red carpet premiere of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and interview the cast and talent behind the new film, I had the chance to interview Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff, and Elizabeth Debicki on their roles as Nebula, Mantis, and Ayesha (respectively) in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
When they walked into our interview room Pom noted that we were a room of only women, playing off the themes of strong, powerful women. I was pretty excited to interview this triad of women, but I was especially excited to interview Karen Gillan because you all know I'm a comic nerd and Dr. Who is just one of a zillion shows I watch on TV. I'd secretly love to see her become a female Dr. Who.
Read on to see what they had to say about make-up, costumes, and the fandom.
On the elaborate make-up process
Karen: Well, mine takes about 4 hours in the morning, and essentially I have the character’s skin glued to my face, which is really as close as I could possibly get to her, which is pretty cool. And it's kind of intense and slightly claustrophobic, and it's definitely become like part of my ritual, in terms of like getting into character. One time I did a rehearsal without the makeup, and I did not feel like her at all, so it's sort of become like a vital part of the process for me, which is kind of cool.
Pom: For me it's much easier because it's my skin tones, it's like a beauty makeup in a way. And so I need 2 hours to get completely ready, hair makeup, and clothes. Basically I wear a prosthetics on my forehead it's just the beginning of the antennas, and then with the CGI they make it much bigger. So yeah the makeup artists are so talented, I mean like yours like won an Oscar.
I wear contact lenses in my eyes so really big ones that cover my whole eye. You know, it's like there's no white in my eye almost. And so same, I feel like kind of claustrophobic yeah I have tunnel vision, so it makes me feel like in my own world, which is kind of good for the character, too. So yeah, and the antennas I kind of forget about them, and people are like, ‘Oh you have something weird on your forehead,' but me I'm just like, ‘Yeah, whatever.'
Elizabeth: I think I've got it the easiest because I just sort of sit there and someone paints me, and it's kind of sticky and cold, but I love it. The first day I thought, you know, it was a bit overwhelming the whole paint situation. And then I came to set, and I said hi to Zoe, and I said, ‘What time did you come to work?' and she said like 3 AM. And I had a very civil call of like 6 AM. And then I thought I am never ever complaining about makeup ever again. So and I also asked her for some tips.
And she said you just have to be very Zen, just be very patient. So I would just sort of plug into a podcast. I think it's about an hour and a half, and then with the wig cap, as well. And then actually for me, the most time consuming and hectic part of Ayesha is the costume and that gold dress is almost entirely metal. And it weighs so much.
And it takes about three women to—we used to call it the ‘Ayesha Taco' because the whole bottom of the dress is like a great big circular metal thing and they would fold it up like a taco and then I would walk up the stairs. And she sort of gets, wherever I get placed, that's where I am for the day. And someone said, ‘What does it feel like?' I said, ‘It feels like a small child is hanging onto my back.'
The bustle is so huge. It informs who you are and how you feel, and for Ayesha, too, the choice to be that creature and the presence she wants to put out into the world is so much the hair and makeup and the costumes.
On being a part of the Marvel Universe that has such a devoted fandom, similarly with the Whovians
Karen: It's such a cool sensation actually to be part of something that people actually care about because that's not always the case, usually you're trying so hard to just make people care about your project. You know, but with things like ‘Dr. Who' and this, I mean it just has like this built in fan base and they're just so accepting and they're so passionate, they just like they care about all the decisions you make and you just feel like really special for a second.
On seeing the other side of Nebula and the importance of the audience seeing that she's not a bad person.
Karen: Yes, thank you. In the first movie we saw her and she was this sort of evil super villain watching from the sidelines a little bit, but in this movie we really understand why. And for me like it's my job as an actor to sort of be her lawyer and explain to everyone like why she is justified in doing these things, and I think we achieve that in the movie, which is really cool. And it was just so important to me to give her those layers, because it's not really interesting to just have a bad guy for no reason.
One filming the huge Nebula/Gamora fight scene the use of stunt doubles
Karen: That was amazing fun actually, and I'm not the best fighter in the world, I kind of looked like spaghetti, and Zoe was amazing and so she was just giving me all these pointers, and she was like, ‘If you turn your head like this and strangle like this, then you're going to look really cool,' so it was great, I mean so it was great, I really enjoyed it, I did a version of all the stunts and then an amazing stunt double came in and made me look cooler and it was cool because it was emotional as well, it was physical and emotional this battle between the two sisters and it was just really interesting to me.
On Mantis being insulted by Drax all the time
Pom: It was really funny but I had to not laugh, just laughing inside, no it's fun. She's innocent, she's like a child so whatever he tells her she's like okay, if you say so, you know?
On what they want young girls to take away from their strong female characters
Pom: That it's okay to be imperfect and yeah to not be like any everyone else- to be just maybe weird sometimes and it's you. And that's what makes you interesting.
Elizabeth: Well for Ayesha, don't be like Ayesha. Someone said on the carpet, ‘What similarities are between you and Ayesha?' I'm like, ‘None, I really hope none.'
I think the thing about Ayesha is she is very justified in what she's doing. I mean that little…trash panda steals from her, and she's going to get what she wants back. And I think she's very strong. I suppose her moral compass is slightly askew and she's slightly merciless.
Her strength, and also that I suppose what I like about her is that she isn’t perfect, she's actually quite fallible. Even though I mean the irony is they're genetically modified to be perfect and she's extremely imperfect, so I guess the same thing in a way but yeah, I would say you could look at Ayesha and then decide to be compassionate.
Karen: For me in your character I like seeing a woman in a leadership position, a woman can be the boss absolutely.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 flies into theatres May 5, 2017
I’ve been invited to an all-expenses paid trip to Los Angeles. As always, all opinions are my own.