With her elfin features and platinum bob, Pom Klementieff has the kind of looks you don’t easily forget. Couple that with her magnetic screen presence and a flair for high-wire action, and you’ve got yourself the new decade’s most charismatic superheroine. The 36-year-old actress of French-Russian and South Korean parentage started her career in French indie films before making her way over to Hollywood. In 2013, she scored a breakthrough in Spike Lee’s Oldboy, but it was in 2017 that Klementieff hit the big time, when she joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe—the biggest franchise in entertainment—as Mantis, first in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and then in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. As the lovable but formidable alien, she got to flex both her action and comedic chops, earning her a legion of fans along the way.
Things have been good for Klementieff for the past few years, but this and the next two are shaping up to be supersonic. She has three Marvel films in the pipeline—Thor: Love and Thunder, Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3—and not one, but two Mission: Impossible films slated for release in 2023 and 2024. Despite her frenetic schedule, Klementieff makes time for this cover shoot. Landing in London at 6am, she whizzes straight to set, where she spends the entire day executing high kicks, splits, pull-ups and planks—all while dressed in clouds of pink marabou and purple taffeta. She’s super chill, completely down-to-earth—no airs, no manager on set—and works the camera like a dream. Here, she talks to us about fashion, film and her fighter’s spirit.
What’s your relationship with fashion like?
I love having fun with the way I dress, but I love being functional as well, so I veer towards more comfortable things in real life. But when I go to an event, I like to just create, take risks, do different things. It depends on the mood; it changes all the time. What I wore to amfAR [Gala Cannes 2022], which was my last big event, was probably the most revealing dress I’ve ever worn. It was fun, but now that I’ve done that, I don’t think I’m going to wear something so revealing for a while.
Because it was too sexy?
I don’t usually go for a sexy vibe. I don’t think it’s the most interesting way of dressing. Sexy is something you either have in you or you don’t—you can be fully covered and still be sexy and feel sexy. It’s about the energy, an attitude; it’s something you can’t really pinpoint. I think it’s more interesting if someone is sexy but it’s the energy that’s sexy, instead of someone who is trying too hard and showing too much. Of course, it’s also fun to reveal sometimes in a beautiful, interesting way.
What’s the most fulfilling thing about what you do?
I love the freedom and the independence that come with acting. I love the perpetual evolution of the journey—it’s like always going on an adventure. The fulfilment also comes from working with people. When you get the chance to work with talented people and people you admire, that’s really a gift; to be able to create beautiful things with people who inspire you.
What draws you to particular roles and stories?
The ability to create and to challenge myself. It’s nice because now, I have a choice in what I want to take on—that was not always the case. So hopefully, I get to do challenging and exciting things that are different from what I’ve done before. It’s always about learning new things, about making your life richer and your experiences more universal. All these things open your mind and your world, so you aren’t just stuck in the same thing.
Is there a particular genre or role you’d love to tackle?
I think I’m driven more by working with the greats; talented people whom I really admire. I love doing action movies. I want to do more of those. But it’s not just about action. There are good action movies and there are bad action movies. I’d rather not do an action movie if it’s bad. Since I have a choice at the moment, I’d like to do completely different things: Independent movies, working with directors from all around the world, comedy, drama … I’m open to all kinds of possibilities and meetings and experiences.
What excites you about the industry today?
What excites me is all the possibilities for women and people who don’t happen to be Caucasian. But it’s also always a fight. I always ask for more and try to fight for that in an elegant way. Basically, you don’t get it if you don’t ask [for it].
Have you always been a fighter?
Not at all. It’s something that you have to learn, as a woman especially. In my family, when I was little, we would never talk back, or there would be certain things we don’t talk about. I think [it’s important to talk about things]. If you don’t, nothing changes. But the change also has to come from you—not just from the people around you, or you waiting for things to happen. It’s a process. I don’t think it happens overnight.
Was there a trigger that caused this shift in your mentality?
There are definitely triggers. You see people around you asking for things and you go, oh, maybe I should do that too. But it’s also your own personal journey. I know I’m not the same person now as I was at 20. I also know that everything is connected to my fight training and martial arts training. It makes you stronger not just physically, but also emotionally and mentally. It’s not about getting abs and getting ripped. I mean, that’s great too, to look good and to feel healthy, but it’s also about making your mind stronger. When you have that, it bleeds into other parts of your life.
Are you a goal setter or a go-with-the-flow kind of person?
I think I’m a combination of both. I’m very image-driven, so it’s more like I have a mood board in my head. I want horses in my life, so I keep saving pictures of horses; I have skydiving videos because I want to skydive more, now that I got my licence. My screen saver is a [photo of a] motorcycle because I want to ride one like that at some point. I don’t have to do them right away, but they’re somewhere in my mind. But I’m not so square where I go, oh, I must do this in five years because I might be dead in five years, you know? It’s more about the journey there. And sometimes, your desires change also. It’s nice to be flexible and not be like, this is the plan and I’m not doing anything else. No, no, no; life is complicated and beautiful. You have to be able to adapt.
All jewellery worn throughout the shoot are by Bvlgari
Photographed by Stef Galea
Creative direction by Windy Aulia
Styled by Christopher Maul
Makeup: Kirstin Piggott/ Julian Watson Agency using Westman Atelier
Hair: Marcia Lee/One Represents
Manicure: Julia Babbage
Digital technician: Adam Richardson
Set design: Hana Al Sayed
Photographer’s assistants: Michael Furlonger; Millie Noble
Stylist’s assistant: Lauren Heaver
Set designer’s assistant: Sammie Sprerring
Gymnasts: Tania Dimbelolo; Victoria Flintstone Skillen
Special thanks to Claire Rothstein