It’s a bustle at the London Hotel this morning. The small room is buzzing and then it grows quiet, for only a second before it booms with applause. Three women, who by all appearances, couldn’t be more different from one another enter the room.
The red-head with a sprinkle of freckles leads. She is Karen Gillan, best known for the role of Amy Pond, companion to the Eleventh Doctor, in the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who.
Behind her, a tall, platinum blonde that looks like she just stepped off a Paris Runway, follows. She appeared in The Great Gatsby (2013) as Jordan Baker, a role which she won the AACTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. She is Elizabeth Debicki.
Entering last is break-out star Pom Klementieff.
They take a seat at the table, facing us. They are here to talk about their roles in Disney-Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Without gender, their roles are powerful in the movie. They are focus points that carry the storyline, characters that are complex and ones you love, and perhaps hate.
Karen Gillan is Nebula, sister of Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Nebula is a blue-skinned alien super villain who is not only athletic but brilliant in her strategies.
The Guardians have a new adversary in Vol. 2. Her name is Ayesha. She is the High Priestess of the Sovereigns, who hire Star-Lord, Gamora, and Drax, Rocket, and Baby Groot for a mission. A mission that takes a wrong turn and makes Ayesha an enemy.
Elizabeth Debicki takes on the role of Aeysha.
And then there is Mantis, an alien with big eyes and antennae who is childlike and isn’t cohesive with social norms. Mantis has a power that plays into a larger plot in the movie.
Pom Klementieff is about to make herself a household name in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in her role as Mantis.
Based on the trailers, it is fair to assess Nebula, Ayesha and Mantis are covered in body paint.
Gillan shares that the process to transform from herself to Nebula is quite lengthy.
“It takes about four hours in the morning. I have a character’s skin glued to my face, which is really as close as I could poassibly get with Nebula. It’s pretty cool It’s intense and slightly claustrophobic. Makeup definitely became part of my ritual in terms of getting into character. I did a rehearsal without the makeup and I did not feel like her at all.”
She also gives credit where credit is due.
“An Oscar-Winning makeup artist; it’s amazing!”
Pom joins the conversation.
“My makeup artists are amazing too. We are in competition; we love each other. For me, the makeup process is much easier because Mantis is my skin tones, so it’s more like a beauty makeup. It takes two hours to get completely in character–hair, makeup and clothes. I wear prosthetics on my forehead, just the beginning of the antennas, and then they use CGI to make the antennae bigger.”
Then she talks about the eyes of Mantis.
“I wear contact lenses in my eyes. They are really big and cover my entire eye. I feel kind of claustrophic in them, like I have tunnel vision, which makes me feel like I’m in my own world. It’s a good focus for my character.”
Wrapping up the makeup discussion is Debicki who almost jokingly downplays the process.
“I think I have it easiest beause I sit there and someone paints me. It’s sticky and cold, but I love it. The first day, I thought it was a bit overwhelming. The next day I came to set and said, “Hello” to Zoe, asking her what time she came to work. She said it was three AM. I thought I am never complaining about makeup again, I had a very civil call of six AM!”
“I just had to be very zen; very patient. I plugged into a podcast and listened to Serial. I think the whole process for me is about an hour and a half. The most time-consuming part of me is the gold dress. It’s almost entirely metal. It weighs SO much. It takes about three women to get me into it. We call it the “Ayesha Taco” because the whole bottom of the dress is a big circular metal thing and they would fold it like a taco and then I would walk up the stairs and work myself into it. It feels like a small child hanging on to my back.”
Guardians of the Galaxy has a devoted fandom. Gillian especially understands this with the Nubians. She addresses what it’s like being part of a film with such a fan base.
“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. With things like Dr. Who and Guardians, it just has like this built-in fan base. The fans are so accepting and they’re so passionate, they care about all the decisions you make and you just feel really special for a second. “
Then she gives a deeper insight into her character, Nebula and how we really begin to see a different side of her and why she does the things she does.
“In the first movie we saw Nebula and she was this sort of an evil super villain watching from the sidelines a little bit, but in this movie we really understand why. For me, it’s my job as an actor to be her lawyer and explain to everyone why she is justified in doing these things and I think we achieve that in the movie. It was just so important to me to give Nebula those layers because it’s not really interesting to just have a bad guy for no reason.”
With all sibling rivalries there are fights and in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 we see incredible action fights between Nebula and her sister Gamora. Gillan discusses doing these scenes and stunt doubles.
“I’m not the best fighter in the world, I look like spaghetti; Zoe was amazing! She was giving me all these pointers, like if you turn your head like this and strangle like this, then you’re going to look really cool! 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! It emotional as well, it was physical and emotional this battle between the two sisters and it was just really interesting to me.”
All three women play strong female roles in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in their own way. They each have a different takeaway for young girls who see the movie.
“It’s okay to be imperfect and to not be like any everyone else- to be just maybe weird sometimes. That’s what makes you interesting,“ says Pom.
Dubecki joked, “Well, don’t be like Ayesha. Someone asked me on the red carpet, ‘What similarities are between you and Ayesha?’ and I was like, ‘None! I really hope none.”
On a more serious note she adds,
“She doesn’t take no for an answer. I think the thing about Ayesha is that she is very justified in what she’s doing. She’s very strong. Her moral compass is slightly askew and she’s slightly merciless, but she is strong. She is also quite fallible. The irony is she is genetically modified to be perfect but she is extremely imperfect. Look at Ayesha and then decide to be compassionate.”
See Karen Gillan, Pom Klementieff and Elizabeth Debicki in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 in theaters everywhere May 5th.