When the first trailer for the original Guardians Of The Galaxy hit the screen, virtually no one had any idea what to make of it. There were cool effects, to be sure, and definitely some laughs. But what the hell was “Hooked On A Feeling” doing there on the soundtrack? That idea just seemed absolutely insane, and no one took the film seriously. Until it was released.
Thanks to the efforts of writer/director James Gunn, and a cast that included Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Zoe Saldana as the green-skinned warrior Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax The Destroyer, Bradley Cooper as the voice of the CG-created, gun-toting Rocket Raccoon; and Vin Diesel as the voice of the walking, talking tree, Groot, who managed to create a connection with the audience despite the fact his dialogue consisted of nothing but “I am Groot,” repeated over and over again.
Now, of course, we’re on the verge of Guardians of The Galaxy, Vol. 2, and the family is expanding, actually increasing the number of female characters, much to the delight of the audience. In addition to Saldana reprising her role as Gamora, also back is Karen Gillan as the blue-skinned Nebula, another adopted daughter of uber-villain Thanos, raised as Gamora’s sister and feeling little more than jealousy and hatred towards her. Then there’s Pom Klementieff as Mantis, a new member of the Guardians who has empathic powers and was raised by Ego, who….well, that would be telling. And, finally, there’s Elizabeth Debicki as Ayesha, described as the golden High Priestess and the leader of the Sovereign people.
While each of the characters, and the actors associated with them, are worthy of discussion (and eventually they will be), the focus here is on the lovely female cast members of Guardians Of The Galaxy with the following interviews.
Question: How would you describe Gamora’s arc in Guardians 2?
Zoe Saldana: “It would have to be through Queen’s ‘Break Free.’ You know, she's been on a mission to be free or die 'cause she's over it. So there's a selfish essence to her and it makes her prerogative very personal versus in this one where she's on a path of redemption. So she wants to be very present in trying to do good. I think that Gamora's realizing that Nebula's strength and power is just greater than hers, so she wants to be able to inspire Nebula to not put bad feelings into what's already hers, which is her power, because then that's a Molotov cocktail. It's a really dangerous weapon there.”
Question: So how would you describe their relationship?
Zoe Saldana: “Gamora's the one that kind of senses it's your job as an older sibling to do that; that making peace with my sister is a part of the redemption. She's the only family member I'll ever know. There's no one other like me. Thanos made sure that he wiped that out. So if Nebula's all I have, then she's worth the sacrifice, and the work, and the pain. I feel like that's where Gamora's at, when it comes to her and her sister.”
Question: Then, of course, there’s the relationship between Gamora and Quill…
Zoe Saldana: “I think he likes her more than she likes him, for sure, but I don't think it's because he's not the one for her. I just don't think she's thought that far, about love for herself. Right now she's trying to make amends with all the wrong that she's done, and the last thing that she feels she's going to deserve is love from a partner. So Quill takes the position in her brain as just a family member. It's just he knows what he wants and he envisioned it first. He doesn't compromise the integrity of what he wants to do, of his work, and his craft, and his voice. He's very skilled and he has fun.”
Question: What is the best way to describe Guardians 2?
Zoe Saldana: “I think it’s all the issues that we're going to be tackling; emotional issues like our relationships with our fathers, our relationships with our friends, our siblings. What is family to you? And growing up, there's a lot of that, but it's more like a young adult, like growing up as an adult. Not just, like, ‘Oh, I was a kid first and now I'm an adult.’ It's you're an adult, how do you grow, how do you evolve from this adult that you are into a better one? I love that about Guardians, it gives it a very human essence.”
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Mantis (Pom Klementieff)
Question: What appealed to you about the character of Mantis?
Pom Klementieff: “I love the character so much. When I had the audition, I had no idea how big the character would be. I didn't know it would be that big, but I think it's a really moving and special character.
Question: Marvel’s Kevin Feige has said that there is a relationship of sorts that builds between Mantis and Drax…
Pom Klementieff: “She develops a friendship with him and I think they get along, because they have a weird sense of things and they don't really have the same sense of humor, you know, than everyone else, so they just get along. Yeah. I think what is interesting is that they become friends because of that.”
Question: What was it like working with Kurt Russell?
Pom Klementieff: “He's amazing. He's really funny and generous, down to earth, and really easy to work with. We had a great time. It's amazing to work with a legend.”
Question: Same thing regarding writer/director James Gunn.
Pom Klementieff: “You know, I saw the first movie and I loved it so much. I thought it was so funny, and so moving. When I knew that he wrote the second movie and that he was directing it, it was like, "Okay, just trust him." The atmosphere on set was just really, really calm and you just do your work and you feel confident and he pushes you just the right amount.”
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Nebula (Karen Gillan)
Question: Where do we find Nebula in this film?
Karen Gillan: “Nebula was definitely a bad guy in the first Guardians film. That's what I love about her, to be honest. I love that she has this real dark side and I get to explore that, which is really cool. In terms of the second film, she's still a bad guy but we're going to get to understand her motivations for being a bad guy a little bit more. That might not make her such a bad guy anymore, because as soon as we develop empathy for anyone and understand why they're doing the things that they're doing, they don't seem as bad anymore. That's definitely going to happen with Nebula.”
Question: How did you respond when you read the script?
Karen Gillan: “I just read it immediately and I was laughing out loud. I thought this is funnier than the first film and I was crying. There were real tears. I was, like, "Wow." Everything that I loved about the first film is in the second film, but it's just heightened. There's just more of it. I'm also going to say an even better soundtrack this time.”
Question: So just what is the relationship between Nebula and Gamora and what is it like working with Zoe Saldana?
Karen Gillan: “Nebula and Gamora have always had a bit of a turbulent relationship, shall we say. Both of them are suffering from pretty severe daddy issues when their dad is Thanos. In the first film, they've ended on a pretty bad note. They were in a major fight sequence together and then Nebula chops off her hand and escapes. When we meet them in the second film, Nebula is still pretty pissed off at Gamora.”
“The thing about Zoe is I think she really works on instincts, I would say. I feel like she soaks up other people's energy really easily; it’s like she does impressions of people all the time and they're so bang on. If I'm feeling emotional, she really picks up on that, and then hopefully I'm trying to do the same thing, but she's really receptive, I would say, as an actor, and that's really cool.”
Question: And what about the guy who sort of drives this whole thing, James Gunn?
Karen Gillan: “Just to be on set with him is so loose and free and inventive. That's just lovely to work with as an actor, because you feel like you can come up with suggestions, and you're not going to be shut down or laughed at. Well...maybe laughed at a little. He's great. He has this microphone, so it feels like you're getting notes from God, which is really weird initially. Then it's actually just really efficient. He'll be, like, ‘Do it more sultry. Do it funnier. Do it like you're pissed off. Do it like you're funny and hilarious.’ It's just so loose. You don't even have time to think about it, or obsess over it, or overanalyze it. It just feels like a really cool creative experience.”
“I feel like everybody is going to find something in this film that they can connect with and understand, and also it's so funny. People are going to have a really good time and they're going to be entertained and they're going to hear some good music.”
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Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki)
Question: What made you want to do this film?
Elizabeth Debicki: “I watched the first one in the cinema, then I watched it again on DVD. I was ecstatic. I completely didn't expect it. I was so happy to be asked to be involved. I love the first movie. I thought it was hilarious and clever and heart warming and I love the characters. I'd spoken to James Gunn a few times. He's a lovely man and a brilliant director, so I was just so happy to be involved.”
Question: Who is Ayesha?
Elizabeth Debicki: “She is the high priestess of the sovereign planet and she's a very sort of powerful woman within this planet. She runs everything with an iron fist. We're this sort of genetically engineered race of aliens and we're all gold and perfect and born to be physically and mentally impeccable. She's hired the Guardians to protect the Batris from an intergalactic beast.”
Question: How does someone like her view someone like Peter Quill?
Elizabeth Debicki: “It's an interesting thing with Ayesha, because they think they are so superior and they're highly judgmental. Anyone and everybody as far as they're concerned, is sort of inbred and disgusting and filthy and sort of scraping the barrel. So I think the great thing about that exchange with Quill is that she's intrigued by him, but she's repulsed at the same time.”
Question: Was it tough coming up with her look?
Elizabeth Debicki: “She's just this majestic kind of creature. It's all about high maintenance with her. I mean, what our costume designer managed to do was create something that, I mean, I've never seen it really before on screen. I was completely blown away when they were creating it. It's very Elizabethan and Ayesha has these chambermaids. You definitely can't put that outfit on yourself. You get the sense in terms of the ritual that there's sort of eight of them fleeting around her sort of chamber, getting her dressed because it's just this enormous beast of a dress. But it lends her this instant kind of status and otherworldliness. It’s like she's untouchable in that dress.”