(Editor’s note: The following interview contains minor spoilers for “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One.”)
Before new “Mission: Impossible” star Pom Klementieff can start talking about her role as the franchise’s “crazy” new villain, she has only one small chore to attend to: She has to answer to her co-star Simon Pegg. The longtime series star dropped a joke to her a few hours ago (after the New York City premiere), and she’s suddenly reminded that she never replied and she can’t rest until she does. Let’s talk about cast bonding.
That said, the French actress is ready to talk about her latest role in a franchise she’s literally adored since she was a child (she was just ten when the first film came out), which allows the Marvel Cinematic Universe star to tap into to some of his wildest impulses. In “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One,” the seventh film in the beloved action series, Klementieff plays Paris, the wanton companion of Esai Morales’ Gabriel, himself tasked with serving a much higher master (all of them are , of course, obsessed with taking out Tom Cruise’s venerable spy, Ethan Hunt).
In her first outing in the series, the game-for-anything actress leaves quite a mark, as her Paris prowls (under, across, over, etc.) various European hot spots in pursuit of Ethan Hunt and his friends , barely stopping to catch his breath, let alone consider the consequences of riding a bunch of Vespas (or people), snarling his way through insane stunt sequences, and basically having the time of his damn life.
Ahead, Klementieff tells IndieWire about her character creation, is Paris really crazy, her favorite stunt scenes, what lies ahead for the franchise, and the other great summer movie he can’t wait to see.
The following interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
IndieWire: Before you joined the cast of this movie, what was your favorite “Mission: Impossible” movie? Did you have one?
Pom Clementieff: Ooh, that’s tough. I mean, I love “Fallout”. Actually, I love everyone Christopher McQuarrie has directed. I think they are so surprising and edgy, incredible pacing, incredible action.
I always have a soft spot for the former, because it was the former and there’s something nostalgic about it. There are also two French actors, Jean Reno and Emmanuelle Béart. The third one is also great and Philip Seymour Hoffman is just amazing. I miss him. I mean, I miss it in movies. I miss him. I’ve never met him! The second one is really fun too, all motorcycle stuff, like with the doves. There’s something a little more cheesy about it, but still so charming and so good. I love them all.
You had a big part in shaping this character, but where did it start? What were your first meetings like before you got the part?
I had dinner with Christopher McQuarrie, it was just a first meeting. Then a few months later, I had this audition with Tom and McQ and they told me they were looking for an actor and then they built the character around the conversations they have with the actors. They pick a person and then build the character around the person, so it’s different from other movies. It’s usually something that’s written in the script and then you have to put yourself into it In this character.
It has been a very interesting and liberating way to work, but it can also be daunting. It’s like, “Oh my god, what is it? I don’t know.” But you just trust them. They have such incredible taste and elegance and they are such incredible directors that they know. You just have to freestyle and dance. It’s like dancing with them.
The main idea was to give this sense of danger and a lot of pressure against Ethan, so it results in something that seems crazy, but really she just likes riding over Vespas and destroying people. It was very cathartic and also very fun to play, because sometimes you want to do it in real life, but you won’t because you don’t want to go to prison, right?
Also the funny thing about this character is that he can be very quiet and (then) very violent in a split second. I think what I was looking for was to bring something very unexpected, you don’t know how he’s going to react, so he’s actually very scary. At one point in the movie, I just drew a heart on the window (before a fight scene), also unscripted. I came up with the idea and thought it would be interesting. “Oh, he’s going to kill someone, but it’s actually like, oh, a gracious act of love, but he actually smashed their face.” He always looks for the unexpected.
What would you say are his motivations in life? Is she just bullshit?
I think there is a lot of suffering underneath and, of course, no therapy. I am joking! Underneath there is a lot of suffering and a great feeling of betrayal, there is also a little bit of loneliness. It translates into wanting to destroy everything.
What was the first scene you shot for the film?
Oh, my God, that was a long time ago. I think she was in Norway so I think she should have jumped on top of the train. Just do it. You just trust the stunt coordinator, Wade Eastwood, and go for it. It was so much fun racing on top of the moving train. I was humming the song (“Mission: Impossible”) right before the take to just give me a boost.
What was your favorite stunt to shoot?
It was great having an alley fight with Tom. It was very intricate, very precise, and very challenging to shoot because it’s so tight. They were like gluedbut it was fun.
Then there was this scene, where I’m fighting the two guys at the same time, so that was really fun to do. But it’s also hard, because it’s harder to kick in movies, because it’s harder to control and not really hit the person and back away and just have the right distance to make it real, but to not really hurt someone.
Right, because it’s easier to throw a punch.
Yes, it’s much easier. But that’s why they usually punch a lot in action movies, because it’s so much easier. Yeah, so it’s just a quick kick, but you gotta have it This distance and make it sharp enough and fast enough to feel strong, but still controlled. But I like doing it, but it’s hard.
You must have screwed up a bit.
You always have bruises when you make movies and action movies. Sometimes, when you wear harnesses as well, they penetrate your body and thus create bruises. But it’s funny, I like having bruises, it’s like having good memories.
Most audiences in America obviously know you from your Marvel movies, did your Marvel training help prepare you for this or was it a completely different animal?
Yes, Marvel training, but also, I’ve always trained, like stunt training and combat training. Even when I wasn’t making the Marvel movies, just in my “spare time” or whatever that means, I’m always training and learning new skills or improving on things I already know. There is always room for improvement. It’s just like a lifestyle. I mean, it sounds cheesy, but it just is!
Tom gave you skydiving lessons as a closing gift and you’ve gotten super at it, haven’t you?
I love learning new skills and I love to push myself and take risks, so now I’m a bit into skydiving. When I have some free time, I have to go back to skydiving.
And do you also like horse riding?
Yes, I love horses. I’d like to make a film with horses. I keep asking Tom and McQ, “Can I have horses in the movie?” Fucking love horses.
Like Marvel movies, there’s a huge amount of hype surrounding the release. Is it something you think about?
Above all, I’m very grateful to work with such amazing directors, because it’s not just about being in a great film, it’s about such beautiful quality and cinema. They are the directors with such a beautiful vision. Then it happens to be seen by many people, which is even better. But first of all, the movie is amazing. I’ve been a fan of “Mission: Impossible” since I was a kid.
What can fans anticipate for “Part Two”?
I mean, the thing is, Tom and McQ have already filmed the most amazing stunt again for the next one. Then it will blow your mind. But there’s not much I can tell you about the film. I’m really not authorized!
It’s nice to keep a little mystery. Nowadays, everything is so raw and there is hardly any privacy and everyone wants to know everything and reveal everything. It’s just nice to take the time, you’ll see when you see it, when it’s ready and we’ll talk about it, but (it’s nice) to just have a little suspense and something kind of exciting, like oh, you’ll see later, just be patient.
There are many other great movies coming out this summer, which one are you most excited to go see just as an audience member?
I’d like to see “Oppenheimer”. I love Christopher Nolan, so I’m curious about that.
“Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” is now in theaters.