Story by Ethel Navales
Although American audiences may not recognize her yet, 27-year-old actress Pom Klementieff has already made quite a name for herself in France. Born in Canada to a Korean mother and French-Russian father, Klementieff lived in various locations, including Africa, before settling in France where her career took off. The actress has notable works under her name, but her supporting role in Spike Lee’s much-anticipated remake of the 2003 Korean cult film by Chan-wook Park, Oldboy, arguably takes the cake.
In Oldboy, Klementieff plays a woman named Haeng-Bok, and if you ask the actress if she’s anything like her, she will only respond, “My character and I have the same shoe size, 6.” Indeed, a quick Google search only confirms that the character remains an enigmatic figure. “The only thing I can tell you is that [Haeng-Bok] is never very far from the villain, and she is a mysterious character,” says Klementieff. One thing she does reveal is the martial arts training she endured to play the role. She trained for hours a day and proudly points out, “I loved it; I was kicking so much that I lost a toenail at the end of shooting.” In fact, she was given the nickname “The Pominator,” something that made her laugh so hard that she put it on her license plate.
But it wasn’t just martial arts that made this role a challenge; Klementieff had to delve into some personal demons during filming. “For the last scene I had to shoot, I had to do something strangely connected to my brother’s death in real life,” she says cryptically. “It was stressing me out during rehearsals, but I thought it would be fine. When we finally shot this scene, I burst into tears and yelled. Sometimes you can’t control your body — it just lets go, and it was very cathartic. The scene became an homage to him.”
Despite the emotional and physical difficulties, or perhaps because of it, Klementieff says she’s decided to pursue her acting career in America. “The roles I’m auditioning for here in the U.S. are 20 times more interesting than those I had back in France! Asians are less represented in movies in France. It’s changing little by little, but here in L.A., there is a big Asian community.”
Get ready to see more of Klementieff. She just wrapped the independent film The Hackers with Cyril Morin, where she sported purple hair for “a love story between two computer hackers who get caught up in manipulation.” And once Oldboy hits theaters on November 27, we just may have a new starlet on our hands. As for the various actors and directors that she would like to work for in the future, Klementieff excitedly lists Martin Scorsese, Chan-wook Park, Christopher Nolan and many more. She jokes, “It makes me laugh each time I’m asked [who I would like to work with]. It paralyzes me, like when I’m asked ‘What do you want for Christmas?’”
This story was originally published in our Fall 2013 issue. Get your copy here.