One of the big changes in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (in theaters tomorrow 5/5!) is the huge presence of strong female characters. In the first film we saw sisters Nebula and Gamora, who are both strong in their own ways. The new installment adds Mantis and Ayesha, both with important and powerful roles in the lives of the Guardians. If you are keeping count we’ve doubled the girl-power.

See What Zoe Saldana Has To Say About Being Gamora

Pom Klementieff plays Mantis, an unassuming bug-like alien creature and right hand to Ego (Kurt Russell). Elizabeth Debicki is Ayesha, the perfectly golden super-villain with an army of followers. Karen Gillan returns as Nebula, who’s story deepens in this latest installment.

One thing I can say about these women – they became a family on set.

photo: Louise Bishop/Momstart

On Nebula

Karen: In the first movie we saw her and she was this sort of evil super villain watching from the sidelines a little bit, but in this movie we really understand why.  And for me it’s my job as an actor to sort of be her lawyer and explain to everyone why she is justified in doing these things and I think we achieve that in the movie, which is really cool. And it was just so important to me to give her those layers, because it’s not really interesting to just have a bad guy for no reason.  

 Zoe was amazing and so she was just giving me all these pointers [for fight scenes], and she was like if you turn your head like this and strangle like this, then you’re going to look really cool and I was like yeah so it was great. It was cool because it was emotional as well, it was physical and emotional this battle between the two sisters and it was just really interesting to me.

photo: Louise Bishop/Momstart

On Mantis

Pom: She’s innocent, she’s like a child so whatever Drax tells her she’s like okay, if you say so, you know?  It’s okay to be imperfect and to not be like any everyone else- to be just maybe weird sometimes and it’s you.  And that’s what makes you interesting.  I just wanted her to be like an insect kind of like her position and she’s kind of like nervous so she cleans her hands like a preying mantis or like Mr. Burns in The Simpsons. 

photo: Louise Bishop/Momstart

On Ayesha

Elizabeth: I think the thing about Ayesha is she is very justified in what she’s doing.  She’s very strong.  I suppose her moral compass is slightly askew and she’s slightly merciless.  What I like about her is that she isn’t perfect, she’s actually quite fallible.  The irony is they’re genetically modified to be perfect and she’s extremely imperfect.  I would say you could look at Ayesha and then decide to be compassionate.

The Makeup Process

Karen: Well mine takes about four hours in the morning, and essentially I have the character’s skin glued to my face, which is really as close as I could possibly get to her which is pretty cool.  And it’s kind of intense and slightly claustrophobic. It’s definitely become like part of my ritual, in terms of getting into character.  Like one time I did a rehearsal without the makeup and I did not feel like her at all, so it’s sort of become like a vital part of the process for me which is kind of cool.  

Pom: For me it’s much easier because it’s my skin tones, so it’s like a beauty makeup in a way.  And so I need two hours to get completely ready, hair makeup and clothes.  I wear a prosthetic on my forehead it’s just the beginning of the antennas, and then with the CGI they make it much bigger. I wear contact lenses in my eyes so really big ones that cover my whole eye.  I have tunnel vision, so it makes me feel like I’m in my own world, which is kind of good for the character too. 

Elizabeth: I think I’ve got it the easiest because I just sit there and someone paints me. It’s kind of sticky and cold and but I love it- the first day I thought it was a bit overwhelming, the whole paint situation.  And then I came to set and I said hi to Zoe, and I said what time did you come to work and she said like 3AM.  And I had a very civil call of like 6AM.  And then I thought I am never ever complaining about makeup ever again.  So and I also asked her for some tips. And she said you just have to be very Zen, just be very patient.  So I would just sort of plug into a podcast. I think it’s about an hour and a half with the wig cap as well.  Actually for me the most time consuming and hectic part of Ayesha is the costume. That gold dress is almost entirely metal.  And it weighs so much. We used to call it the Ayesha Taco because the whole bottom of the dress is like a great big circular metal thing. They would fold it up like a taco and then I would walk up the stairs. It feels like a small child is hanging onto my back. The bustle is so huge. For Ayesha, the choice to be that creature and the presence she wants to put out into the world is so much in the hair and makeup and the costumes.

photo: Louise Bishop/Momstart

On Being Part of the Marvel Family

Karen: 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.  But with things like Dr. Who and this, it just has like this built in fan base and they’re just so accepting and they’re so passionate, they just like they care about all the decisions you make and you just feel like really special for a second.

Elizabeth: It’s huge privilege as an actor to be a part of something that people really want to see and that they care so deeply about.  And I suppose the first interaction I had with it was at Comic-Con last year. There’s so many people there and it’s sort of like pure joy that just shoots out and it’s incredible.  I found it very overwhelming and I sort of kept getting very emotional in interviews like just after, because it’s rare in life to be a part of something that people love so much and they care so much about.  

photo: Louise Bishop/Momstart

Pom: I think it’s not just a Marvel movie, it’s a James Gunn., I think he’s such a genius. And he really reinvented the super hero movie, he made it something really human. And it really talks about family, there is action, it’s also hilarious, and it’s also so moving and heart breaking it’s so many things at the same time. I mean it’s so many emotions I think and I think it’s really special.  

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 is in theaters TOMORROW May 5th