Ant-Man is not your typical Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. Sure, it has Marvel superheroes and villains, but it’s the theme of the story that’s the big difference. The cast of Ant-Man (Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Douglas, Corey Stoll, Michael Peña, Tip “T.I.” Harris, David Dastmalchian, Peyton Reed and Kevin Feige) filled us in on filming the movie, being a role model, the science of ants and getting in shape for the role.
About the character of Ant-Man and thoughts on how he would be an excellent addition to the MCU?
KEVIN FEIGE (Producer): Clearly Ant-Man in the comics is a founding member of the Avengers. I’ve said that we have a big, giant poster of Avengers #1 that has been in all of the various offices we’ve had over the years, and I love looking at that and checking off, yep, yeah, that person’s been in a movie now, we’ve made a movie about that person, made a movie about that person. Ant-Man and Wasp were the two that had been the longest that we haven’t done anything with, so it was always clear that we were going to assemble all the Avengers eventually. And it also was interesting to do a movie, that plays with scale and that plays with action in a very different way than we’ve ever done before, and as I’m sure you all have heard me say many, many times, I like it when all of our films are unique and all of them are different, and all of them can surprise people. Now, this is our 12th film in the Marvel cinematic universe, so it felt time to do something even more unique and even more different, which I think these people have.
Paul comments on how his 9 year old son’s reaction to play Ant-Man.
PAUL RUDD (Scott Lang/Ant-Man): It’s the first thing I’ve ever done, ever, that he is like legitimately jazzed about. He can see it, his friends know about it. We were at Disneyland like two days ago and they have kind of a sneak preview, the Ant-Man event that’s there. We went there and I was sitting next to him, and to see like as a parent the look on my kid’s face when he’s watching this – and I’ll never forget, it’s like as soon as it ended he just looked at me. He’s like, “That’s awesome!” And every time a commercial is on, he’s like, “Dad, Dad, Dad!” And he’s so excited and like I’ve never experienced that, and so it’s so cool to be able to share this with my own family, and especially my son.
Evangeline talks about her character.
EVANGELINE LILLY (Hope Van Dyne): I think that there is a lot of excitement in the focus groups that we’ve seen already, with the female audiences, about this character in general, and about the fact that Marvel are really, really taking female characters very seriously and looking at their lineup you can see that they have great intentions. And as a woman who came into a predominantly male film, I had a great time working with Peyton and with the producers, on this character, because I could see a hunger in them to really, really do right by Hope, and do right by their female fans and the female audience. And you know, when I pick a role, one of the things that I aspire to is that somebody’s parent will come up to me after the film has come out and say, “My daughter idealizes that character. You’re her hero.”
Did this role boost his stature with his kids?
MICHAEL DOUGLAS (Hank Pym): My 14 year old’s reaction was like an agent. He said, “You know, Dad, this could be a whole new audience for you.” So I took that to heart and here I am.
Was it comfortable wearing the suits and how much did you have to slim down or what foods did you have to give up in order to fit in the suits?
COREY STOLL (Darren Cross/Yellowjacket): Well, you know, we tried to make it a practical suit and we went through several iterations, and it just was not working, and so in the end it was completely CGI. And of course I had been working out like a fiend to be able to look good in the suit, and in the end it just turned out to be for the behind-the-stage, behind the scenes footage, of me in, you know, my pajamas, a little.
PAUL RUDD (Scott Lang/Ant-Man): I’m biased because I loved the suit and I think it’s the coolest-looking suit of all of them, and I loved wearing it. It was not that uncomfortable and it helped me feel the part, you know, there’s something that happens when you get in that thing, that it’s inevitable. I would stand differently, I would feel different, I’d feel like Ant-Man in that thing. And you know, they keep the sound stages a little bit cooler, because, you know, it doesn’t really breathe that well. But it was cool. I would just sometimes catch myself as I was – oh, gosh, this thing is amazing-looking. And as far as like, you know, getting skinnier to try and fit in it, I mean, I didn’t eat anything for about a year. I worked out all the time. I took that Chris Pratt approach which is just basically eliminate anything fun for about a year, and that’s a good way to prepare to play, you know, a superhero.
Michael comments on how he got into his character.
MICHAEL PEÑA (Luis): It’s a real person, by the way, that I’m imitating. His name is Pablo, he’s a criminal, not bullshitting at all. Like the guy lives in Chicago. My best friend just flew in, you know, for the premier, and he’s in and out of jail. He’s the kind of guy, swear to god, when I’m like: “What’d you do this weekend?” He’s like: “I went to jail, Dawg.” Like who really says that for a weekend trip, you know what mean
T.I. and David on being part of that huge comedic element that gets injected to the film.
DAVID DASTMALCHIAN (Kurt): Terrifying at first for me, ‘cause that’s not the zone that I’m the most comfortable playing in, and then you get to show up and you’re with these guys. Oh my god, I was terrified, and I’m a lifelonger comic fan, and so I thought like all my knowledge of what I know about comic books is going to go into informing my character. This is a totally new character that isn’t part of that world. So it was a blast.
TIP “T.I.” HARRIS (Dave): I wanted to not mess it up, just come and contribute however I can, man, to the film, and you know, and Paul’s an incredible leader and Michael’s just the right amount of a-hole to where it comes out great on screen.
Were you nervous or anxious about playing the character of Yellowjacket?
COREY STOLL (Darren Cross/Yellowjacket): Yeah, I would have moments of terror, you know, realizing, you know, what a huge audience there was and what a huge, incredibly passionate and well-informed audience there is, but it was just too much fun. Every day I came onto set there was some new piece of art that Peyton would show me, or I would step onto the Pymtech set and see the size of it, and you know, it was just all these dreams of, you know, the 15 year old Corey being realized. And even the civilian costumes that he wears are so outrageously villainous. I had to stop myself grinning from ear to ear every day. It really was, it was awesome.
When are we going to see Ant-Woman?
KEVIN FEIGE (Producer): I’m going to say there’s not an Ant-Woman, but maybe there is somewhere in the comics. But there is a Wasp, we have plans for her in the future and we see that not so subtly in this film.
How much research did you do and how difficult was it, in the visual portrayal of the various types of ants and the various duties and jobs?
PEYTON REED (Director): There’s a definitive ant textbook that’s written by this guy, Edward Wilson, who’s considered the ant man, the actual real ant man – it talks about all the specific types of ants there are in the world and there are thousands of them, but also there are specific skill sets. So one of the things that I loved about the movie is that we introduced, you know, at least four of these specific types of ants. But it was fun because it’s a heist movie, you know, at its core, and instead of sort of like, here’s the guys doing this and this and this, it’s like well here are the ants that are doing this, here are the ants that are doing that, and I guarantee that’s something that you’ve never seen in a movie before. You know, and people talk about the shrinking when they talk about Ant-Man, but it’s the other power, the being able to control ants, that’s the weirder power, that I think is going to really surprise people in the movie. So one of the things I liked about doing research was all the things that we have the ants do, you know, for example, the fire ants, they’re architects, they can make little rafts and ladders, they do that in real life.
The father/daughter relation is an important element in the movie. How did you arrive to that storyline?
KEVIN FEIGE (Producer): Well, that’s right out of the comics. Scott Lang’s character has a daughter named Cassie in the comics and in his original origin story. In the books, it’s tied directly to his desire to help his daughter, and that’s the reason he sort of resorts to crime, to try to do that. So that came right out of the comics and as I said earlier, we’ve never had a hero in any of the 11 films leading up to this who motivation involved a child, or involved a son or a daughter, so that felt, again, like a reason to do this film now, which was very meaningful for us.
In having the opportunity to play a character, where you’re never sitting in distress or waiting to be saved by someone else. Can you talk about actually getting to play someone who’s a full on superhero, even without a costume already, and the example that it sets for the girls who are watching the movie looking for someone else to relate to.
EVANGELINE LILLY (Hope Van Dyne): That was the most exciting thing for me about the role, and you know, of course while we were filming during post-production there was a lot of buzz on the internet – is Evangeline playing the Wasp, and is she a superhero, and I had a lot of questions directed my way about that. And I just couldn’t have felt more comfortable or more happy saying, actually, she is just a really capable, very powerful force to be reckoned with and she doesn’t have a superpower and she doesn’t put on a fancy suit, and look dorky in it. And my super-suit was my power suit that I would go to work in and be a high level scientist and you know, on the chair of the board of a very, very powerful corporation, and I do think that’s a fantastic example for young women. And Marvel are actually doing this incredible campaign right now where they’ve put out a competition to young women in America to create scientific gadget projects and they’re promoting the maths and sciences for young women and young girls, and they’ve put a lot of heart and love into that and they did it a couple years ago also, or last year, was it? And I was happy to be the face for that campaign. You know, playing the role of female scientist in a world where mostly scientists are men is a great role to play.
What were the challenges dealing with the small environment?
PEYTON REED (Director): In terms of the shrinking, you know, I went back and watched all the shrinking movies. There’s a long cinematic history of shrinking: Incredible Shrinking Man, Incredible Shrinking Woman, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, of course, Honey, I Shrunk the Audience Preshow at Disney. Innerspace. All of them. But you know, we were making sort of what would be the definitive shrinking movie of 2015 and the sort of drum I kept banging was it’s got to look photorealistic. We can’t have a movie where, you know, when you’re in the normal world, it’s realistic and when you go down it feels like an animated movie. It had to look photorealistic. And Jake Morrison who is our visual effects supervisor we spent a lot of time together and talked about how we were going to achieve it and how we were going to shoot it, and you know, what lenses we used, what does the world look and sound like when you’re down there? You know, when you see dust particles floating around, how does the light play? And I’m really, really happy with where we ended up because, you know, in a movie like Ant-Man it’s got to look real. And that applied to the ants, too. I mean, that was really one of the challenges is creating ants that looked photoreal, but also giving them some real character and particularly in the case of Antony.
Couple funny moments that happened during the Q&A:
• A person asked a question about Paul going from relative discovery in the movie Clueless to leading man status. Evangeline commented, “Who didn’t have a crush on Paul Rudd in Clueless?” Has it really been almost 20 years since that movie came out?
• Paul was asked, “If Kansas City would win the World Series?” His answer, “Yep.”
• A phone recording the discussion in front of Paul started to ring. He answered it and told the person on the other end that we were in the middle of a press conference and they’ll call you back.
Ant-Man is rated PG-13 and hits theaters, Friday, July 17th.