Press Conference: Ant-Man

by Daniel Goodwin on 16/07/2015

ant man

This week sees the release of director Peyton Reed’s Ant-Man: a zany Marvel behemoth that cleverly weaves comedy and heist movie attributes into their trademark bombardment of vibrant visuals and barnstorming action. New Empress caught up with the film’s key players at a press conference in London to talk about working for Marvel on the film after original director Edgar Wright’s departure, conjuring their characters and what the future holds for the mighty film studio.

Peyton Reed (Director): When I came on board as director, Adam McKay and Paul Rudd were starting the re-writes. Adam and I bonded over the fact that we grew up reading comics and there were some elements in them that had not made their way into Edgar Wright and Joe Cornish’s script that we wanted to introduce. We also wanted to take Joe and Edgar’s heist movie motif and add it to the visual language. I think it’s fair to say that none of us would be here and there might not have even been an Ant-Man movie if it weren’t for Edgar and Joe. What they did was genius.

Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/ Ant-Man/ Writer): When we were writing the script and working on the movie both Adam and I felt that if we veered too far from something that doesn’t make sense in the Marvel universe, something that isn’t true to the comic or true to these characters, then Marvel would rein us back in. And the idea of my character Scott Lang, doing everything that he does for his daughter in the comics, is the same imprint we used for him in the film.

Michael Douglas (Hank Pym): I was never a comic kid growing up, more of a black and white television fiend so Marvel were kind enough to send me the script of Ant-Man along with a leather bound copy of two years worth of comics which I digested. I was looking through them and thinking my goodness here’s my character, Hank Pym: very brilliant, widowed scientist and warrior who created this incredible factory and Pym foundation technology. There was more backstory for this character than any of the more reality-based movies that I had done so I had a pretty good blue print to follow.

Peyton Reed (Director): Hank Pym in the comics is such a complicated character and we had a very complicated man playing that character (Michael Douglas) who has made a career out of playing characters with a lot of grey area so it was important for me to try and deepen Hank for the film.

Michael Douglas (Hank Pym): As we were filming all together there were people doing special effects, there were stunts and there were also people working with ants which was pretty phenomenal. Being able to juggle all the pieces together was quite impressive. I have a great appreciation for actors who work with green screen because there really isn’t anything there. Talk about having to play make believe. Paul was also an anchor for the entire picture. He made all the other actors around him welcome. He gave himself a lot of good lines but he’s entitled to that.

Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/ Ant-Man/ Writer): I never really thought about that until you said it. I didn’t mean to. Thank you Michael. I had Marvel comics growing up but I was more a casual reader. There was a while I was into The Hulk but primarily because of the TV show. I read some of the Marvel comics but I was more into English comics. My aunt and uncle would send me some from the UK called Beano and Dandy so I grew up with those characters. I was more into Roger the Dodger, Archie and stuff like that.

Michael Peña (Luis): I grew up poor so there was not a lot of comics around for me. But my kid’s going to be seven years old soon and I started reading comics to him when he was one. Not anything like The Punisher but kid friendly stories. Now he knows everything about the Marvel world and before I left to go and do Ant-Man he said: “Dada… don’t mess it up.” There’s not a comic book that I know of called Luis so I’m actually portraying someone in Ant-Man who, in real life, lives in Chicago. He may or may not be a criminal. May or may not be in jail. I cannot say. But his name is Pablo.

Peyton Reed (Director): It’s not the guy who introduced himself at the premiere as your brother?

Michael Peña (Luis): It’s this guy I know who I think is really funny. He complains all the time but he’s totally smiling. He was key to my character. You can’t make him up. I remember about five years ago I said to him “Hey what did you do this weekend?” and he said “Ah I went to jail, dog.”

Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/ Ant-Man/ Writer): I figured, if I’m in really good shape as Scott Lang, I will feel like less of an imposter in my role so I didn’t do anything fun for a year. I ate no carbs or sugar. I worked out. I basically made health and fitness the focus of my day for a very long time. I was eating a lot protein and vegetables, I didn’t drink any alcohol and I was miserable to be around for about a year but I enjoyed having the focus.

Michael Douglas (Hank Pym): Seeing my CG self at the beginning of the movie, made to look thirty years younger, was incredible. I had these little dots all over my face and I had all these lines and then halfway through the scene they disappeared and there I was thirty years ago, Romancing the Stone.

Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/ Ant-Man/ Writer): I watched that two days ago! It was on TV. It was so great to see that again.

Michael Douglas (Hank Pym): I could be up for a prequel myself.

Peyton Reed (Director): I hope audiences will respond to this movie and if we’re fortunate enough to make another Ant-Man I think there’s a lot of story left to tell. There’s also a freedom at Marvel to tonally do whatever we think serves the story best. This happens to be a highly comedic heist movie in terms of its structure and tone but I think there’s a portion of Ant-Man that will always have a comedic component to it. But I like the idea that we can invent an entirely different field for a sequel if we’re fortunate enough to be able to do one.

Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/ Ant-Man/ Writer): Ant-Man 2 will be like a Bergman film. Very quiet, black and white.

Peyton Reed (Director): Yes. We’ll shoot in Sweden and it’s going to be all about Scott’s silence. There are definitely some hints for Scott’s future in Ant-Man and we also know that he is going to appear in Captain America: Civil War, which is very exciting. If you’d have heard Paul’s voice when he finished his first day of shooting on the movie you would know he was very excited.

Paul Rudd (Scott Lang/ Ant-Man/ Writer): Yes. There will be a lot of war in that. But it’s a civil war.

Ant-Man is released on 17 July.

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