This summer began with a group of big superheroes (Thor, Hulk, and their Avenger pals) battling to save the world, and next month we get the Fantastic Four coming to our rescue, but in between is a movie about an altogether more everyday guy who becomes a hero: Ant-Man.
Gathered together to chat about the movie – one of the most fun to come out of the Marvel comic universe – are the film’s director, Peyton Reed, and the movie’s stars, Michael Douglas (who plays scientist Hank Pym), Michael Peña (comic relief Luis) and Ant-Man himself, Paul Rudd. Laughing and joking together, the group clearly had fun making a film based on one of Marvel’s more unlikely heroes – an ex-con who finds himself battling bad guys once he puts on the suit that makes him as tiny – and as strong – as an ant.
For Paul Rudd, better known for his roles in comedies like Anchorman and This Is 40, taking on the role of Scott/Ant-Man meant beefing up for the part. “I didn’t do anything fun for a year!” he laughs when asked about his preparation for the role. “I didn’t eat any carbs or sugar, and I basically made health and fitness the focus of my day. I worked with a trainer, I was eating protein and vegetables at very specific times of the day, I didn’t drink any alcohol… and I was miserable to be around for about a year.”
He wasn’t the only one who went through physical changes – costar Michael Douglas, thanks to the wonder of CGI, got to perform one scene as a three decades-younger version of himself. “It was incredible seeing myself 30 years younger at the beginning of the movie,” he jokes, “I look like I did in Romancing The Stone! I’m all for a prequel now!”
For 70-year-old Douglas, looking suave and every inch the movie star as he jokes with his costars, appearing in a movie based on a comic book was something completely new. “I was excited when they came to me [and offered me the part] as I had never done anything in this milieu,” he says. “My entire career is contemporary based, not by choice but by chance. All the pictures I have done except one in 40 years have been contemporary, and I had never done an effects movie. As a producer [as well as an actor] I was curious how this whole thing went together. I have tremendous respect for Peyton keeping everything together because as we were filming as actors there was someone doing special effects, stunts, people doing ant point of views, so to juggle all of that is quite impressive.”
He pauses “And I have a great appreciation for actors working with green screen [when computer graphics are added later], cos there ain’t anything there!”
Douglas wasn’t a comic book fan before he accepted the role, either. “I didn’t know anything about Ant-Man. The producers were kind enough to send me the movie script along with two years of Ant-Man comics that I digested. I looked through the comics and there’s [my character] Hank Pym, brilliant scientist, who has lost his wife – I found there was more back story for Hank than in many of the more reality based movies I’ve done, so I had a pretty good blueprint to follow.”
Michael Peña, meanwhile, based his character of Luis on someone he knew rather than a comic book character. While his character is one of the funnier aspects of the movie, he took the role seriously knowing how important it would be to at least one person in his life. “I have been reading comics to my son since he was 1 – not hardcore stuff like The Punisher, only the kid friendly stuff! – and now he’s older, he’s a big fan. The thing he said to me when he knew I was joining the Marvel Universe in Ant-Man was: “Dad, please don’t mess it up!”
Rudd and director Peyton Reed, meanwhile, found that they developed a certain respect for the movie’s other costars – the ants. “Last week I was standing by the sink at home and some ants started walking towards to coffee maker,” he laughs. “In an earlier time I would have given them a little flick, but now I absolutely let them do what they want to do!”
Reed agrees. “I’ve always respected ants but I have a new level of respect since making Ant-Man.” He smiles. “And it’s important to note that no ants whatsoever were harmed in the making of this movie…”
For our review of Ant-Man, which opens in the UK on July 17, visit Movies4Kids.