Michael Douglas on Ant-Man, Marvel and Technology
When you’re told you’ll be interviewing an acting legend, it takes time to really sink in, at least it did for me. When we found out the list of celebrities we would be interviewing from the Ant-Man movie talent it took some time for it to really sink in that I would be in a room with the Michael Douglas. Honestly it wasn’t until he just walked into the interview room unannounced, and I looked up and started to clap that it dawned on me how epic this was for me and probably everyone else in the room. Mr. Douglas was the first interview during the Marvel Ant-Man press junket and he discussed how he came to the role with us, Marvel, technology and his co-star Corey Stoll, among other things.
When we sat down with Mr. Douglas he hadn’t seen the entire Ant-Man movie yet, he had only seen bits and pieces, we’d already screened the movie and one of the first things on all our mind was how did he get connected to this project. We got right into the questions since we had very limited time with him.
Q: Did you do research to prepare yourself to be Mr. Hank Pym?
“Well, historically I’m not a comic book guy. I was not as a kid. There was one I kind of followed, but since it’s not in the Marvel world, I don’t think on it necessarily. But when they sent me the script, they sent me also a lovely leather bound book with about two years of the Ant Man comics. So before I read the script, I opened that up and sort of familiarized myself with the different characters and a little of the back story.
Ironically for these kind of super comic book, it was more character background than you get in most parts you ever play, in terms of, you know, the loss of your wife, the relationship with your daughter. So there was a whole bunch of stuff to actually, you know, play once you read it.”
Q: With the technology in this movie, how is it different than anything you’ve ever done?
“Well one of the exciting things for me about doing this picture is I have never done a special effects movie before. My entire career is kind of actually all contemporary, contemporary story lines except for one movie out of I think 50. It was a World War 2 movie. Everything else was, is contemporary and there weren’t any kind of effects in them, just a green screen. So I was fascinated by that.
There were four shouting units, we were the first unit, then you had the second unit, which was your stunt unit. Your third unit, which was your special effects, your green screen, and then your fourth unit was that macro unit, was shooting these ant, you know, perspective ant shots from all over. Ah, it was , it was fascinating. I’m basically just dealing with the first unit.
In the first unit, we were doing stunts and this and that, but to see how they put four units together using the story boards it was inspirational. And it was a lot faster. I mean, how often too do you get to do a movie where you get to see yourself 30 years younger. [LAUGHING]. You know it was wild. I remember that day when they put these little dots all over my head. I won’t see the screening until Monday, I missed the cast screening. But I saw and when I was doing dubbing for a couple of lines, there’s one scene and they had, had done half, half the scene is with the special effects where they made me younger, and the other half I still have the dots on my face, you know. So it was, it was, it’s hard to explain. It’s been the wildest experience I’ve ever had.”
Q: What was your favorite scene to shoot?
“I know the ones I liked least. [LAUGHING.] Those with the heavy exposition. You know, I had to carry a lot of the exposition of plot in terms of explaining how things worked and everything, and there’s no rhyme or reason for those, you know. You just got to kind of get a momentum going and try to articulate them and, and the fact that Peyton, besides being such a good director was an actor earlier in his life and knew my lines better than I did, was a little intimidating, you know, because if I stumbled or flubbed, he actually knew these technical names where they got the ants names.
But I enjoyed the Pym Technology scenes. I enjoyed seeing this huge picture of me up there on the wall, you know. [LAUGHING.] I was the founder of the company and, and just the beautiful work they did on creating that, the designs of that company. Yeah.”
Q: Who was the greatest joy to work with? Who did you have the most fun with?
“In this picture? Well everybody, I mean we just did a press conference and what I wanted to really say which I didn’t get a chance to, is you know I produce a lot, too, so even when I’m an actor just getting hired in a movie like this as an actor I kind of look at the whole picture. And certainly saw Kevin Feige and the, and the great production team that they had saw the job that they had been working on with the screenplay, was really happy with Peyton Reed as a director.
So those are all elements that you want, love going in strong producing background, script, and your director. Then the entire cast was solid. I think the biggest surprise was Corey. Corey was a great heavy. He was a great villain and he brought it, and the scenes I had with him, he brought much more strength and dynamo than I ever had anticipated.
He was great, and he had this whole subplot of kind of me being his father figure and reaching out for my acceptance, which was like haunting, you know. And, and he played this and it had a real depth to it. Paul, I knew from the beginning and he’s just as easy and wonderful as could be. He’s lovely. And then Evangeline I did not know her range, and so you go wow. There’s, there’s no weak spots here. Everybody’s solid.”
Q: Going into a superhero movie, were you kind of wishing you were getting a costume or a suit?
“Well who’s to say I wasn’t in a few of those Ant-Man suits? Hard to tell with the helmets down. Hank Pym was leading in the 60’s, you know, late 60’s, 70’s, and now at this age, so therefore you’re going to need a replacement. Based upon how you get small that many times, it’s exhausting. And so we had to find somebody of the new generation, you know, to carry that on. So I was happy just for that role and limited amount of action, an action picture is fine by me.”
Q: Paul Rudd’s a funny guy. How was it working with him on set? Was it all laughs?
“Yeah he’s just a sweetest, he’s a lovely guy. He’s very unassuming. Obviously, he did some rewriting on the script and was very helpful. Sometimes I would get frustrated where I’d have one of these five minute long monologues explaining everything, and of course, he would have a one-line punch line. Damn, you get a good laugh and all of that. I go sure. I’m working my ass off. [LAUGHING.]
Yeah, you wrote the script, didn’t you? But he’s got an elfish grin and quality about him. He worked it out, maintaining, staying in shape, and then putting in the whole day. So my heart went out to him he was fabulous. I happened to see his work. Interesting casting on Marvel’s part. Every film is sort of interesting. I mean, Paul now looks to me like Robert did before the first Iron Man, you know, Robert Downey. Also an excellent actor. And I’m sure this is going to be great for Paul.”
Q: Not really having been in, much into comics and things, what really was your motivation for joining the Marvel universe?
“Something different, you know, just basically never having been. Two of my best buddies are Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito, and each of them had a great time as the Joker and as the Penguin. I remember them talking about it and all that. And just never having been offered anything in this realm before when this came up, so this will be great. This will be cool. I was talking to my 14-year-old son all about it, and he was like my agent. He said Dad, you know what? This is a whole new audience for you. [LAUGHING.] I say, oh, thanks, thanks. You’re right, you know, you’re right. I always try to think of doing something different and I was really curious about effects movies and all of that. And so that really was the reason.”
Q: Since this is like the 12th movie in the Marvel cinematic universe, how much time do you spend if any going back through what they’ve already done to see what this was becoming a part of?
“Not much. I mean I got some sense with Ultron sort of before this. We touched on this a little earlier that this is probably going to me more humorous than most all of the Marvel pictures and also Guardians of the Galaxy. Guardians had in the beginning of that, and I think everybody sort of enjoying that part of the picture,and that tone.
I’m surprised by just how many laughs there are, and sort of that element and the idea of going small, you know, rather than trying to compete and go any bigger and bigger has made kind of a big difference. I had not done a lot of research on the whole Marvel history, you know.”
Q: Did you realize you were joining the Marvel universe?
“I was drinking the Kool Aid. [LAUGHING.] I did and it was really interesting and fascinating to see the process and how it works. Early on when we first started, they were consumed with the Avengers coming out, you know. The one in London, made everybody in London and were overlapping and we sort of felt like the orphaned kids for a while there. And then even into our end and then post, they were dealing with all the marketing and everything of the Avengers. But they have an amazing way of, of working it’s a great family.”
Marvel’s Ant-Man opens in theaters July, 17th everywhere. Be sure to check it out opening weekend and get more familiar with Hank Pym and the rest of the Pym Technologies family. Also be sure to check out my Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly Ant-Man interview and check back next week for more from the cast including Corey Stoll, T.I., Michael Pena and David Dastmalchian and my review of the movie.
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Disclosure: I was provided an all expenses paid trip to L.A. for the Ant-Man Event. All opinions expressed are my own. Photo credit Jana S of Merlot Mommy and Louise B of Mom Start and Disney Entertainment.