Ant-Man Panel Discussion with the Actors/Filmmakers

Marvel's Ant-Man..Conceptual Artwork of Scott Lang/Ant-Man..Artist: Rodney Fuentebella..? Marvel 2014
Marvel’s Ant-Man..Conceptual Artwork of Scott Lang/Ant-Man..Artist: Rodney Fuentebella. Marvel 2014

It was always clear to the Marvel and Disney team that they were going to feature all the super heroes in one way or another and bring them together.  This has been a long, well planned out oiled machine with multiple phases and multi-mediums to bring all the characters together truly capitalizing on such a massive property as Marvel Comics.

Ant-Man continues the schedule with this being the 12th Marvel film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).  This movies is the introduction of what is actually the first Avenger in a new origins movie that truly is to set him up for many movies to come.  I had the opportunity to attend a panel discussion with much of the cast along with the producer Kevin Feige and director Peyton Reed.  Below are some of the questions and answers given during this panel discussion.

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Paul Rudd (“Scott Lang/Ant-Man”)
Michael Douglas (“Hank Pym”)
Evangeline Lilly (“Hope Van Dyne”)
Corey Stoll (“Darren Cross/Yellowjacket”)
Michael Pena (“Luis Pena”)
T.I. (“Dave”)
David Dastmalchian (“Kurt”)
Peyton Reed (Director)
Kevin Feige (Producer)

MODERATOR: Peyton, how intimidating is to hear Kevin (Piege) say we are going to play with scale, going to do something different, break away from the typical Marvel mold with this project?

PEYTON: Yeah I had no idea what Kevin was talking about. Nothing. There’s a high bar with these Marvel movies and one of these things I really discovered with working with Marvel that I loved was they really have a creative hunger and they don’t really want to repeat themselves.  They encourage these movies to be really videosyncratic and want to think about it man is that it’s pretty weird movie and a great way. It was allowed to be weird so there is a high bar there that can energize everybody.

MODERATOR: What was it about the character (Scott Lang) and the opportunity afforded to you for this film that exited you?

RUDD: Well, there is a lot but the first thing (Evangeline butts in to say “Me”, as if she was the reason, which lead to much laughter) was that it was different than anything that I’ve ever done and I liked the challenge.  I thought it would be an exciting adventure and I enjoyed the fact that when I was cast people went “Huh? Really?” they wouldn’t necessarily think that that Marvel likes to do that and I was thrilled to have the opportunity.

How did you prepare for the role? Did you go back to the source material, was it all in the script, were you a fan of the character before?

RUDD:  Growing up I really didn’t know the character. I did before we ever started shooting read the comics to do a little bit of research and you can get in the mindset as much as possible. There is also all the physical stuff that I wanted to throw myself into to feel as if I could play the part but also be convincing hoping to feel the part more.

Did you enjoy being ripped?

RUDD: *Audience laughter* I enjoyed being able you do shoulder rolls… I was very self-conscious that day of shooting (Referring to a part where they show him with his shirt off).

They went on to joke about his eating habits and how that day he ate “one almond” and Rudd joked that he felt so bloated.

Evangeline without wanting to spoil anything when you say “It’s about damn time” I wonder if you feel that you’re speaking to all women kind?

EVANGELINE: I think there is a lot of excitement in the focus groups already and that the Marvel is really taking female characters very seriously and looking at their lineup and to see that they have great intentions, and for women that came into a predominately male cast I had a great time working with Peyton and the producers on this character because I could see a hunger in them to do right by Hope and their female fans. When I take a role my goal is to have the parents come up to me and say my daughter idolizes that character. That’s are we eating for and especially in this brand. We’re the business of making heroes.

Paul talked about being a hero for his kids now being an Ant-Man and I’m just wondering for you did this kind of boost your stature with your own kids?

DOUGLAS: My 14-year-old reaction was like an agent. You said you dad this open a whole new audience for you. *Laughter* So I took that to her and here I am.

Movie is very funny and Michael Peña you have a lot to do with that. Was it all out on the page or did you bring in some of your own stuff? *Evangeline jokes that none of it was and that he wouldn’t shut up.*

PENA: Yeah I basically wouldn’t shut up. You know characters names were fantastic I been reading Marvel comics and you know there’s a thing with Marvel comics where they have stages for like my kid whose one years old and it gets more sophisticated as time goes on and so my son is like “Don’t mess this up da-da” that made me thoroughly really nervous to be the cool dad but it was Paul that like let’s do things, let’s do stuff, let’s have fun and after the first week it got to be a lot of fun but when it’s too much fun you never know what movie it was. But you know Peyton you did alright.

The idea that you two are both really part of that huge comedic element that gets injected into the film, Michael can you really talk about what excited you about the film about being the ones to bring the funny in Ant-Man?

DAVID DASTMALCHIAN: Terrifying at first for me because time is on that I most comfortable and and then you get show up and then you’re with these guys oh my god I was terrified as a lifelong her comic fan I brought all the knowledge that I know that go in for my character, but this is a totally different character to this world so it was a blast and I showed up the first day and I learned quickly that I just need to hold-on.  The guys are so generous ,just keep throwing me the ball and give me the opportunity to play as long as I didn’t break which was the biggest challenge because these guys are so funny. I would have to hold my knees under the table. 

Pena comes in to joke that he did for a couple of times and then there was for him for the next several moments.

TI: I’m just really happy to be apart of this to be introduced into the Marvel universe to be a part of such a stacked franchise with the cast of such well-trained and highly skilled actors and actresses, I just didn’t want to mess things up and be the contribute anyway I can to the film. Paul is an incredible lead and Michael just the right amount of A-hole… and Peyton created this awesome environment for us to be creative and just do what we thought was right for the scenes. Of course with the legendary Michael Douglas turns out we have the same birthday, what’s up 9/25, but so many amazing experiences that I will take with me going forward and I appreciate the opportunity.

For Mr. Rudd this movie will open 20 years almost to the date since Clueless came out and I can imagine that’s quite the journey to leading man status.  What has this been like for you?

RUDD: I think I just have gratitude and so appreciative to continue to work doing something that I love, not only doing something that I love but working on movies that I love. You know I always try to keep that kind of saying that I would want work on things that I would want to see. A large majority of my grid has been true and I’m just very, very appreciative of that.

Everyone continued to joke asking who didn’t find Paul dreamy in Clueless continuing much laughter and having Paul chime in stating he even fell love with himself in that movie.  A great aspect of Paul was is remained just as funny in person and really continued the personality you would imagine him to have.

This was for Corey Stoll and Paul Rudd, was it comfortable to wear the suits and did you have to slim down  to fit into those suits?

STOLL:You know we have to tried to make it a practical suite. We went through several iterations, just wasn’t working. It ended up being completely CGI an important working out like a fiend to be able to look good in the suit and in the end go to see that behind the scenes footage of me in my pajamas. It slightly less intimidating.

RUDD: I’m biased because I love the suit. I think it’s the coolest looking suit and I loved wearing it.  It was not that uncomfortable and even on my days off even at karaoke… It helped me feel the part with or something that happens when you get in that thing that is inevitable for you to not stand differently. I just felt like Ant-Man in that thing. They keep the soundstages a little bit cooler because it doesn’t breath that well, but the thing was cool and I would catch myself looking in the mirror saying oh this is cool. As far as getting skinnier and trying to fit inside it I didn’t eat anything for about a year, I worked out all the time. I took the Chris Pratt approach and basically eliminated anything fun for about a year.

One lady talked about how a word she had never used for any Marvel film is “adorable”, let’s face it ants are adorable as they have been treated here she wanted to ask Kevin and Peyton with some rewrites what type of research with science and with the ants how much research was done for visual for look of the various types of ants and their various duties and jobs?

KEVIN: There’s an infinitive dance textbook veteran by this guy Edward Wilson who is considered the Antman any thoughts at all the specific types of ants around the world, There’s thousands of them, but there are specific skill sets so what I enjoyed about the movie is that we introduced these four different types of ants… But it was fun because it’s heist movie at its core and instead of it being them doing this, this and this; instead here these ants are doing this and answer doing that. I guarantee this is something you’ve never seen in a movie before. People talk about shrieking an Ant-Man but it’s the other power of being able to control ants that’s the weirder power that I think really will surprise people with the movie. One of the things that Il liked about doing the research was all the things we have the ants do.  The fire ants are architects and build rafts, they do that in real life. The kid in me can go on the internet and see that this is real and it’s a cool aspect of the movie.

If it Ant-Man could be the Jimmy Cricket to any member of the avengers who would be and what would you advise them to do as they’re conscious?

EVANGELINE: I think you should help calm down the Hulk when he is big.

RUDD: You know that’s kind of what I was thinking. That’s kind of what I already had in my head.  I think there is the physical side of calming down the hulk, but I think Scott Lang shares a passion for science and technology that Tony Stark has. He also has specific feelings to them as a whole because he’s aware of the presence from Hank Pym who has his own very specific opinions. But I think I would say Hulk though. Hulk.

When are we going to see Ant-Woman?

KEVIN: I’m going to say there isn’t an ant woman, but maybe there is in the comics but y there is a Wasp.  If you stay through the credits of the movie… Some of you have aleady asked about “it’s about damn time” and you know we have plans for her in the future you will see that not so subtly in this film.

To Rudd, having this father daughter storyline did this give you another level to play with for the character?

RUDD: It the thing I hung the whole thing on. You know you can have a movie with amazing effects and this certainly has that, with visuals and a lot of action, humor, whatever, but whenever you can connect to something it is emotionally resin and that stays with you in a very different way that’s the key to any movie and that’s what I thought about throughout this whole film. It’s what this movies about.

Hank Pym the comics is a really damage guy with damage history. How much of that damage plays into your mindset and plays into your character.

DOUGLAS: Are you suggesting type-casting? I dont know, I wasn’t familiar with Ant-Man before this movie and Kevin and Peyton were kind of enough send me about two years of books to have me keep up on his history and his background, but I think there are echoes of the loss of his wife and the distance between his stunning daughter. Some of the remanence of the elements of that are in the picture.

The father and daughter relationship is a very important element of the movie and I was wondering how did you arrive at that for the storyline? Can you also talk a little about keeping the film upbeat and funny even with this being the premise of the story?

KEVIN/PEYTON: Well that’s wright out of the comics. Scott Lang has a daughter and in the original origin story. In the books it’s tied directly to his desire to help his daughter and thats the reason he directs towards crime in order to do that.  As I said earlier we’ve never had a hero in any of the 11 films leading up to this lose motivation to involve the child so that Felica reason to do this film now. It was very meaningful for us.

… These dual stories about these fathers in various different ways, they are not part of their daughters lives and they have to by the end of this movie repair those relationships and in the case of Hank and Hope they are not going to succeed in this heist unless they repair those relationships.  It’s and important thing that has to happen to succeed highlights.  I liked some of the intimacy about that thematic element.

RUDD: Yeah I agree! I think there’s also another father-son element with Corey and Hank so this whole idea of parents and children throughout the movie I think makes it one of the most relatable

EVANGELINE: Even with Bobby and Abby I thought it was really cool with the step-daughter and father relationships.

COREY: Yeah definitely for me it was totally central when reading the different drafts of the script playing with different types of motivations I think we came to the realization that we are really aware that Darren’s after the the glory of the scientific discovery as well as the money, the fame and the power, but in the end it ends up the small little boy inside that wants his father approval that is so much easier to play than desire for world domination. I can relate to that more.

“Angeline we talked about this a little bit before but have to watch the movie Hope sends out by far as being the biggest badass in entire film so having the opportunity to play character that’s not an distressed waiting to be seen by someone else can you talk about actually getting to play some of that as a form superhero that is not in costume already an example that kind of sets for the girls are watching looking for someone else to relate to?”

EVANGELINE: That was the most exciting thing about this role that while we were filming and doing postproduction there was a lot of buzz on the Internet… in a lot of questions that came my way about this, I could explain that she is actually a really capable and powerful force to be reckoned with and she doesn’t have a superpower, she doesn’t have to put on a fancy suit, and look dorky in it, in my super suit is my power suit that I go to work and I’m a scientist on a chair of the board for a powerful corporation, and I do think that’s a fantastic example for young women.

Marvels actually doing this incredible campaign right now we’re they put out a competition for young women of America to create scientific gadget projects and they’re promoting the masses of scientist for young women and young girls and they put a lot of heart and love into that where last year I was happy to be the face of that campaign playing the role of a female scientist in a world where most of the scientist are men. It’s a great role to play.

ME: The movie features some incredibly unique actions sequences that are definitely different than most films, especially all the Marvel films, because of dealing the ant-sized environment.  Besides the ants being a big challenge, what was the other challenges working in this small environment?

I also had to ask myself, knowing that Paul Rudd was a big Kansas City fan, I had to ask him if he though they were going to win the World Series.  He simply responded with “Yep”.

PEYTON: In terms of the shrinking you know I went back to watch all the shrinking movies as there is a long cinematic history with shrinking with “Incredible Shrinking Man”, “Incredible Shrinking Woman”, “Honey I Shrunk the Kids”, but we were making the infinitive shrinking movie 2015 and sort of drum that was banging here is that it had to look photorealistic.  We can’t have a movie where in the regular world it looked normal and when you shrunk down it looked like an animated movie. It had to look photorealistic.

Jake Morrison who is our digital effects supervisor, we spent a lot of time together and talked how are going to shoot it, what lenses would we use, what does the world look like when you’re down there. When you see dust particles floating around how does the light play. I’m really happy with where we ended up because in a movie like Ant-Man it has to look real and with the ants too was one of the challenges creating ants that looked photo real while giving them some real character and in the case with ant “Anthony”, the idea that we are going to create like a Roy Rogers Trigger or Lone Ranger Silver relationship with Ant-Man because of the comics that’s when the iconic images is of Ant-Man flying an ant and I wanted to embrace that. One of the things about Marvel is that you’re just surrounded by the top top people in all fields but with this they just did some amazing work.

Evangeline came in to ask how do you add sound realism, how do you know what ants sound like?

PEYTON: Well this is great because we did a Dolby “Antmos” mix you know when you shrink down you really want to immerse the audience in this and sound becomes even more immersive when you’re small, I know I’ve been there, but we really had a great ant language the particularly with that bond with Anthony and Scott Lang to have a sound. The geniuses a Skywalker sound we sat there all day and they kind of came up with this language, you know there’s a specific language which you can decode, but please, try.

Kevin is bringing in all this comedy a goal especially after a darker film like Age of Ultron to have a really funny film following that?

KEVIN: I don’t think we set out to say that this is going to be our funniest movie or that this is in a comedy, I don’t look at any of our films necessarily as one thing but we always say humor is a huge element. The concept of people riding ants and some people communicating with ants, and and calling ants Anthony, you have to kind of acknowledge to the audience that we know that this is funny to a certain extent. Even when we cast Paul people wanted know if it is a comedy because you cast a comedian, but we cast the actor that we knew would be a kick ass superhero who happens to be funny. A very very good actor.

RUDD: This panel is good for my head.

KEVIN: When you put these two films together (Ultron and Ant-Man) in this year as always knowing that one could be the antidote of the other.  Coming off of Ultron and being as gargantuan as it was that it would be fun to do something, yes that was funny, but also that was dealt in a very different scale with the same type of thrills and action elements but in a very different way.

PEYTON: Regarding the tip montages in the film (Michael Pena’s most notable parts) it Is a part of the DNA of the movie when Paul and Adam McKay were working on the rewrites that was something one of the things that we look at how we could both do that heist language in terms of the way we shoot the movie. One of his key elements of the heist movie as you know that tip, I need to know that it’s legitimate, so when we’re working with Michael we really liked creating this idea of this character that’s very excitable guy it. Is a very sweet character.

Michael went on to explain how it’s based off a real person he knows.

PENA: I thought I got lucky with the scenes because he literally gave them to me like the night before and I didn’t really know the story very much…

At this time Paul Rudd answered a phone ringing on the table while it was recording the discussion.  He told the caller that they were in the middle of a very important press conference and that they would have to call them back.  After hanging up he told to whomever owned the phone that they can get the recording from anyone of their friends also recording the panel.

Peyton finished up with that these ideas for Michael’s character Luis were always there starting with him making waffles to getting more outlandish into him having fine wine, etc. and they just built on to it mentioning that his tips weren’t always solid and he tends to ramble as he tells these stories.

That concluded the questions for the day. Read the Ant-Man Movie Review here.

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Joel Covey
Joel has been writing for SoCalThrills for the past decade covering entertainment, events, and theater since joining the site. He is a CSUF alum, studying within the Communication and Radio / TV / Film colleges.