Each time I have the opportunity to interview Evangeline Lilly, the conversations get better. She's seriously one of the most incredibly talented women in Hollywood. And outside of being incredibly talented, she's sage, intuitive, and insightful. Interviews with Evangeline Lilly are always a breath of fresh air. I walk out of the room, thinking, “Wow! I could listen to her or chat with her all day.” Because she says wise things about life and women in the workplace. One of my favorite moments? Evangeline Lilly talks equality in Ant-Man and the Wasp during our latest interview in Los Angeles.
Equality in Ant-Man and the Wasp
Someone in our group mentioned Evangeline did all the heavy lifting in Ant-Man and the Wasp. And she was very quick to say, no, actually, it was very collaborative. You know how easy it would have been for her to just be like, “Oh, yeah.” But she didn't. She was very clear to give credit where credit was due. We're all very excited that Ant-Man and the Wasp is the first Marvel movie to have a female superhero titled and billed, but Evangeline Lilly makes no mistake that a movie like this takes teamwork.
“Well, I didn't lift a semi-truck. That was Mr. Rudd. And, actually, me and my team of incredible stunt women, the CGI crew, the directors—I mean, it was such a collaborative effort. We did the heavy lifting. This film, almost in a way, I was like, ‘Come on, guys, give Ant-Man a little more credit, he's pretty bad-ass.' But, it was really cool that they really wanted to honor this moment where a female superhero is being titled and billed, and I think Marvel is just absolutely hell bent and passionate right now about representing women as fierce and capable and as equals to men,” Evangeline said. “I think that's the most important thing—is there equality to the message? And I think that having equal billing tells us that right now, in this movie, there is.”
Female Superheroes as Role Models
Evangeline Lilly shared with us how when she was little, she used to want to be Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. She admitted to us she was obsessed with her as a child.
“Partly because it's Michelle Pfeiffer in a skin-tight leather costume, owning it and being fierce as shit. But, also, I think it was because there wasn't a lot to choose from. There just weren't very many female superheroes. It was mostly male superheroes.”
She shared with us how her sisters would pretend to be Spiderman or Batman or whomever else was the superhero du jour. She recounted a very personal story about her son and one of the reasons equality is so important to her.
“I had a moment recently where my 7-year-old son was pretending to be The Wasp. And I still get goosebumps when I tell that story. It chokes me up, because that's a cultural shift, for a little boy to pretend to be a female superhero—this is no small thing,” Evangeline shared with us. “And sometimes, I think we're making a mountain of a molehill because there have been female superheroes in the MCU the whole time—and they're amazing, and they're strong and kickass, and all of those things. But I think what this moment in our culture, with Me Too Times Up is saying we know we've made some progress—and that's great—but we're still not equal, and that's clear by the fact that you've made almost 20 movies and never had a female in the title. So, this is a big moment, and it is a big deal, and I don't want to downplay it. I want to celebrate it and be excited about it.”
On working with one of her childhood role models
Since Evangeline Lilly told us she had been obsessed with Michelle Pfeiffer as a child, of course, we wanted to know more about what it was like to work with her in a movie. Not surprisingly, she said it was a dream to work with Michelle Pfeiffer.
“Because the weird thing is, as an actor—and maybe you guys experience this as journalists now and meeting actors—is that you can be obsessed with someone on the screen, and then you meet them, and they just destroy it for you. And you're just like, ‘I wish I'd never met you',” Evangeline shared about how she feels sometimes meeting other actors. “I'm like, ‘I want you to be perfect,' And that's impossible. Who can live up to that? Michelle can. She can. She's perfect, there are no flaws. She's nice. She's generous. She's smart. She's funny. She's intelligent. She's considerate. She's talented, and of course, she is the hottest 60-year-old you're ever gonna meet. And so playing her daughter was an incredible honor. Also, I had to just bite my tongue, 'cause every day, I wanted to just be like, ‘Can you be my mentor?'”
Evangeline shared her incredible respect for some of the other talent like Michael Douglas, too. In the first Ant-Man, she was kind of unaware of who he was. She explained how she had watched him in Romancing the Stone, and was like, “Cool. Great romance. He's cute.” She was about 8 years old or so, but didn't keep up with his career. She was aware that he was a big movie star, but wasn't big a Michael Douglas fan who watched all of his movies and knew all of his work.
“When I took the job, I was like, ‘Great, Michael Douglas, big name, gonna help the film. It's gonna help our numbers.' And then I started working with him and was like, ‘Oh. Whoa.' He's so good. He's such a charismatic, present, powerful human being that when he starts to perform, he just changes the molecules of the room. You're suddenly transported to the place you're pretending to be, and so when I read the script for the second film, and I found out that I was going to get an enormous amount of work with him, and that we would be like, super close and super tactile and loving, and we were partners after the really difficult journey that we went through in the first film,” Evangeline said. “That was the thing that I was the most excited about was to get to have more screen time with Michael. And Michelle, of course.”
Evangeline would love an all-female superhero movie
Technically, she did say it. We may have egged her on. But really, what superhero fan doesn't want this to happen?
“I want all of the women in the MCU in a movie together. All of that's just rumor and gossip. None of that comes from a real place, but I'm just gonna keep perpetuating the rumor, because then maybe it'll really happen. Because Marvel love their fans, and really listens to them. But I have a girl crush on Okoye. I mean, come on…and the thing is, Danai herself IS Okoye,” Evangeline said. “You know. She's so fierce and strong and present, and, convicted. And talented. She's my queen, I always call her my queen. And I would love to see the Wasp and Okoye kick some ass together.”
We talked about the battle scene in Infinity War where Proxima Midnight corners Scarlett Witch in a ditch in Wakanda. Proxima Midnight tells Scarlett Witch Vision will “Die alone, as will you” and moments later Black Widow and Okoye appear and Black Widow says, “She's not alone.” Evangeline told us how at the premiere she got so excited about that moment that she shouted, “F*ck yeah!” in the theatre. “I couldn't help myself.” She's kind of my spirit animal because I pretty much said the same thing, but quietly.
Women are strong because of their femininity
Evangeline went on to talk about how fight scenes with women are so elegant and different in a way that fight scenes that are only men just can't be because of the physicality of them. She discussed how women can have an advantage over men physically because she's a woman, not because she figured out how to move like a man. This was something she was very passionate about.
“I actually spent way less time worrying about getting my body rock hard and developing visual muscles as I spent in front of a mirror with my stunt doubles, making sure that we didn't just take a dude, and put him in a woman's body. I didn't want to send the message that in order to be powerful and strong and capable and tough, you have to be masculine, and macho, and a dude,” Evangeline said. “I wanted to show that we are strong because of our femininity, not in spite of it. I wanted to show that when Hope was Hope, and she was emotional and vulnerable and smiling and pleasant and happy and not like, just badass bitch. I wanted to show that when she was fighting, by incorporating grace and elegance and femininity into the fight—in the van, that out the window, back—it's ballet. It's ballet. Like no dude could do that, 'cause men can't move that way, because they don't have the flexibility, agility, or the petiteness to come out a back window and in a front window. They just couldn't.”
On working with Paul Rudd and being in a superhero film
Evangeline Lilly shared with us her recollection of when she was first approached to play the role of Hope Van Dyne in Ant-Man. At first, she told her manager she wasn't interested in the role.
“No, I don't really want to do a superhero movie. That doesn't appeal to me,” Evangeline told her manager.
She didn't like superhero movies, she'd never really seen Marvel's superhero movies.
Her manager essentially asked her to hear him out. He told her they were going to cast Paul Rudd in the lead.
“And I was like, ‘Hold the phone, wait, what? Paul Rudd's gonna be a superhero? I'm in! Whatever they're doing, it's ridiculous, and I love it.' And it wasn't as simple as that. But it definitely was the thing that had me like, ‘Okay. I gotta go see what Marvel is doing.' I started watching Marvel movies, and I read the script, and I got engaged, and because I was a huge Paul Rudd fan.”
“I mean, nobody in this room is not a Paul Rudd fan,” Evangeline said laughing. [She's not wrong.] “Everybody loves Paul Rudd. He's so loveable, and this is gonna sound maybe like not giving him enough credit, but I really mean this 'cause he's just so freaking talented, but my favorite thing about working with Paul is watching the movie. Because I watch it, and I fall in love with him all over again. I love the movie because I love Paul and I in a movie, therefore, that I love, you know?”
“In Ant-Man, when Darren shot Anthony and totally charming and incredible Paul Rudd goes, ‘Oh. You're gonna pay for that.' I was like, ‘I love him.' I love him. Yeah.
Ant-Man and the Wasp flies into theatres July 6, 2018.
Thanks to Walt Disney Studios for bringing me to Los Angeles on an all-expense paid trip. As always, all opinions are my own.