Marvel’s ANT-MAN is out in theatres on July 17th. Michael Douglas is an acting legend. Paul Rudd referred to him as “acting royalty” when we interviewed him. I had the honor of spending 15 minutes chatting with the legendary Michael Douglas on his role of Hank Pym, joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and what it was like to work on his first special effects film in his 50-film career.
On researching the character of Hank Pym and reading comic books
Michael: Historically, I'm not a comic book guy. I was not as a kid. There was one I kind of followed, but it’s not in the Marvel Universe. But when they sent me this script, they also sent me a lovely leather bound book with two 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 comic books, there’s more character background than you get in most parts you ever play, in terms of your loss of your wife, the relationship with your daughter. So there was a whole bunch of stuff to actually play once you read it.
On the technology of the film
Michael: 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 has been contemporary story lines except for one movie out of I think 50. I was a World War 2. Everything else is contemporary, and there weren't any kind of effects in them, just a green screen. So I was fascinated by that.
There were like four units shooting. 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 perspective ant shots from all over. It was fascinating.
In the first unit, we were doing stunts and this and that, but to see how they put four units together using the storyboards, 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. It was wild. I remember that day when they put these little dots all over your head. And I haven't seen the movie yet. I missed the cast screening. I just got in the other night and I just arrived from Europe, so I'll see it on Monday.
But I saw when I was doing dubbing for a couple of lines, there's one scene, and they had done half the scene with the special effects where they made me younger, and the other half I still have the dots on my face. So it was it's hard to explain. It's been the wildest experience I've ever had.
On favorite scene to shoot
Michael: I know the ones I liked least. Those were the heavy exposition. I had to carry a lot of the exposition of plot in terms of explaining how things worked, and there's no rhyme or reason for those. You just got to kind of get a momentum going and try to articulate them, and the fact that Peyton [Reed], 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, 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. I was the founder of the company and just the beautiful work they did on creating that, the designs of that company.
On who was the greatest joy to work with
Michael: Everybody. We just did a press conference, and what I wanted to really say, which I didn't get a chance to, I produce a lot, too, so even when I'm just getting hired in a movie like this as an actor, I kind of look at the whole picture—certainly Kevin Feige, the great production team, 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 everybody was solid. I think the biggest surprise was Corey. Corey was a great heavy. He was a great, great villain, and he brought in the scenes I had with him, he brought much more strength and, 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 haunting. 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 no weak spots here. Everybody's solid.”
So I felt really optimistic about this whole project right from the get-go, because I did not see a weak link anywhere.
On not getting to wear a superhero suit
Michael: Who’s to say I wasn't in a few of those scenes? Hard to tell with the helmet down.
Hank Pym was leading in the 60s and 70s, and now at his age, it's exhausting. And so he had to find somebody of the new generation to carry that on. I was happy just for that role and limited amount of action in an action picture is fine by me.
On working with Paul Rudd
Michael: 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 5-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. Yeah, you wrote the script, didn't you?”
But he's got an elfish grin and quality about him. He worked out, maintaining, staying in shape, and then putting in the whole day. So my heart went out to him, but he was fabulous. I happened to see his work. Interesting casting again on Marvel's part. Every film is sort of interesting. Paul now looks to me like Robert did before the first Iron Man. Also an excellent actor. And I'm sure this is going to be great for Paul.
One being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and where he hopes his character evolves
Michael: Listen, I go from when I first read the script, I felt that I died on page 70. I read I had an accident, and I went “Oh, my God, I, I…” And so they called me to ask me my response on the script, and, “I said well, you know, it's really good and everything, but maybe my death scene, I could have a little bit more made out of it rather than just sort of passing over it.”
There's this long pause, “He says, ‘What do you mean your death scene’?” “Well, page 70 where I…” “You don't die.” I say, “What?” “You don't die.” “You just see me, you're surprised, and then you come back.” “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.” Like the classic actor, if I died on page 70, I thumb through the rest of the script and not playing a whole lot of attention.
I have no idea. No one’s said anything to me…After researching and seeing that Hank Pym was really a key part of the original Avengers, maybe he’ll have to come back.
On his motivation for joining the MCU and being part of the MCU
Michael: Something different. 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 just never having been offered anything in this realm before when this came up, “Ah this will be great, this will be cool.”
My 14-year-old son, I told him all about it, and he was like my agent. He said, “Dad, you know what? This is a whole new audience for you.” I say, “Oh, thanks. You're right, you know, you're right.” So, all of that. I always try to do something different, and I was really curious about effects movies and all of that. And so that really was the reason.
It was really interesting and fascinating to see the process, how it works. Early on, they were consumed with the Avengers coming out—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 and that, but they have an amazing way of working, and it’s a great family. We were in Georgia at Atlanta at a new studio, just as we got out of there, the new Captain America was coming in, and those same crew members are going to go on to Captain America.
So there's a familiarity that brings a comfort factor and a relaxation that these guys got a hell of a track record and they seem to know what they're doing. And so that, that combined with the talent you're actually seeing around you makes you feel very secure. I'm happy to be part of the Marvel Universe. I didn't realize I had to get tattooed.
Marvel’s ANT-MAN, one of the original members of the Avengers, makes his Marvel Cinematic Universe debut this summer following the global, critical and box office success of AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON. ANT-MAN stars Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Michael Douglas and is in theaters everywhere on July 17th!
Like ANT-MAN on Facebook
Follow ANT-MAN on Twitter
Visit the official ANT-MAN website
ANT-MAN opens in theaters everywhere on July 17th!