And you thought ants were simply picnic pests. Just as Michael Douglas, who co-stars in the latest evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the newest member of the Avengers is released: “Ant-Man.” Armed with the amazing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd) joins forces with his new mentor Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit. Full of humor and heart, as well as awesome special effects, this action-packed adventure will be released on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD in early December–complete with never-before-seen deleted scenes, making-of featurettes, a gag reel and audio commentary. To celebrate the release, we talk to acclaimed actor MD to discover his thoughts on the daring heist adventure
Alan W. Petrucelli: “Marvel’s Ant-Man” has been praised as one of the funniest movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Did the humor attract you to the superhero project?
Michael Douglas: The humor was definitely appealing, but I was more interested in the idea of being in an effects movie. I was also really interested in being in a studio tent-pole film after a few years of being more involved with indie pictures. I’m certainly overwhelmed by the success that Marvel has had and how well they do these movies. It’s been a joy to watch and study how they mold a picture together.
AWP: Is this your first superhero movie?
MD: I’ve never done an effects movie before, so this is my first. I was very envious of Jack Nicholson when he played the Joker and Danny DeVito when he played the Penguin. I remember them telling me how much fun it was, so I was very excited to add at least one of these super-action superhero pictures to my résumé.
AWP: How much of a Marvel fan are you?
MD: I love to go and watch Marvel movies with my kids. I’ve caught a fair share of the Marvel films and I always look forward to them–but I also enjoy the home entertainment editions. As a member of the Academy, we get DVDs of a lot of the pictures at the end of the year, so my wife Catherine [Zeta-Jones] and I spend a lot of time catching up on films at our home.
AWP: What do your children think of your role in ‘Ant-Man’’?
MD: This movie gives me a new credibility with my son and his buddies, which is great. Up until now, most of my career has been R-rated, so neither my kids nor any of their friends have seen a whole lot of what I’ve done. My 14-year-old’s reaction was like an agent. He said, ‘You know what, Dad? This could be a whole new audience for you.” I took that to heart and here I am.’
AWP: There’s a fatherhood theme that runs through ‘Ant-Man.’ How does that add to the movie’s appeal?
MD: I thought it gave the movie a lot of heart. It’s certainly been an issue that was touched on with ‘Iron Man’ to some degree, but I don’t think to the level that it is in ‘Ant-Man.’ I think the complexities of my relationship with my daughter, Hope, and the parallel relationships that Scott Lang [played by Paul Rudd] has with his family are very interesting. I think it grounds the picture and gives it an emotional level that is viable. It’s an asset.
AWP: What do you think of Paul Rudd’s performance as Ant-Man?
MD: Paul is great. He brings an everyman quality to the superhero. He’s got a great self-deprecating sense of humor and he worked his way into unbelievable shape for the role. He doesn’t try to play it smart; he just has an everyman quality about him, which I think is very, very appealing. When you watch him, as the character rises to the qualities of being a superhero, you really end up rooting for him.
AWP: How much research did you undertake into the history of Ant-Man and Dr. Hank Pym when you signed on to the movie?
MD: I was not familiar with Ant-Man before this movie, but Marvel was kind enough to send me about two years’ worth of comic books, so I could catch up on his history and background. I’ve read a lot of them. I’ve thumbed through and read most of the stuff that pertained to Hank to help me understand him a little more.
AWP: In the comics, Dr. Pym is a damaged man with an unfortunate history. How much of his past was on your mind when you portrayed the character on set?
MD: They gave me more background to my character than most movies I’ve done, so I could understand about the loss of his wife and the alienation with his daughter. I found it very helpful. I think there are echoes of the loss of his wife and elements that highlight the distance between Hank and his daughter, who is played by Evangeline Lilly. I don’t think we wanted to dwell on it, but it pays off a little later in the picture.
AWP: Marvel likes to hide lots of Easter eggs and secret references in their movies. Were you aware of them when you were shooting the film?
MD: I became aware as they explained them to me. I was a babe in the woods, so what can I say? I love the curiosity and the zealousness in which a lot of the audiences follow these pieces. But I was aware, of course, of the Wasp at the end of the movie and its significance.
AWP: Was the Wasp reveal always planned to be a stinger scene with the end credits?
MD: It was a little scene that they added halfway through the picture. Maybe they were going to have it all along, but they start on a broad canvas and then they narrow it down in terms of the relationships that are working. It goes from there really.
AWP: The opening sequence of the movie is a flashback scene with Hayley Atwell’s character, Peggy Carter. Did you understand the relevance of that scene when you were shooting it?
MD: They explained it to me. They explained why a young, attractive woman on a television series was now playing an older woman–and why I was playing my character 30 years younger than he is for the rest of the movie. She and I did not have a chance to talk too much. She was in the middle of her series [Agent Carter], so she just came down for that one quick scene.
AWP: What do you think of the scene?
MD: When I went into record some extra dialogue after the movie was shot, that scene was half finished, so one half of me had little spots all over my face–and I was wearing the wig with all that hair–and the other half had been completed. Through the magic of computer graphics, I looked 30 years younger. I don’t know how to describe it, but it’s like looking at yourself 30 years ago. There’s no need to do remakes anymore. I’ll just remake some of my movies with myself playing the part!
AWP: How did they shoot the scene?
MD: I had little spots, or little dots, everywhere. They used the dots for reference to measure or change things or whatever they do–and once completed, you see this little baby-faced guy. It was great. I thought it was fantastic.
AWP: How does it feel to know audiences can soon watch “Ant-Man” in the comfort of their own home?
MD: Historically, the movies that you buy are the movies that you cherish the most, so I think it’s great. When I think back to the first picture I produced, “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” when we put that out in Blu-ray, viewers got lots of background information and things that weren’t in the movie. They got a lot of behind-the-scenes information. It’s a joy for people that are real fans to see what was going on when we were making the movie.
AWP: Do you have a large Blu-ray collection at home?
MD: I’ve got a pretty good Blu-ray collection, but my problem is that I rarely have time to look at it. I don’t know how people find the time. It’s the same thing with people who watch box sets and they go right through three years of a series. I have no idea how people have the time.
AWP: Have you got a state-of-the-art home entertainment system set-up at home?
MD: I’ve got one of those new curve screens and it’s quite stunning. The sound quality is amazing, too. You know what? I haven’t explained this to my kids – but when I first started in “The Streets Of San Francisco”, there were only two networks that existed: CBS and NBC; ABC was the upcoming version. It really makes you think about how much time has passed because I’m talking about black-and-white television here. That’s unheard of now. Television and movies have come along an amazingly long way.