I shared a little about the set visit to a neighborhood in my post sharing my interview with Paul Rudd. I didn’t share that we also were super lucky to visit the Pym Tech Lab set, quite a treat, and learning that Michael Douglas was there filming just days before we visited.
This top secret trip had us riding from shuttle to parking lot to get on another shuttle to take us around. Being on a trip like this is exciting, I mean, there are very few that get to visit the set of movies, especially Marvel movies, and then on top of that to interview some of the actors and the director Peyton Reed. Lucky for you, I was given the green light to share these after months of keep in under cover. What isn’t shown in the photo above was some broken glass on the floor from a scene that was shot where someone goes through a window. And of course the details of this working lab are pretty awesome up close, but I too will have to wait to see the film to see all that this lab can do.
Director Peyton Reed Talks Ant-Man
Peyton is know for his comedies. Directing films such as The Break Up, Yes Man and Bring It On, Marvel’s Ant-Man is a huge change. One he took on in full force, and as he mentions, brings that comedic element to the film.
What’s your experience of Ant Man before starting production on the movie?
Well I am a classic Marvel Comics nerd who was reading comic books from a really, really young age and there was kind of a choice as a kid. You either read Marvel Comics or DC Comics. Some kids read both, but I was strictly a Marvel guy and Ant Man was one of my favorites. I always loved Ant Man. He’s kind of an outsider character, even in the comics world. He really kinda’ never had his own comic book. He was an Avenger and there was Tales To Astonish with the Ant Man and but he was a little schizophrenic the character of Hank Pym, but in the comics he was Ant Man and Giant Man and all these different things. But I always loved that character and I was actually in a punk band in the 80’s and I would draw all the fliers to the, to the shows. And there was one where I totally ripped off the cover of Avengers #1 and had the band members as characters of the Avengers and I was Ant Man in the thing and this was probably ’86. We actually showed it at Comic Con.
It was just a weird thing to sort of be directing Ant Man now when I had been that character back in my punk rock days. But yeah for me it’s the kind of movie I’ve wanted to direct for a long time and to be able to have the opportunity has been great.
A lot of why he becomes Ant Man is because of his daughter, how much of that played a part in this film?
Well it’s one of the things that I really was attracted to about the movie because I think he’s the only super hero in the Marvel Universe that’s apparent. And we’ve changed some of the specifics from the comic, but he still definitely has the relationship with his daughter Cassie. And it is a driving force as to why he sort of embraces his heroic side.
That was really appealing to me to sort of do a movie that has all these weird elements to it. The shrinking, the controlling ants, and all the sort of super heroics, but also has this really grounded domestic side you know. It’s this guy who is making really poor decisions in his life and is now trying some kind of redemption. And a big part of that is to really be a part of his daughter’s life. And also to kind of make the world a better place for his daughter to grow up in. And there’s a great thematic between Paul and his daughter, and also Michael Douglas and his daughter, in the movie, Evangeline Lily. And I think that in terms of the script and the story is one of the great things. They both, Paul and Michael, are very flawed characters who have things to learn about parenting and about being there for your kids. And that I think is a different thing from a lot of the other Marvel movies.
How close is this story to those of the comics?
I think all the comic to movie translations change because I think you kinda’ wanna’ do the same thing that Marvel Comics did from the 60’s to present day, is you know each version of say the Avengers or you know Iron Man, each decade there’s sort of a different take on those characters. To keep them fresh and relevant to the world around them. And even like in the original Stan Lee, Jack Kirby Comics they were pop culture references. It was all about really being relevant to young readership and I think the same is with movie. So there’s a lot of discussion about what changes and what stays the same, but I think everybody’s united on the fact that you just wanna’ keep it fresh ‘cause there’s so many super hero movies. And there’s all this talk about super hero fatigue and I think no one is more aware of that than Kevin Feige and the people at Marvel. And it’s like you gotta’ stay 5 steps ahead of the audience ‘cause ultimately he just wants the audience to be surprised and entertained and not bored and not this, “Oh I’ve seen that before.” And again, one of the things about Ant Man that I love is like the powers are, are really, really different and the style of story’s very different. And he’s very grounded. It’s a grounded story.
So tell us a little about the story.
Well Ant Man, again, I think another thing I love about the Marvel Universe is they’re all interconnected, but they allow each individual movie to have its own tone. And in fact they really encourage it to have their own tone. And you’re like the first Captain America is a straight up a WWII soldier story and winter soldiers. Like a ‘70s political thriller. This movie really kinda’ has the DNA of a heist movie in the way that it was written and the way that we’re shooting it you know it’s got a real sort of rhythm. There’s a lot of stuff that has to happen and there are a lotta’ heist movies that we watched as inspiration. So it is a super hero movie, but it really has the spin of a heist movie.
Comparable to which ones?
There were a bunch of heist movies. I mean obviously like probably more recently Oceans 11, but going back to stuff like The Killing, Stanley Kubrick and the original Thomas Crown Affair, stuff like that. And there are a lot of things that have to be set in motion and you have a group of characters who all have a defined function in this heist and how it plays out. And the notion that as much as you plan anything there’s always that sort of “X” factor or that act of God or something that you didn’t count on to come up. So we uh we definitely took all that into account.
Were you part of the casting process?
Well I sort of inherited Paul Rudd. Paul was on the movie before. And we have an amazing cast. I mean Michael and Paul and Evangeline were on the movie before. So we only have 2 weeks left of shooting in the movie so we’re really far along and the cast in this movie is bonkers.
In terms of the performance and the performance is all around, they’re incredible. I was saying before I think Paul was probably, I don’t know is there’s an official award, but he’s gotta’ be the most liked and most likeable guy in Hollywood. I was very happy to find out. I knew Paul a little bit before the movie, but to find out that you when you’re watching a Paul Rudd movie it’s like, “Oh I can, I can hang out with that guy.” And you actually do feel that way when you work with Paul ‘cause he’s, he’s great. He’s the kinda’ actor that when I decided I wanted to be a director. And wondered what it would be like I always, I always hoped that actors would be that way and Paul is that way. And obviously he’s an incredibly gifted comedic actor, but if you look at his dramatic work he’s equally amazing in movies and on stage. And this movie definitely asks him to exercise all those muscles you know. It’s kind of a different for we introduce him in a different context and you first see him in the movie he’s in prison. He’s getting out of prison and it’s like a rougher, more rugged version of Paul. That’s been really fun. To kind of see him…he’s worked out and he’s been doing all this fight training and he’s amazing. And you know my wife for example, who’s always loved Paul Rudd, you know she saw from the first day and she’s like, “Ohhhh impressive.” (we all laugh) And I said, “Calm down” (Ha! Still laughing). I’m never coming to set. Yeah he’s amazing in the movie and he and Michael Douglas together are fantastic.
Paul Rudd’s character or Michael Douglas’ character do they get along in this film or is there some rivalry?
Well it’ interesting ‘cause it’s sort of a passing of the torch from Michael, who’s the original Ant Man, to Paul who may become the New Ant Man. It’s a mentor/pupil story, but both the mentor and the pupil are kind of screwed up. So they learn some stuff from each other um and it’s not always an easy fit. And there’s a lot of sort of cat and mouse and sizing each other up along the way. And that’s what’s really fun to see those 2 guys play against each other in the movie.
And they go against each other?
There’s a little bit of conflict, yeah.
Talking about Paul, he is well known for his comedy films, is there a lot of comedy in the movie?
There is. I mean it’s a serious movie with serious stakes, but it was important to keep the comedic thing alive you know. That there’s certain situations are just inherently funny and we’ve never forgotten that we are doing a movie about a guy who shrinks down to the size of an ant. He’s potentially the silliest Marvel hero around. But I think one of the things that we all love is that the movie is gonna’ surprise people and in terms of the shrinking we’re able to do things on a technical level that just haven’t been in a movie before you know. That we can do and it takes place in the real world, but we experience it from radically different perspectives. And when we go down and he shrinks down we’re able to like get the cameras, these virtual cameras, in places that you just couldn’t do before. So it’s a whole other representation of what it’s like to be small. And then in terms of the other power, the weirder power, controlling ants which seems so crazy and silly we’re gonna’ show the audience okay maybe it’s not so silly. Like look at what he can do and look at what these tiny things when they’re mobilized into armies of what they can actually do. And that’s one of the fun things about the movie. I think it will sneak up on audiences that way.
Because the movie centers around family are you targeting family as an audience, what age groups do you think it will be appropriate for?
I really think it’s appropriate for, for all ages. The movie is gonna’ be PG-13, but t’s something we definitely think about in terms of they’re very tonally different. They’re very uplifting movies and they are really about, not just feats of super heroics, but about like finding the hero in yourself. And about people who have maybe lost their way finding their way. And again I get from those movies what I used to get from those comics you know. They embrace the aspirational quality of what I think is sort of the initial reason that comic books were created and why people go to read comic books. ‘Cause that’s something to aspire to. And you know it’s kind of our contemporary mythology. So I think it’s absolutely suitable for all ages.
The next evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings a founding member of The Avengers to the big screen for the first time with Marvel Studios’ “Ant-Man.” Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.
ANT-MAN opens in theaters everywhere on July 17th!
* I was invited by Disney to do a special set visit for Marvel’s Ant-Man in 11/15. All opinions are my own.