Evangeline Lilly is one of the most beautiful badasses I have ever met. She was a self-proclaimed nerd in school and fought against the path her life would eventually take her. In this Evangeline Lilly The Wasp Interview, she talks about what it means to her to be Marvel’s 1st female superhero a time of the Me Too and Time’s up movement. This is one of those interviews that makes me proud to be a woman and do what I do for opportunities to share with others. What do I mean? Read on, by the end you will understand.
Evangeline Lilly The Wasp Interview
Now a fugitive with her father, Hank, the brilliant scientist has used her me in hiding to master her new role as The Wasp, but she isn’t quite ready to team up with Scott for their most important mission ever. But returning her family depends on it, so she is forced to seek his help.
You did all of the heavy lifting as The Wasp.
Well, I didn’t lift a semi-truck. That was Mister 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. But, yeah. This film, like, 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 absolute hell bent and passionate right now about representing women as fierce and capable and as equals to men.
And I think that’s the most important thing is like, is there equality to the message? And I think that having equal billing tells us that right now, in this movie, there is.
Talk about being a superhero. Young girls everywhere are going to look up to you.
Amazing, amazing. I used to fantasize about being Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman. I was obsessed with her. And partly because it’s Michelle Pfeiffer in a skin-tight leather costume, owning it, and being fierce as shit. Can I say “shit” here? But, also, I think it was because there wasn’t a lot to choose from, you know. There just weren’t very many female superheroes. It was mostly male superheroes.
So, you know, me and my sisters would sometimes be pretending to be Spiderman or to be Batman or to be whoever else. And, you know, I had a moment recently where my seven-year-old son was pretending to be The Wasp. Yeah. And I still get goosebumps when I tell that story. It chokes me up because that’s a cultural shift. Definitely, you know, for a little boy to pretend to be a female superhero, that’s like, this is no small thing.
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 and Times Up, it is saying, we know. 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 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.
So, how was it working with Michelle Pfeiffer after being admittedly obsessed with her?
— Evangeline Lilly (@EvangelineLilly) July 24, 2017
I know! I was like, if anyone in the world says that I can pass as her daughter, I’m going to kiss them forever. I’m like, what? It was a dream to work with Michelle. Because the weird thing is, 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.”
And you are the opposite of that.
Oh. Bless your heart. Thank you. I’m like, “I want you to be perfect, you know?” And that’s impossible. Who can live up to that? Michelle can. She can. She’s perfect, like, 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 sixty-something or however old she is you’re ever gonna meet. And so playing her daughter was an incredible honor. And also, I had to just bite my tongue, ’cause every day, I wanted to just be like, “Can you be my mentor?” Please?
And then working with Michael Douglas. I was so astounded by him in the first film because I was the opposite with him. I was kind of ignorant to him. Like I watched him in Romancing the Stone, and was like, “Cool. Great romance. He’s cute.” I was eight, y’know, or whatever I was, but I didn’t keep up with his career. I just knew he was a big movie star. But I wasn’t somebody who’d watched all of his movies and knew his work.
So, 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.
So when I read the script for the second film I found out that I was going to get an enormous amount of work with him. That we would be like, super close and super…tactile and loving and like, we were partners after the really difficult journey that we went through in the first film?
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. (Laughing)
Let’s talk about having an all-female MCU film.
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, [LAUGHS] because then maybe it’ll really happen. Because Marvel love their fans, and really listen to them. But I have a girl crush on Okoye. I mean, come on. And the thing is, Danai is Okoye.
She’s so fierce and strong and present, and like, convicted. And talented. She’s my queen, I call her my queen. And I would love to see the Wasp and Okoye kick some ass together.
I’m kind of obsessed with fight scenes in the Marvel Universe. Especially with the women. Yours in the van was just so beautiful, absolutely stunning. Talk about the training that went behind that —
When I went to the Avengers premiere, you could not shut me up, and one point when Scarlet Witch was trapped in the trench. And said Black Widow says, “But she’s not alone.” Literally, in the theater at the premiere in my gown, I go, “Fuck yeah!”
I couldn’t help myself. So. That van scene. I love that you pointed out the van scene because the restaurant scene is the one that everyone talks about because it’s the big kind of spectacle fight in the movie. But what I like the fact that you mentioned the van scene is the training that went into the fight – I actually spent way less time worrying about getting my body rock hard and developing, you know, 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.
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, and I feel like, in the fan, that out the window, back, I mean, 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. And that’s, like, let’s examine how a woman could have an advantage over a man, physically, because she’s a woman. Not because she figured out how to move like a man. And that was something that was really — I was really passionate about and, so, you know, yeah. Yeah.
I totally get that. You’re talking about talking about each individuals’ strengths.
And I’m gonna just add to that I can’t wait to see a feminine, male superhero. When are we going to see that? You know, because we’ve seen masculine, female superheroes.
You and Paul seem to have such a great relationship on screen.
When I first got approached about Ant-Man in the first place, my manager said, “Hey. You know. They’re interested in you for this role. Would you be interested?” It was like, “No, I don’t really want to do a superhero movie. That doesn’t appeal to me.” Because I didn’t like superhero movies, because I’d never really seen Marvel’s superhero movies. He was like, “Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. Hear me out, hear me out, hear me out, um, so they’re gonna 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,” and 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. (laughing) And it’s like, everybody loves Paul Rudd. He’s so loveable, and this is gonna sound maybe, like, I don’t know, 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
You’ve mentioned before that you became an actress by accident?
She was like, “I have one question, and if I ask this one, she has to stay for like, an hour. It’s perfect!” That is the longest story. That is such an enormous, like, one day, I have to write a book about how you accidentally become a movie star. (laughing) But it’s true. It was kind of an accident. It’s like, such a long story. It’s truncated. But basically, you know how when you hit puberty in high school?
And before I hit puberty I used to be called Brainiac. That was sort of my identity. I had freckles. I had buck teeth. I was scrawny. I had a totally flat chest, and I got As, I was on the student council, and on the soccer team, and in the plays. My thing was “overachievement”. My thing was not looking great. (laughing) And my thing was not like, all of the boys wanted to date me or anything like that. My thing was, I have abilities. I have intelligence.
Then I hit puberty and…all of a sudden, my entire identity according to the rest of the world was wrapped up in what I looked like. I had all kinds of boys touch me in ways I didn’t want to be touched, and I had all kinds of girls hate me in ways that I didn’t want to be hated. And I decided that I needed to like, just not stand out. Like just don’t be super smart. Don’t be talented. Don’t stand out, ’cause if you do, you’re just gonna get hurt, so I spent like, five years kind of dumbing myself down and trying to pretend to be a wallflower.
“That’s not me”
When clearly I’m not a wallflower. (laughing) Like, not me. That built up into a lot of pain. And at that point, I had been scouted on multiple occasions and I had turned down the opportunity, saying, “I’m more than just this, like, that’s not me.”
And then I had somebody very astutely say to me, “What are you afraid of?” I’m like, “I’m not afraid of anything. I just don’t want to be defined by being a pretty face, and that’s why they want me on camera.” And this person said, “I think you’re afraid of your own greatness.” And I erupted into heaving sobs, and I couldn’t stop crying, and something had broken open in me that I didn’t even realize that I had been doing, and I had to examine what that pain was. When I did, I realized how much I had been hiding, and how much I had been trying not to shine, and I decided that I would start just letting my light shine.
And just being unabashed about who I was in the world. And one of the ways I thought I could do that was taking up an agent on their desire to put me in auditions. I wanted to just exercise my brightness. I just wanted to be bold and bright. And I’d never really thought about the fact that auditions can lead to jobs. That hadn’t factored in. It was just like, “I’m just gonna go out and just shine!” You know?
And so, I went out for my first audition in January or February of 2004, and in March of 2004, I was in Hawaii, shooting Lost. I think it was my fifth audition. It just happened. And when they were like, “Oh. They want to bring you to LA for a test.” I was like, “What kind of test? Like, multiple choice?” I literally knew nothing about the business and I was not thinking about jobs.
I was thinking about just expressing myself. And so when I got a job, it was sort of just like, “Oh, shit, okay. I guess this is what I’m doing now. ” And I had been in university studying international relations and political science. I wanted to be a humanitarian or a diplomat or an ambassador. It was a total 180 for me, and therefore it was really hard. I really didn’t like it for a long time.
But eventually, I came to terms with that, that one word, that was spoken into my life, of, “I think you’re afraid of this thing inside of you that feels big.” And I’m still always trying to tell myself, “It’s okay to be big. It’s okay. You can go ahead and be big”. (laughing) And in this case, I get to be teeny.
ANT-MAN AND THE WASP (7/6/18)
* I was invited by Disney to attend #AntManandTheWaspEvent to share with my readers. All opinions are my own.