Interview: Michael Douglas is Not a Comic Book Guy But He Plays One in Ant-Man
** Warning – this post may contain spoilers**
When Michael Douglas enters a room, he commands attention, much like his character Hank Pym in Marvel’s upcoming new franchise Ant-Man (in theaters July 17th).
Although we knew he was heading into our private interview room, I wasn’t prepared for just how much of an impact being in the same room with him had. He made himself known with a gravel-voiced “hello!”. Even though he brought such a presence – I mean, this is THE Michael Douglas after all, the very same from such classics as Romancing the Stone, Wonder Boys, and one of my personal favorites Shining Through (watch it, it’s great), he made the room feel at ease with his sparkly blue eyes and devilish grin.
A former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, entomologist and physicist, Dr. Hank Pym discovered the subatomic particles that make Ant-Man’s transformation possible in 1963 and later mentors Lang to take over as Ant-Man.
“Historically I’m not a comic book guy,” Michael starts, “not as a kid”. He was wooed into playing Pym by being sent the script along with a “lovely leather bound book about two of the Ant-Man comics” and familiarized himself with the back story and character profiles, such as the fact that Pym has a strained relationship with his daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly), mainly due to the loss of his wife, her mother Janet.
Although Michael has a loot of favorite scenes, there were some at the bottom of this list – the scenes where he anchored the plot line. “I had to carry a lot of the exposition of plot in terms of explaining how things worked”. What was even more intimidating was that Peyton Reed (director) knew more about the ant species that Douglas did, who had to explain the details of each as his character.
With that said, he did enjoy the scenes shot at Pym Technology.
“I enjoyed seeing this huge picture of me up there on the wall, you know, he laughed, “I was the founder of the company and appreciated the beautiful work they did on creating the designs of that company”. Another fun surprise for him was the incredible special effects.
“My entire career has contemporary story lines except for one movie out of I think 50. For everything else there weren’t any kind of effects in them, just a green screen. So I was fascinated by that”.
In an opening scene – Michael’s first in the film – he is depicted as he would have looked 30 years ago.
“How often too do you get to do a movie where you get to see yourself 30 years younger. [LAUGHING]. It was wild. I remember that day when the put these little dots all over my head”. The dots were for the special effects team to mark his facial expressions and mannerisms and digitally make him his “younger self”.
“When I was doing dubbing for a couple of lines, there’s one scene and they had, had done half, half the scene is with the special effects where they made me younger, and the other half I still have the dots on my face. It’s hard to explain. It’s been the wildest experience I’ve ever had.”
Michael said that the entire cast and crew were phenomenal to work with, but the biggest surprise came from Corey Stoll, who plays Darren Cross/Yellowjacket – “Corey was a great heavy. He was a great, great villain; in the scenes I had with him, he brought much more strength and, and dynamo than I ever had anticipated. I felt really optimistic about this whole project, right from the get-go, because I did not see a weak link anywhere”.
As far as where Hank Pym goes from here, time will tell. Michael actually thought his character died early on in the film.
“When I first read the script, I felt that my character died on page 70. And so they called me to ask me my response on the script, I said ‘well, it’s really good, you know, and everything, but you know, maybe my death scene, I could have a little bit more made out of it, you know, rather than just sort of passing over it,’ he recounted, “And there’s this long pause”.
“‘What do you mean your death scene?’”
“‘Well, you know, page 70 where I…’”
“‘You don’t die.’”
“‘You don’t die.’”
“Like the classic actor – if I died on page 70, I thumb through the rest of the script not playing a whole lot of attention. I had no idea.”
With that, he says that maybe he’ll have to come back, at least in a back story in some way, although to date nothing has been confirmed.
Part of his motivation for joining MCU had to do with two of his best friends, the iconic actors Jack Nicholson and Danny DeVito.
“Each of them had a great time as the Joker and as the Penguin (in Batman films). I remember them talking about it and all that. And just never having been offered anything in this realm before when this came up, so I thought this will be great. This will be cool.” More motivation came from his son, 14 year old Dylan (with wife Catherine Zeta-Jones). Dylan urged him to take the role because it was a whole new audience for him. And of course his dad would be in a superhero movie, which is pretty damn awesome.
When is comes to joining the Marvel franchise, Michael Douglas couldn’t be happier with his decision.
“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 and I’m happy to be part of the Marvel universe,” he said, then added with a laugh, “I didn’t realize I had to get tattooed!”.