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Ant-Man - Michael Douglas interview

Ant-Man, Michael Douglas

Interview by Rob Carnevale

SCREEN legend Michael Douglas talks about some of the challenges [and pleasures] of playing Dr Hank Pym in Marvel’s Ant-Man and why he has a newfound appreciation for working on blockbuster movies of this size.

He also discusses his own childhood and why he wasn’t a big reader of comic books growing up, what finally attracted him to the world of superhero movies and whether he’d like to don the Ant-Man suit himself in future movies. He was speaking at a UK press conference…

Q. Did this movie give you a newfound respect for ants?
Michael Douglas: Yeah. I just never knew there were so many possible characters… working ants, flying ants and seeing all the different characters. It was always a joy. We’d often take a brief respite to look away and enjoy some of the ant hills and watch them at work.

Q. Where did you go to look for inspiration for the personalities behind the characters you play? Was it just from the comics?
Michael Douglas: Well, I was not a comic book guy as a kid. So, I didn’t know anything about this. They were kind enough to send me the script of Ant-Man along with a leather-bound copy of two years of Ant-Man comics, which I digested so we could talk two dimensionally about these superhero movies. But while I was looking through these comics I was like: “Oh my goodness, there’s Hank Pym, a very brilliant scientist, a warrior, who created this incredible factory and built the Pym Foundation technologies together with his wife, who he lost. There was more back story for Hank Pym than any of the so-called reality movies that I might have done. So, I had a pretty good blueprint to follow.

Q. What did you read as a child?
Michael Douglas: I guess I was on the cusp of that television audience, so I did not go into my room to read comics. I watched The Lone Ranger, I watched Hop-a-Long Cassidy, I watched Howdy Doody. I was a black and white television fiend growing up. So, that’s how I remember most of that. Other than that, if I read books they were more like Treasure Island and Tom Sawyer.

Q. This is your first time as part of the Marvel/superhero universe. So, what was your thinking as there’s a lot of technical stuff? And what was your impression after you had finished the movie?
Michael Douglas: Well, I was very excited about this opportunity when they came to me because I had never done anything in this milieu. My entire career is contemporary based, not by choice, but just by character. So, all the movies I’ve done, except for one in 40 years, are contemporary. But I never did an effects movie. So, I’m also a producer and I was really curious about how this whole thing went together.

I’ve got tremendous respect for Peyton [Reed, director] for keeping all of these pieces together because as we were filming altogether as actors, there was somebody else doing special effects, there were stunts and there also just people doing ant point of views, which is pretty phenomenal – to be able to juggle all of those pieces was quite impressive. So, I enjoyed the experience. I also have a great appreciation for actors who work with green screen because there ‘aint anything there. Talk about having to play make believe! Again, Peyton was very good in showing you what it would look like, so you’d get that impression and so you weren’t really over-acting.

Paul [Rudd] was an anchor for the entire picture. He maintained; he was as steady as he could be; he always made all the other actors around him welcome and he gave himself a lot of good lines [laughs]! But he’s entitled to that!

Q. You didn’t get to wear the Ant-Man suit, so next time maybe?
Michael Douglas: Well, who’s to say I wasn’t wearing it? I myself saw me coming on a missile heading right for a big city, so I could easily have done that because the face is a blur! Listen, after seeing myself CGI’d in the beginning of the movie… that was incredible. Peyton told me I’d get a kick out of it. So, there was this scene at the beginning of the movie and I had these little dots all over my face and I was looking at the camera and then suddenly I disappeared and there I was looking like I did years ago in Romancing The Stone. I was impressed! I was thinking that I’m all for a prequel to that film!

Q. The Marvel movies always have a light touch to them but this one, in particular, is extremely funny. Is that something you’re going to stick with? Or will you go darker?
Michael Douglas: Well, speaking on behalf of Evangeline Lily who is not with us today because she is eight months preggers, if you stay to the very end credits I think there’s also a little taste of what might be coming.

Read our review of Ant-Man

Peyton Reed interview