Although original co-writer and director Edgar Wright left Marvel’s Ant-Man during pre-production, one of his enduring legacies on the film is the casting of Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, the down-on-his-luck thief recruited by Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to steal the Ant-Man tech from Pym’s old company and eventually put on the suit himself and become a superhero. Rudd’s natural charm, his perfect comic timing, his self-awareness and his heart make for a terrific combination in a character who is driven by love for his daughter to shrink himself and lead an army of ants in a heist with huge ramifications.
Rudd’s recent credits include Anchorman 2, They Came Together and Prince Avalanche, as well as earlier hits like Knocked Up and This is 40. He’s also reprising his role as Andy in the upcoming Netflix limited series based on the cult film Wet Hot American Summer. But right now for Rudd it’s all about Ant-Man and it’s also about the currently filming Captain America: Civil War, in which Rudd suits up alongside the other members of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Here’s how our talk went:
What made you want to do this? Was it playing a superhero? Wearing the suit? The mentor-pupil relationship?
The idea of doing something so different from anything I’d ever done before, and that people might hear that I was cast in this movie and their reaction might be, “Huh?” Because it didn’t jibe with the rest of the stuff. So that was a huge appeal, and the fact that the movie kind of fired on all the cylinders that I’m interested in and that I like, that it’s funny but it has heart. There’s an emotional story that you can kind of get invested in. And then the visuals and the action and the effects are — I mean, they’re crazy good.
What were your main concerns with Edgar Wright leaving and Peyton Reed coming in? You were right in the mix for all that…
I was concerned as much as, you know, you would think. I got the part, I was hired by Edgar, and Edgar’s a friend of mine, and so yeah, I said this before in many interviews because I’ve been asked about it a lot, it was disconcerting and I was really focused on, you know, what was gonna happen and was reassured by Marvel. Peyton came in pretty early on and that put my mind at rest a little bit, and all the changes happened pretty quickly and the ship righted itself pretty quickly, and then all of a sudden, different things started to expand and present themselves as opportunities, and I was really excited and happy. And the experience of shooting the film was phenomenal, and I look at it now and it’s like, “Oh, Peyton really stepped up.” And I’m thrilled that Peyton got to direct the movie. Sad that I didn’t get to work with Edgar obviously, because I still would love to. I think he’s great. But I’m a huge Peyton Reed fan — I was to begin with, and now it’s just like, “Oh, that guy can do anything.”
You and Adam McKay got to work on the script. What do you feel you brought to it?
We really kind of focused on the story, and we did a lot of work, and it was fun. It was fun to work with Adam in that way, just in a writers’ room, ‘cause he’s the best. And then to kind of have a better sense of what the whole thing is, because you know, when you write something, you start to focus on every other character besides your own, and then you understand story and motivations and how all the pieces fit, and that was really enhanced when I got to work on it with Adam too.
Have you reported for duty in Atlanta already (to the set of Captain America: Civil War)?
Is it fun to go down there and be part of the bigger family now?
Well, you know, it made it real in a way that even working on Ant-Man didn’t seem real. I knew I was part of the Marvel Universe, I knew I was in it and it was exciting to feel as if I was in it, but it was much more real when I was standing next to Captain America or Iron Man or a few of the other guys, and you look around and go, “Oh wow, there they are. There’s that silver arm, there it is in person.” I turned into a 10-year-old kid, it was amazing.
Ant-Man is out in theaters July 17.