David Dastmalchian has a thing for superheroes. He was first introduced to many as a Joker cover in The Dark Knight, and has since turned up in Gotham and The Flash. However, where he's most well known is in the MCU as Kurt. Appearing in both Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp, Kurt is a small-time criminal who follows a similar redemptive arc to Scott Lang: he, his Russian accent and hair gel have proven deceptively important in beating the forces of Yellowjacket and Sonny Burch.
Screen Rant caught up with Dastmalchian for the home video release of Ant-Man and the Wasp (available now on digital, Blu-ray and DVD), where we discussed how the movies have evolved, his surprising history with Paul Rudd, and where Kurt may go next.
I always liked that little gang that you have in the first Ant-Man. When, from your perspective, when did you find out that you were going to come back for the second one?
You know, it was so interesting. So, the first film, I was cast in that movie and then things changed, and the director changed, and everything started to change, and I didn't know if I was going to be a part of the film anymore. And then, I went to Atlanta, and I went down and I met Peyton Reed, who had come on board to direct the film, and found out I was going to be a part of the movie. And so, the stress and all of that ended up with a happy ending. And I got to go make this amazing film.
Well, then, the second film was announced, and I just didn't know, and I didn't hear anything, and I was waiting, and I was curious. We were getting closer and closer to when I heard that they were going to shoot the film. And then I got a phone call from Peyton telling me that Kurt was indeed going to be part of Ant-Man and the Wasp. And he gave me a little bit of tidbit into some of the stuff that we were going to be doing. And once again, it was a very happy ending. I was so excited. And then very soon after that, I flew down to start filming on the movie.
And interestingly too, this movie represents a lot of pivotal moments in my life. The first movie came out right around the same time that we finished my first independent film, that I wrote and acted in, called Animals. That also went into production within months of the birth of my first child, which was my son Arlo. The second film, we went into production right around the time that we had a finished-up working on my second independent feature called All Creatures Here Below. And at the same time my daughter, Penny, was born. So, I guess if there's a third film, I'm going to have to tell Peyton, “Please, I want a third child and a third independent film. So, let's make a third movie [laughs].”
That's a lot of change. And I guess it has been quite a long time since you were first cast in this. How has the experience of making the movies changed from Ant-Man 1 to Ant-Man 2? Because, as you said, Peyton Reed came on fairly late to the first time on. Here he was with the sequel from the beginning.
Correct. And I think that the only difference there was that I was much less nervous going into the second film. Because the first film involved a lot of comedy, and that was something I hadn't gotten an opportunity to do on film or television before. At least not in that scale and not for such a big project. And so, the fact that they invited me to come back for the second film, and that the first one did so well, I was able to relax. Also, I've become very close with and friends with, not only Peyton but the rest of the cast and the crew. So, when you get all the gang back together for the second film, it was much more comfortable. With a lot of ease, just kind of fall back into the rapport, the chemistry, the energy in which we make the thing.
And that includes a formula that I believe is fairly consistent with a lot of the magic that the MCU encourages. Which is, they allow the director and then the actors and the other artists making each film to make it their own. And they work off of a script that they've worked incredibly hard on. We had some amazing writers on this film, but they also leave room for improvisation. And so, when you've got Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena, and all these other actors throwing awesome improv around, you just try and raise your game. Jump on and try not to ruin good takes [chuckles].
With the improv, obviously that means a lot of stuff that gets shot that doesn't get used. Were there any specific scenes, either improvised or something that was actually in the script that you shot and then didn't make it, that you wish you had?
After the film had wrapped, Peyton contacted me and said that he felt that Baba Yaga was going to be a joke that people were going to really respond to. He thought it was really funny. So, he had me come to the studio, and I brought my kids with me because I was getting off a plane from, I forget where I was coming in from. But I was there with my wife and my kids, and I went into a big soundstage, a recording stage where they were doing ADR and sound and audio work. And we did an entire recording of the Baba Yaga Lullaby as if we were recording it for a record for an LP. And he was going to, I believe, put it in the credit sequence. It didn't end up being in the credit sequence. But if you buy the Ant-Man and the Wasp soundtrack, the very final tracks on that CD or digital download is the Baba Yaga lullaby sung by yours truly.
Oh, that's great. You've got quite a bit of comedy stuff in there. One of the stories I wanted to ask about was, I heard that Paul Rudd heard your accent and was so taken with it, he wouldn't believe that you are an American. He wouldn't actually believe that it wasn't an authentic accent. So, I kind of wanted to ask about that. How did you come up with the accent? How did you get into that role and make it evidently so convincing?
Thank you for asking that question. When I was auditioning, going through the audition process for the first Ant-Man, I went into the first audition at Sarah Finn’s office in Los Angeles and I went in character. I mean, I wore the pants that I thought Kurt would wear, the shirt I thought Kurt would wear, the gold chain that I thought Kurt would wear, the hair I thought Kurt would wear. And it was in character [speaking with Kurt’s accent]. So, I just went in like this and I didn't want to lose my accent, so I spoke everything the way I am. [Dropping accent] And so, that went well. Then she brought me back in for the director at the time, which was Edgar Wright. We had this great callback session. And then, when it’s a big film like this, you do often what’s called a test.
So, I went into Disney for my big test. And at that point, Paul was obviously cast as Ant-Man and Michael Pena had been cast as Luis. But they were putting together the rest of the gang. So, I went to my test at Disney and there was a bunch of other actors in a waiting room, and we start going in and doing these scenes with Paul and Michael and a lot of improv is happening, and I was staying in very much in Kurt’s voice [sliding into Kurt’s accent] and character and trying to be much like the way he is.
And then we were having coffees in little, what you call, green room with donuts, and talking to other actors. [Dropping accent] And Paul Rudd, he comes over to me and he's like, “Hey man, that was great in there. How long have you been in the states? You know, when did you come over?” And here's the thing, I grew up in the same town that Paul had grown up in. And I actually had worked, when I was in high school, at the same mall that Paul Rudd had worked at when he was in high school. So, I said, [back in accent] “Well, I was an assistant manager at Long John Silvers at Oak Park Mall.” [dropping accent] And he was like, “What?” And I was like, “Hey, I'm from Kansas too.” And he thought that was pretty funny. So, we bonded over that instantly. And, yes, that’s how it went down.
That's amazing. I want to ask a question about where you'd like to see Kurt go in the future. You mentioned Ant-Man 3. Is there any other Marvel franchise you'd like to see Kurt and the X-Con gang appear in? Ant-Man’s appeared in Captain America: Civil War, where would you like to go?
You know, as a gang of misfits, as a gang of people with checkered pasts who’ve now found a new calling. I think that the X-Con gang would fit in very well with probably the Guardians of the Galaxy. I think that's a good pairing right there. I think that Kurt and his amazing hair, we'd probably do really well with a lot of the characters. Tony Stark seems very invested in his own hair. So, I feel like Tony and Kurt could like have a competitive hair competition. But I actually, I just recently, like I told you about my indie films. I got to make a film with Karen Gillan, who's one of the Guardians, and we bonded a lot talking about the fact that in an alternate universe, we could be, instead of driving around in a beat-up old car like we were in our indie, we could be driving around in a spaceship together someday. So, who knows? Who knows, what's to come? But, I certainly hope I do get another opportunity to get the hairspray out and put Kurt's hair back up.
And just a quick final question. Do you know if you survive the snap?
Absolutely, yes. I think this is out there now. I believe that I saw it on a subreddit, read that Kurt’s pile of dust was spotted with a big indestructible pile of hair on top. So, the fact remains that Kurt’s hair is indestructible.
The hair is stronger than Thanos.
It is much stronger than Thanos - and that's just a fact. I don't know why that's surprising to people. To me, it's a no-brainer.
- Captain Marvel (2019) release date: Mar 08, 2019
- The Avengers 4 / Avengers: Endgame (2019) release date: Apr 26, 2019
- Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019) release date: Jul 02, 2019