With Reporting by Josh Horowitz
With all the "Avengers: Age of Ultron" excitement building up toward the film's release (ONE WEEK!), it's easy for a guy the size of Scott Lang to get lost in the shuffle.
"Who the heck is Scott Lang," you ask? It's a fair question right now! He's the size-changing hero at the heart of "Ant-Man," Marvel's not-an-Avengers movie arriving in just a couple of months, played by Paul Rudd. Exactly how "Ant-Man" fits into the bigger Marvel picture remains to be seen, but we need to know nothing more about the premise and character to get pumped up about Rudd hopping into the superhero game.
We caught up with Rudd during CinemaCon in Las Vegas this week and had a big chat about all things "Ant-Man." Here's what he told us about his preparation process, his thoughts on his fellow Marvel stars, what it's like working inside of the Marvel system, whether we'll see Ant-Man again in the future, and more:
Is this movie a big joke?Marvel
Fair question! And it's not just because it's a movie about a dude called Ant-Man. The film comes from director Peyton Reed, best known for directing "Bring it On," "Yes Man" and episodes of "Mr. Show with Bob and David." It's co-written by Adam McKay and Rudd, a familiar pair for any and all "Anchorman" fans. It originally came from the mind of Edgar Wright, who has plenty of action credibility to his name, but a lot of whimsy as well.
In other words, there are a lot of funny people involved in bringing "Ant-Man" to life. But does the involvement of those funny people mean this is a funnier movie than other Marvel movies?
"I think that there is, but at the same time, it's not an out-and-out comedy," said Rudd. "There's a lot of stuff that's funny, but there's also a lot of action, and there are relationships that you'll care about. My hope is people are surprised by it."
So… it's NOT a joke?
Still confused? Fair enough! Even Rudd acknowledges that the tone of "Ant-Man" is tough to peg, as people experienced firsthand with the film's first teaser trailer.
"It seems like a tough one to nail down," he said. "They released a teaser trailer, and people weren't really sure what the tone was. They released [a second trailer] and there are a couple of jokes about, 'Should we change the name?' We understand that people hear 'Ant-Man' and wonder, 'What is that?' I think it's going to be fun to see the reaction."
How did Paul get in Marvel shape?Marvel
Because he looks good. Like, REALLY good. During our chat, Rudd couldn't help but notice a nearby carving station; "Somebody's slicing prime rib as we speak," he giddily observed. And while he doesn't REALLY have someone slicing meat within 100 feet of him at all times, there's probably an element of truth to his comment that "for every piece of bread I didn't eat, I ate a piece of chicken."
In other words, this is the best shape Paul Rudd has ever been in in his entire life. "Without a doubt," he confirmed. "It's not even close."
What separates Paul from Team Chris?Marvel
As unrecognizably jacked as Rudd has gotten in order to play thief-turned-hero Lang, the actor isn't about to put his body in the pantheon of Marvel's many Chrisses: Evans, Hemsworth and Pratt, the men behind Captain America, Thor and Star-Lord respectively.
"They're big. They got bulk," he said. "I'm playing a guy who shrinks down to the size of an ant. [Bulk] makes no sense. I'm lean. I'm fairly sinewy. I look like Scott Glenn in 'Urban Cowboy.'"
("All your viewers will love that reference," he promised.)
Is Paul feeling the heat?Marvel
Setting aside the insane amount of work Rudd put into crafting his superhero body, there has to be a lot of pressure in taking on "Ant-Man," considering (A) he's a Marvel hero, but (B) he's not a well-known Marvel hero. It's on Rudd to make an impact with a character that not even the most devoted Marvel readers know inside and out.
So, does he feel that pressure? Does Rudd feel like he has the weight of the world on his sinewy shoulders?
"I don't at all," he said. "I'm so impressed with Marvel and how smart [Marvel president] Kevin Feige is. He's kind of a mad scientist. I feel like all the elements are there that need to be there. I feel good about it."
No pressure at all, then, and even if there is, Rudd's tuning it out. "I can't do anything about it," he reasoned. "I just try to block it out."
How Marvel-ous does this movie get?Marvel
When Edgar Wright and Marvel parted ways on "Ant-Man" due to "differences in their vision of the film," several people took that to mean Marvel wanted a movie more in line with their greater, elaborate universe. Was that wish fulfilled when the new creative team of Peyton Reed, Adam McKay and Paul Rudd entered the fray? Yes and no, according to Rudd.
"It's a part of the Marvel Universe, but it stands on its own," he said. "I think it absolutely fits in, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see Ant-Man in some other things."
"That being said," he continued, "it's a movie where if you have never seen any of the Marvel movies, you're going to totally get it."
Where is Ant-Man popping up next?Marvel
Wait a minute. Back up. Let's rewind to what Rudd just said: "I wouldn't be surprised if we see Ant-Man in some other things."
What other things is he talking about? More "Ant-Man" movies? There are no sequels on the calendar, and that doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon; Marvel's dance card is packed, with films scheduled through 2019. What about next year's "Captain America: Civil War," then? Or the two-part "Avengers: Infinity War" coming out in a couple of years?
Who knows the answer? Rudd knows — at least, he knows PART of the answer. "They've said a few things," he teased about what he's heard from Marvel. "I know some things. But I don't know everything."
Let's see how "Ant-Man" shakes out first before getting too excited about Rudd's next Marvel appearance. The movie hits theaters on July 17.