Ant-Man: Paul Rudd, Sexy and Likable in Marvel Universe Suit

ant-man_posterThe first time I put on the Ant-Man suit, it was amazing. When you wear a superhero suit like that it’s impossible not to have it alter the way you stand and the way you move around. I was really excited the first time I tried it on–Paul Rudd

Paul Rudd, who is 46, is best known for playing decent, likable guys in such romantic comedies as as This Is 40 and I Love You, Man.

 Facing the biggest challenge of his career to date, Rudd is stepping into the Ant-Man suit in order to shrink down in size


Instead of the epic battle to save the world, the climactic showdown takes place among a little girl’s play set.

ant-man_16_ruddIt took a long process to bring the picture to the screen.  Last May, Marvel and British director Edgar Wright, co-writing a screenplay with Joe Cornish, parted.  Fanboys, who loved the quirky sensibility of Wright in Shaun of the Dead, were upset.

But after Rudd and his Anchorman director, Adam McKay, co-wrote the script, Peyton Reed (Bring It On), was hired to direct the eagerly-anticipated picture, which opens July 17.

Kevins Feige told the Hollywood Reporter, “There were all these stories, the evil studio is crushing dreams and creative visions.” “Ant-Man is the movie that closes out Phase Two,” says Feige. “But there’s so much in Ant-Man that all plays into Phase Three.”

ant-man_15_ruddRudd reflects: “I don’t have an agenda where I do a comedy and say, ‘I have to do a drama next,” or “I am looking for an action movie now.’ The Marvel world wasn’t anything I thought about seriously because I guess I never imagined I’d get hired.”

Feige says that a very high bar has been set with Robert Downey in Iron Man. As a result, their philosophy was “find the best actor for the part, regardless of whether they’ve been in a movie like this before.  Great actors, charismatic actors, who can connect to the audience on a deeply emotional and on an entertaining, charismatic level and also be able to pull off the action and look cool in a suit–the inherent likability you can’t train for, and Paul has that.

ant-man_14One major element of the story is the bond between fathers and daughters. For Feige, “the relationship between Scott Lang and his daughter, Cassie, is key to his origin in the late 1970s in the comics.  The addition of Hope Van Dyne as Hank Pym’s daughter was in the early drafts.”

 Rudd sees “these two guys are birds of a feather in many regards.  If Scott is experiencing some of these things with his daughter, Hank can be a few steps ahead of the game, but have the same kind of dynamic. It seemed like interesting parallel stories to focus on, the struggles that parents and kids have.”  For Rudd, “it’s an emotional story that people can get invested in. We wanted to make sure the movie had heart and be funny with all the action.”

Ant-Man is a good example of how a movie can fulfill well two different functions. It’s absolutely a stand-alone film about Hank Pym and Scott Lang, but it is within this larger Marvel Universe.

ant-man_13_rudd_douglasOn one level, it is a heist film, and the structure of heist films is such that there is always a test run that fails.  In talking about what could be a good test run, the filmmakers entertained the idea of fighting an Avenger.

“When people heard that I was cast in this movie, I think most people’s reactions were ‘Huh? Paul Rudd as a superhero? Really?’” Rudd confesses.  After all, he is best known for his comedy work in “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Anchorman” and “Clueless”

“The majority of my career has been doing comedies and I was always that guy, so I completely understand. Playing a comic book character is different from anything I have ever done before and that was a huge appeal to me. I wanted to do something unexpected. I’m grateful that Marvel took a chance with me. It’s been really gratifying.”

Michael Peña, who plays a crook, nearly steals every scene he’s in with his dim-witted jokes. The actor did some improvising to get the big laughs in the film.  “My performance was probably 50% improv,” Peña said. “When I study a script, I want to do different takes and try to change it up. I like to rehearse a lot, so all of these ideas came up when Paul and I were rehearsing. Thank God Marvel was like, ‘If you want to try it, do it.’ Paul was really instrumental with the jokes. We’d come in the morning and we’d re-write some stuff and he was really good with that. It allowed me to open up. Paul is the best at improv. He can do it for days.”

Michael Douglas admits he did not read comic books growing up, but jumped at the chance to star in “Ant-Man”–his first superhero movie and first family-friendly film. “Most of my career has been R-rated,” Douglas said. “My children haven’t seen most of my pictures. But when I told my son about ‘Ant-Man,’ he said, ‘Dad, you have to do this.’ He was like my agent. I’m glad I took his advice. It turned out really well.”

Following Chris Pratt

To portray a superhero, Rudd listened to Chris Pratt, his “Parks and Recreation” costar, on how to bulk up and look like a fighter. “I basically didn’t eat anything for about a year,” said Rudd, who shows off his washboard abs onscreen. “I took the Chris Pratt approach to training for an action movie. Eliminate anything fun for a year and then you can play a hero.”

As for donning the Ant-Man suit, “It was just cool all the way around,” Rudd said, smiling. “I felt like the part in that thing. It was a lot of fun. It got a little toasty, but it was never debilitating.” Asked if there any problems going to the bathroom in the suit, Rudd quipped, “No. I’m thankful they planned ahead!”