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AN INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL PENA AND TIP ‘T.I.’ HARRIS FOR THE HOME ENTERTAINMENT RELEASE OF MARVEL’S ANT-MAN
The latest evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe introduces the newest member of the Avengers: Marvel’s Ant-Man. Armed with the amazing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd) joins forces with his new mentor Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) to protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit. Full of humor and heart, as well as awesome special effects, this action-packed adventure will shortly be released on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD – complete with never-before-seen deleted scenes, making-of featurettes, a gag reel and audio commentary.
To celebrate the exciting in-home release, we talk to actors Michael Pena and Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris – who play Luis and Dave in Marvel’s Ant-Man – to discover their thoughts on the daring heist adventure…
Q: How much did you know about the Marvel universe before you signed up to appear in Marvel’s Ant-Man? Are you both comic book fans?
T.I.: The only comic books I’ve ever had much experience reading are The X-Men and Wolverine. I didn’t know much about Ant-Man before this, but I do now. And I love it.
Michael: I didn’t much about Ant-Man either, but I was a huge Marvel fan. I knew about Iron Man and Thor and Wolverine and Colossus; I knew about all those superheroes. Spider-Man seems to have a different tone to the pure Marvel stuff, but I really enjoyed the Guardians Of The Galaxy and Iron Man movies. I love the special effects and how it seems very real, but at the same time it still lives within the realm of Marvel, which has got to be a lot of work. I think they nail it every time, especially with this movie.
Q: How much Ant-Man research did you undertake when you signed up for the movie, or did you just take your notes from the script?
Michael: I usually just try to do whatever’s on the page because I’ve done research before – including a lot of analysis – but you end up with conflicting data. To me, the script is king.
T.I.: I did some research. I didn’t read actual Ant-Man comic books – but I found out about the Pym Particles and how they help the Marvel universe; I’ve had that much explained to me. My buddy is an avid comic book fan, so he puts me up on game. And David Dastmalchian [who plays Kurt] is a huge comic book fan, so he shared his knowledge and wisdom on the universe with us, too.
Q: What do you think of the family theme that runs through Marvel’s Ant-Man?
Michael: I think it works really well. There are times in action movies where it just doesn’t work, but Paul Rudd did a really great job with that; he really pulled it off. I was really impressed. It was emotional, even for me. I have a six-year-old kid and I thought he just knocked it out of the park.
Q: Marvel’s Ant-Man is about to be released on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD. How does it feel to know that fans will finally be able to watch the movie in the comfort of their own home?
Michael: I love watching Blu-rays, so I think it’s great. I especially love all the extra features you get with the Blu-ray release. My son always wants to know how they created a movie and how they shot certain scenes, so it’s always great to see all the people it takes to make a movie like this. It’s fun to head behind the scenes.
Q: What can audiences expect from the deleted scenes and gag reels of Marvel’s Ant-Man?
T.I.: I love watching deleted scenes and I’m sure there will be a lot on the Blu-ray. We have a fun dance sequence that took place in Luis’ apartment, and I hope that’s on there. In the scene, we were coming back from a night on the town. I won’t spoil it, but we ran into some fortunate circumstances and we were really excited. It was a very positive time for us. We felt like we’d made it, so we came home and set the dance floor on fire. The entourage dances! Who’s the best dancer in the entourage? [Pauses] Well, it’s not Michael. I’ll just say that.
Q: Take us back to the very beginning… How did you both become involved with Marvel’s Ant-Man?
T.I.: I got a phone call. I was asked if I was available to come and read for a part. No one told me what the part was or what the scenes would involve, so there was no preparation for me – but I made myself available at Marvel’s request. I went and read some scenes that were not my scenes, and they liked me enough to call me back and check my availability. From there on, I was in the Marvel Universe.
Michael: I got invited into the movie pretty early on; I was attached for seven or eight months before we even started shooting. Every time they rewrote the script, I was really glad that the character stayed in there.
Q: How much did your characters change from their iterations in the first movie script?
Michael: They changed a little after the director, Peyton Reed, came on board. It was really interesting because we would get rewrites and when you read them out of context, you have no idea what’s going on. But Marvel’s really good at putting all the moving parts together. They wrote a bunch of stuff for me that wasn’t in the original script, so I was very happy. I think I only had a handful of scenes in the first script, but then it turned into a lot more. That was great for me because I really enjoy playing this character.
T.I.: For me, I had pretty much a blank canvas to do whatever I felt was right. They allowed us to make our characters what we felt they should be. The only solid piece of background we were given was that they met in prison and they were trying to keep their lives on the straight and narrow.
Q: Why do you like the most about your characters in the movie?
T.I.: I like that Dave doesn’t talk unless he has something to say. In the movie, there aren’t many words of insignificance that Dave speaks – whereas Luis does a lot of talking. Dave is straight to the point. He’s no nonsense and he doesn’t really communicate with many people outside of his circle.
Q: Was the non-speaking aspect of the role difficult for you to portray?
T.I.: No, not really. I think it provides a mysterious strength. I like it.
Q: What do you like about your character, Michael?
Michael: I like how enthusiastic Luis is about life. I like how he’s almost innocent, but at the same time he can be dangerous. I really like that dichotomy. I like that he’s trying to be good, but he’s had a shady past.
Q: Did anyone in particular inspire your portrayal of Luis?
Michael: In the movie, I’m imitating somebody I know who lives in Chicago. It’s a very real person who lives on the south side. He talks the way my character talks, which added some humor to it. I just started imitating this guy, which I thought would be funny – and I think it worked.
Q: Audiences have praised Marvel’s Ant-Man as the most comedic Marvel movie to date. How does that make you feel?
Michael: It would be badass if this was ranked the funniest Marvel movie. That would be bad to the bone! That would be really awesome. I thought Guardians Of The Galaxy was pretty funny, though. The raccoon was really funny, the big guy was really funny and the tree was funny.
T.I.: Personally, I think Ant-Man is their funniest and their most grounded movie. You know what? It’s amazing to be a part of this cast. I feel like they broke the mold with Ant-Man and set Marvel on a different path.
Q: When did you discover you had great comedic skills?
Michael: I wouldn’t say I have comedy chops. I guess you get lucky with good writing because I don’t think I’m a comedian by any stretch of the imagination.
T.I.: I just think that we all enjoyed working with one another. We had an incredible time and great chemistry. The chemistry we developed on screen is definitely the driving factor to the humor in a lot of it.
Q: How much did Paul Rudd inject into the humor of the movie?
Michael: Paul Rudd is great because he’s down for whatever, man. Paul’s got a very specific brand of humor. It’s really unpredictable – and a couple of times I wasn’t able to get through a take. It’s very loose, but it was very interesting because it’s such a big movie. I was surprised how loose we were, but I’m glad with the outcome. It’s great.