With a film career spanning across five decades and an Oscar, Emmy, Golden Globe and more on his mantle, there's very little Michael Douglas hasn't done yet. He can now add telling off S.H.I.E.L.D., plotting a super-powered heist and starring in a global blockbuster to his list of accomplishments thanks to his role as Hank Pym in "Ant-Man." The film, which starred Paul Rudd as t modern day Ant-Man Scott and Evangeline Lilly as Hank's daughter Hope, capped off Phase Two of Marvel Studios' sprawling cinematic epic and grossed over $500 million worldwide.
As one of the very first superheroes introduced by Marvel in their '60s heyday, film icon Douglas brought a sense of history and gravitas to his role as the elder statesmen of size-changing super heroics. With "Ant-Man" a hit with moviegoers of all ages and ready to be enjoyed in homes, Douglas spoke with Comic Book Resources about what's next for Hank Pym and himself -- both in life and in 2018's sequel, "Ant-Man and the Wasp."
CBR News: Back during the initial press tour for "Ant-Man," you often cited your desire to do a movie that your kids and whole families could see as a reason for joining the Marvel family. Now that the film's been out a while, what's that experience been like? Are you meeting new, younger fans?
Michael Douglas: Yeah, well you know I'm at that age where I get those nice attractive mothers that walk up to me and I'm looking at them and they're looking at me and then they go, "Oh, my mother really loves you." You go, "Okay, thank you very much." You're always treated sort of like, not a put down, but like, "Of course, they wouldn't like me -- the mothers." But then the cool thing is just right after that, the kids go, "Hey mom! Isn't that the guy from 'Ant-Man'? I go, "There you go buddy!"
So yeah, it's a treat to have that. Most of my career is R-rated, so to have a whole bunch of young kids now -- without the beard -- recognize me... maybe it's my voice that gives me away. It's cool. Yeah, I loved it. I'd never witnessed or experienced, as a producer or director, going into the screening of a movie not having any idea what you're really going to see. I kinda always knew what we had while we were making the movie, but this was such a treat. Four different units filming, seeing how brilliantly they kinda put everything together seamlessly and to look over at my kid whose jaw was dropping as much as I did. I think they really were into the stuff about getting small, going small. I think it was a great way to go in this Marvel universe of testosterone and muscles -- super-strength and this and that.
Yeah, because for most of your time in "Ant-Man," it's you and Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly together doing scenes -- comparatively quiet and small in nature to a lot of the other Marvel films. Did it feel that much different doing that type of scene work as compared to the work you've done in other films?
No, that was all great! It was just that within those scenes, when you were looking at the ants carrying sugar across the table or watching the screens when there's nothing there. But Paul, you know, I knew was a wonderful comedic actor and had a great sense. Evangeline, certainly is very attractive and I knew her from "Lost" and was really impressed with what a good actress she is. We enjoyed it. I had my fair share of exposition, so I was a little jealous of Paul who could improvise a little bit and go off script. I had to get all the facts in there, which is a little more limiting.
But it was great. It was a lot like other movies, but as you say, that came with those other scenes in the laboratory and showing Evangeline my little keychain with the tank, and then cutting to the next scene with the [tank] blowing through [the wall of Pym Technologies]. But I thought they did a great job. I really enjoyed the humor. I think that was another thing that brought a breath of fresh air. You know, it's puttered along [at the box office], it opened pretty good -- it opened incredibly good as far as I'm concerned. ["Ant-Man"] is now creeping in close to $600 million now, so... [Laughs]
Yeah, it's doing pretty good! And, based on that success, they announced out of nowhere that there's a sequel coming -- "Ant-Man and the Wasp." Are you coming back for the sequel?
I'm coming back -- well, I should be coming back. We're in the midst of negotiations now, which is always nice. They're actually very sweet because, well two-fold: one, they gotta make sure, before they start writing the new script, they gotta know if you're there or not, you know what I'm saying? We're in the midst of that and I would imagine they're bouncing ideas around. Also, just in a sense of how insane the movie business has become, this is the first time I'm involved with a movie that already has a release date [July 6, 2018]. I just go, "Oh my god," it's hard to even conceive of. Filming in 2017. I love it, I had a great time [on "Ant-Man"].
There's just a great family feeling about it. These guys, this Marvel industry takes such a role that both crews and everything else -- I think there's discussion of [director] Peyton [Reed] coming back, I thought he did a great job holding things together as director. But even beyond that, him and just the whole crew, they go from one Marvel film to the other. It basically becomes their entire career, so there's a family feeling and continuity, which just always makes it easier. You don't have to go through the introductions. That's the beauty of sequels with the crew and having the cast [back together] is great.
I was really impressed with Evangeline [Lilly] and Paul [Rudd]. Michael was unbelievable, Michael PeÃ±a; I'm sure we'll get him back, he brought some great comic relief. And we'll miss Corey [Stoll] unless they find some incredible way to scrape him off the wall or something.
Like you were saying, you had to do a lot of exposition in "Ant-Man." Is there anything you want to see Hank Pym do in the sequel now that all the exposition is out of the way?
I hope he has a little more humor. I'd like to see a little more repartee with that younger generation, i.e. Paul and Evangeline. I'd like to see a little more kind of, you know, irony and a little more dark humor in terms of what I think about their enthusiastic ideas. Kind of that cynicism -- some humorous cynicism would be wonderful.
Do you have any hope of maybe getting to do some of the shrinking-down scenes yourself in the next movie?
After they made me thirty years younger [in "Ant-Man"], facially, I mean, why not? Maybe I could get to be completely pumped up -- yeah. I was just looking at the movie "Trumbo," which they have a guy playing my father [Kirk Douglas] forty years ago and they did a pretty good job. Hey, anything is possible! This is what I always envisioned years ago when holograms first started, that our new stars of the 21st century were going to be amalgamations of Paul Newman and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jack Nicholson's humor and, you know you can make anything you want. We'll see what happens.
Lastly, if everything firms up with "Ant-Man and the Wasp," we know you'll be spending 2017 filming it. What else do you have coming up?
I got one picture that I was supposed to do this fall, called "Severance," that looks like it's going to be going at the beginning of next year. I'm doing a lot of production stuff; I produce, I got a production company. I'm enjoying this whole cable era. I got a first look deal with HBO and some of those movies that I did as an independent -- "Solitary Man," "King of California," "And So It Goes" -- they're so tough to do as independent movies, they get no real distribution releases. This whole Netflix/HBO area is more interesting. I'm working on a few series ideas I'm producing, not performing. I'm also very involved with the United Nations Messengers of Peace and disarmament, elimination of nuclear weapons, trying to get rid of illegal arms. I'm now involved in interfaith marriages [advocacy] and I'm building a hotel in Bermuda. So I'm busy! But I try to pick a spot and find things that are fun to do, and if not then I just stay in the house.
"Ant-Man" is available digitally today and on Blu-ray on December 8.