Michelle Pfeiffer: It's incredible that I get to play a superhero at this phase
The actor plays Janet van Dyne, mother of the current Wasp aka Hope van Dyne, in the upcoming Marvel film, Ant-Man and the Wasp
The twentieth film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man and the Wasp, is all set to hit the screens this Friday in the US, and on July 13 in India. This sequel to 2015's Ant-Man, directed by Peyton Reed, stars Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly. Michelle Pfeiffer plays Janet van Dyne, the original Wasp, and in this film, mother of the current Wasp who is lost in the quantum realm.
Excerpts from a conversation with the actor follow:
What was your initial exposure to Marvel?
I discovered Marvel through my children. I first watched Spider-Man and then Iron Man, both of which I really loved. Then I saw Ant-Man, and loved it too. At first I thought Ant-Man? I was not familiar with the superhero. I was a little skeptical, but I really was pleasantly surprised. I’ve always been a Paul Rudd fan, and the film was smart and funny, and also grounded in reality in a way that set it apart from a lot of the other superhero films.
What’s it like to play a superhero?
I wasn’t familiar with Janet van Dyne before this, and I loved that she’s such a seminal character in the Marvel comics and that she was one of the founding members of the Avengers. It’s incredible that I get to play a superhero at this phase in my life, and I think the message that it sends to women of all ages and all demographics is that we are still kicking a** and that we’re strong. I love sending that message out.
What’s Janet’s part in this sequel?
Many years ago, she got stuck in the quantum realm. Hope and Hank (Janet's husband, played by Michael Douglas) set out to find her because they have never given up hope that she’s still alive. And so throughout the film, it’s really their journey and their struggle to find a way to bring her back.
Peyton Reed and I had a lot of conversations early on about my character. He told me that Janet was a warrior and that she is an important and brilliant scientist, and that she hasn’t been just wasting away in the quantum realm. In the film, she is a lot fiercer than the original concept of this character, which was exciting to me.
What makes Peyton stand out from the other directors you have worked with?
Peyton has this exceptional quality of boyishness and a sort of childlike enthusiasm along with seriousness and attention to detail. Not all directors really have that. As an actor, I live in fear that I’m going to be missing something, but with him in charge, he’s not going to let you miss anything.
Tell us a bit about the threat posed by Ghost/Ava (the villain).
She’s pretty fierce and dangerous. While Hank and Hope are trying to find Janet in the quantum realm, Ghost/Ava also wants to find Janet but for a very different reason. Part of Hope and Hank’s journey is to prevent Ghost from getting to Janet first, at great peril to themselves, because she’s very, very dangerous with the powers that she possesses.
I think the audience will understand Ava’s perspective, because she’s desperate. I think people will be horrified and terrified by her, but also understand her desperation. And it’s really that desperation that leads her to her actions.
What do you think Paul Rudd and Michael Douglas bring to the film?
Paul Rudd is unique. He has a sense of humour that’s all his own. He has this incredibly dry, sweet, kind of wicked sense of humour behind that very boyish face.
Michael Douglas is charming and witty too. He exudes intelligence. He portrays Hank Pym’s arrogance but is able to strike a balance that still makes Hank likable. I think that’s a really hard line to walk as an actor. Then he’s also able to show vulnerability when he needs to. I think you’ll see more vulnerability with him in this sequel than perhaps you’ve seen before.
And there’s Hope too.
She is really intelligent, and it’s an attribute hard to convey. Evangeline, who plays the character, has a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm as. She also has humour, and emotional depth. All of those things are important when you are playing a character like Hope.
Any parting thoughts?
Oh, I loved the sets. The lab was spectacular. It’s futuristic and realistic. I love being a part of the Marvel family. I loved making this film, working with these actors, and playing this part. I feel very lucky.