I’ve spoken to a number of actors who are visibly thrilled to be part of an MCU film, but on the set of Ant-Man and the Wasp, there was something about Evangeline Lilly‘s excitement and enthusiasm that was truly infectious and also kind of mirrors what I imagine her character, Hope van Dyne, might be feeling right now. After watching her father hand over his technology to a complete stranger in the first Ant-Man movie, now it’s finally her turn to don the suit and uphold her mother’s legacy as The Wasp.
Ant-Man and the Wasp takes place two years after the events of the first film, and after the events of Captain America: Civil War. Due to the Sokovia Accords, Hank (Michael Douglas) and Hope are on the run. They aren’t thrilled that Scott (Paul Rudd) ran off to team up with the Avengers, but now they need him. After years of zero communication with Hope’s mother, Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) they get a signal, a signal that suggests they still might be able to rescue her from the quantum realm.
Check out what Lilly told us about Hope’s role in this two-hander sequel, some key advice she got from Rudd, how she trained for the fight sequences in the film and much more in the set visit interview below. Ant-Man and the Wasp hits theaters on July 6th.
Question: Two years ago you were saying that you wanted Michelle Pfeiffer for the role of Janet van Dyne. I’m curious how influential you ended up being in that decision?
LILLY: Four years ago, for the record. [Laughs] Gosh, I honestly don’t think I had anything to do with the decision. I swear to god the stars just aligned in my favor. Maybe I manifested it. You know, maybe I just thought on it so long, and so hard, and wanted it so badly I made it happen. But nobody ever really officially came to me and said, ‘Evangeline, we would like the official word on your opinion for who should play the original Wasp.’ No.
Have you guys met?
LILLY: Michelle and I? We have met. I don’t know if any of you were at Comic-Con. Yes?
That was great.
LILLY: Oh my god. For you that was great; imagine how great it was for me! I was so excited. I met Michelle doing a Comic-Con video. Sometimes in this industry you get excited to meet people and then you meet them and you’re like, ‘Oh, I wish I hadn’t met them because the bubble was so much better. I want to go back to my bubble.’ She didn’t burst my bubble. She was wonderful. Very cool lady.
What about her initially made you say, ‘I want Michelle Pfeiffer for Janet?’ What quality of her acting?
LILLY: I wish it was that deep and beautiful. She’s so hot, and she was the Catwoman. And as a child I fantasized about being her as the Catwoman. Obviously Michelle Pfeiffer is an incredible actress and consummate in all ways, but this is a superhero movie, so to a certain extent it’s just like living out all of your geek fantasies. And having Michelle Pfeiffer as my mom was kind of one of my geek fantasies.
Can you tell us a little bit about Hope and Hank in this one? You were on the right side of the law in the first movie. This time you sound, from what we were told by the executive producer, a bit more maybe a little bit on the dangerous side of things.
LILLY: Well, we finished the last film, the first film, Ant-Man, on the wrong side of the law. We did implode a building. Hope and Hank at this point, I’m sure [executive producer] Stephen [Broussard] probably told you, because of Germany, because of what happened in Civil War with Captain America, they’re a little bit on the run. They’re on the lamb. We have technology that would be considered a superpower in the Marvel-verse. At that point in time, you’re not allowed to have that independently. So yeah, our life is dramatically changed not for the better, in our opinion. It’s made our methods of working very unconventional. They’ve gone from him being a stodgy-old man who just keeps to himself, to being reclusive. In a weird twist of fate, I’m like a convict on the run again. For anyone who is a Lost fan, that might ring … but I like it. It’s fun.
Now that you’re fully the Wasp, how does Wasp’s approach to being a superhero differ from Ant-Man’s approach?
LILLY: Oh my god. [Laughs] I mean, Hope van Dyne and Scott Lang are two birds of a very, very different feather. The question would be easier answered in, ‘How are they similar?’ They can both shrink. [Laughs] Of course, Scott is just incredibly, lovably easy-going and relaxed about things. Even when it seems like things are as dire as they can be, you have this sense that he’s kind of okay inside. Hope is generally not okay inside, but I think what’s exciting about playing the Wasp now is there is this incredible satisfaction in Hope, something that she has been waiting for her whole life, which is essentially an affirmation from her father has come, and it came in the form of this mantle. It came in the form of this suit. So now that she’s wearing it and she’s exercising those muscles that she has wanted to exercise all her life, she’s in a really different place emotionally when we start the film.
Hopefully you’ll be able to see that and feel that instantly. I mean, to the extent that sometimes I get nervous that the world will watch and go, ‘Is that even Hope Van Dyne? I mean, come on!’ But I think that that’s wonderful to show that people do evolve and change, and that something as profound as your relationship with your father can have an effect on and a reverberation in every aspect of your life.
Can you tell us about the different designs of the suit? What we saw at the end of the first movie, they say it’s a prototype, but do we get to see the transformation from that to what you’re wearing in this?
LILLY: Well, when we pick up this film the timeline is such that it’s two years after you last saw Hope van Dyne, so a lot has happened in two years, and a lot that you unfortunately don’t get to see, that I know personally, I would love to see. Instead of seeing her evolve into a superhero, I think that the leap we take with the audience is we all believed by the end of Ant-Man, she’s ready to be a superhero, that there doesn’t need to necessarily be that kind of origins journey of why and how and learning the skills it requires to be a superhero. But instead, we make that leap of faith of saying, ‘You know she’s kick-ass, so let her just do that and be that,’ and then let’s explore some of the other emotional through lines of her life and her story.
How did you feel putting on the suit for the first time?
LILLY: Well the first time I put on the suit it didn’t fit, so it was very anti-climactic. [Laughs] It was like, ‘This is going to be … oh, this doesn’t work. Why is my bum flat? I have a really good bum, guys. Come on! Work with me here!’ It was four months of in and out of suits and fitting and tweaking and tapering at the right spots and letting out at the right spots and making everything fit like a glove to my body, which is very, very difficult.
And our costume team are wildly talented people. We brought on this one particular seamstress, April, who has worked with dancers before and just has an uncanny sense of a woman’s body and what clothes need to do on that body to make it sing. So she has miraculously made my legs look a lot longer than they really are, which was one of my first requests. Once it was perfect, once the suit came to a place where I put it on and you could feel everyone in the room went, ‘Oh, there she is.’ And that was fucking cool. [Laughs] And then it was like they couldn’t get it off of me. I was like, ‘No, just let me wear it a little longer!’ And I’m dancing around the room. I should have been fighting around the room, but I’m not actually the Wasp. I’m Evangeline Lilly. Hi, I dance. [Laughs]
Is it comfortable? Atlanta summer, not the greatest for fully form-fitting wear, so how’s it been?
LILLY: Yeah, you know what? I think that it’s pretty darn good. It’s all leather, so clearly it’s warm. I’m wearing three layers of clothing, so obviously it’s a touch difficult to look small. I’m making sure that I’m not eating too many doughnuts in the morning and all that, but it’s pretty comfortable. It breathes, because it is natural fibers. When it’s really hot, it’s really hot, but mostly I’ve been on the soundstage in the suit. I’ve also been stunt training in the suit because I’ve been trying to condition my body to get used to the restraints, to get used to the heat, to get used to the resistance, which is really difficult. Some of the poses that Hope strikes when she fights, because every superhero should have a great fight style, and so we’ve been designing Hope’s fight style and some of the poses that would be signature to her are very difficult to accomplish in the suit because the suit really pushes back.
I kind of just stay in good shape, that’s how I like to be, that’s how I live, I always have. So I was thinking, ‘Oh, I don’t have to workout or do anything to get ready for this role. I’ll just be myself and I’m fit, so it’s fine.’ And then I put the suit on and tried to swing some punches and after 10 minutes of mitts, I was like, ‘I’m dying!’ I realized I might need to do a little more conditioning to play a superhero in a form-fitting leather suit.
Talk a bit about the regiment for stunt training and fight training on this one.
LILLY: Yeah, I learned some lessons on the first one. And mainly I also have listened to my costar, Paul Rudd, who is very candid about the fact that we are covered from head to toe. There isn’t an inch of us that shows when we are fighting because we’re in containment suits. He’s definitely had some kind of wise let-me-give-you-some-advice talks with me which is, ‘They’ll never use you,’ so you might as well let the stunt people do what they do and focus on your performance. And so a lot of my stunt training has revolved around kind of understanding the shapes and understanding the style so that when my stunt person accomplishes an inhuman feat, which they must because my character can shrink and fly and is skilled in martial arts, so what they can do is incredible, and they’re mostly on wires with this character.
I have to land that, come out and deliver a line in a way that seems to marry what she just did. So I’m learning mostly the style more than actually getting into the core basics of breaking down martial arts and breaking down how to do flips and learning how to get my legs over my head. I can’t do that. I’m not that flexible. I do mitts, because I love them and she needs to be able to punch and not look like she can’t punch. [Whispers] Not look like Scott Lang when he punches, if you know what I’m saying? [Laughs] Then also finding the personality for the stunt people. So we work together in front of a mirror and will try different things together. And often they might do a fight move that looks exactly the way you would actually want to injure someone, and I’ll say, ‘Okay, but wouldn’t it be pretty if …’ And we’ll throw some flair into there that gives it the flavor of the comic books.
I don’t know if any of you have spent some time online looking at Wasp images, but she is very, very graceful in the comic books. She’s very feminine. She’s not a kind of legs apart, grounded and gritty. She’s got pointed toes and long limbs, and she’s very elegant and I really wanted to hang on to that. Marvel are very good at modernizing their superheroes, but I always think you want to taste the original 1960’s character you first fell in love with and so we’re really trying to do that with the fight style. And I influence that a lot with the stunt people.
Talk a little bit about being in the quantum realm, because we know that the movie’s going to take place, a good portion of it, in the quantum realm.
LILLY: [Whispers] That’s not true. [Laughs] Not much of it, no. Am I allowed to expound? Can I expound?
I think you said the perfect thing.
Can you talk about how the suit actually functions because for Ant-Man he’s got a button on this thing that makes him shrink. Do you have a button and how do the wings work in conjunction with the suit itself?
LILLY: By the way, these are important questions. I was like, ‘Guys, this has to make sense or I’m not doing it.’ I need answers to these technical questions! I like living by internal rules. Even if nobody knows they’re there, I need them. So, I don’t have a button. My suit is, it’s an upgrade from Scott Lang’s suit that he was wearing, because he was wearing Hank’s original suit from the 1960’s. So what we were able to do with technology in my suit, I have blasters on my wrists. I have wings. Essentially there is a reaction system to what I am thinking. So I don’t have to do anything physically to activate shrinking, wings, blasters, growing, none of that. I just think it and it happens.
Kind of like how they controlled the ants in the first movie?
LILLY: Exactly. Yeah, similarly to that. And I think also similarly to Iron Man because you never see him press buttons or do anything. Things just happen. I kind of imagine, because I need to imagine things, that there is, you know, like when you go to the hospital and they hook up those pads and things, that there’s something hooked up to my brain through the helmet and somehow it’s reading what I’m thinking. Kind of like the new iGlasses. What are they called? The concepts for it. You know, Apple are coming out with these glasses where you should be able to just see things that you – I don’t know, sort of like early prototypes. Maybe I’m crazy. I heard something about them. Space-age stuff.
For even more from our Ant-Man and the Wasp set visit, you can browse the links below:
- ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’: 22 Things to Know About the ‘Midnight Run’-Inspired Sequel
- ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ Set Visit: Everything We Learned about the Quantum Realm
- Here’s How ‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ Fits into the MCU Timeline