Why Evangeline Lilly Nearly 'Quit Ant-Man' & What It Took to Win Her Back
If you were wondering how things looked behind the scenes last May when Edgar Wright parted ways with Marvel, one perspective's finally been revealed. Evangeline Lilly, starring in Ant-Man as Hope Van Dyne, spoke to Buzzfeed about how she came to the project — and how she almost walked away after Wright's dramatic exit. Ant-Man will likely be a point of contention among Marvel fans (and Wright fans) at least until the movie comes out this Spring, but perhaps Lilly's words will sooth some who feared that the new script and direction might not be up to snuff.
First, on how Wright lured her to the project:
Initially, I was like, no way. No way. And then they said, ‘Paul Rudd’s playing the lead.’ And I was like, ‘Oh sh*t. I love Paul Rudd. I really want to work with him!’ So I was like, ‘OK, well, send me the script. I’ll read it and I’ll consider it.’ And then I started watching Marvel [Studios] movies, which I hadn’t done before. … I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to movies — like, the popcorn-munching movies, I never go see them. I was pleasantly surprised. ... I thought, these are actually incredible — they’re making fantastic films.
And Wright's concept drew her in, too:
I thought Edgar’s idea to blend the [Hank and Scott] stories was brilliant. You’re going to have fans up there who insist that you tell the story of Hank Pym, and fans up there who will be more on the Scott Lang side of it. … I think we are going to come close to pleasing them all. And what’s cool is that, you know, Janet Van Dyne is my mom. Hank Pym is my father. I was raised by two superheroes. I’m no schlump. I’m a pretty smart, competent, capable, kick-ass female. She’s very cool.
And then, suddenly, Wright was gone. Her reaction was not dissimilar to my own:
[I was] shocked. And mortified, at first. Actually, I wouldn’t say mortified. You know, a creative project is a moving target. You never end up where you start. But we all, I think, signed on very enthusiastically with Edgar. We were excited to work with Edgar. We were fans of Edgar. So when the split happened, I was in the fortunate position where I had not signed my contract yet. So I had the choice to walk away, and I almost did. Because I thought, Well, if it’s because Marvel are big bullies, and they just want a puppet and not someone with a vision, I’m not interested in being in this movie. Which is what I was afraid of.
Lilly refused to sign her contract until she'd read the new script — which didn't come until the day before her first fitting for her character.
I saw with my own eyes that Marvel had just pulled the script into their world. I mean, they’ve established a universe, and everyone has come to expect a certain aesthetic [and] a certain feel for Marvel films. And what Edgar was creating was much more in the Edgar Wright camp of films. They were very different. And I feel like, if [Marvel] had created Edgar’s incredible vision — which would have been, like, classic comic book — it would have been such a riot to film [and] it would have been so much fun to watch. [But] it wouldn’t have fit in the Marvel Universe. It would have stuck out like a sore thumb, no matter how good it was. It just would have taken you away from this cohesive universe they’re trying to create. And therefore it ruins the suspended disbelief that they’ve built.
After that she met with current Ant-Man director Peyton Reed, and, as she put it, "signed on and I never looked back.”
I'll wait to pass judgment on the fate of Ant-Man until I actually, you know, see Ant-Man, but as someone who has been stridently Team Wright, Lilly's assurances did peak my interest. Wright certainly is an auteur of a director, so it shouldn't be that surprising that his voice might have overtaken things. Full closer on this particular issue with Marvel, though, probably won't come until the day Wright decides to speak in detail about his experiences.
Lilly is a woman who enters into projects with high standards — I highly encourage you to read the rest of her Buzzfeed interview to become even more acquainted with that — so here's to hoping Ant-Man lives up to those. Lord knows the rest of the world will be watching with just as much baited breath.