Young Michelle Pfeiffer In 'Ant-Man And The Wasp' Came About Through The Coolest Movie Magic
When Ant-Man and the Wasp hits theaters on July 6, viewers will get an in-depth look at Hope van Dyne's pre-Wasp life, including more information about her mother, Janet van Dyne, aka the original Wasp. In the film, and briefly in the original 2015 Ant-Man movie, Janet was played by Michelle Pfeiffer. But, since the new movie features a younger Janet, how exactly did a young Michelle Pfeiffer pop up in Ant-Man and the Wasp?
The answer is that it's not really Michelle Pfeiffer. Well, it's sort of not really Michelle Pfeiffer. You probably won't be surprised to hear that there's some good old CGI at work here, but there also actually is another actor credited as Young Janet van Dyne in the film. Hayley Lovitt has the official credit of Young Janet, and was also credited in the first movie even though she was barely featured.
While Lovitt does have a vaguely Pfeiffer-ish look about her, she's definitely not a dead ringer, so to make Lovitt look just like Pfeiffer, CGI was used. Lovitt was more than just a stand-in for Pfeiffer's digitally de-aged face to be projected on to, though, and since she was the one actually doing the movements, it makes sense that she'd be credited as the character. Lovitt said in a 2017 interview with TV Series Hub that she actually had dialogue in the first Ant-Man movie, but it was cut because they wanted to keep the Wasp more mysterious at the time.
Lovitt is very excited about reprising the role in a much bigger way in the new movie. The 31-year-old actor, who also stars in the Marvel TV show The Gifted, tweeted on June 28, "Nice to see my name back on the big screen... #antmanandthewasp in theaters July 6th — catch me as #YoungJanet ... kind of."
Lovitt becoming a younger version of Pfeiffer is not the only time Ant-Man has used the same technology. Michael Douglas was de-aged in both films to show a younger Hank Pym (Janet's husband and Hope's father). The young version in this case was played by actor Dax Griffin, who, like Lovitt, doesn't look a ton like Douglas, but has a similar enough face shape that Douglas' face could be combined with his.
Speaking with Animation World Network in 2015, one of the visual effects supervisors who worked on Ant-Man explained how the process works. "In the case of Hank Pym, played by Michael Douglas, we discussed film references from Mr. Douglas's past work that would be good targets for the age that Pym would be," Lola VFX's Trent Claus said. "Wall Street  proved to be a good reference for how old Pym should look.”
"The younger stand-in [Dax Griffin] was a fantastic reference for our artists to compare with in regards to the skin texture, the way the face moves and reacts to the dialogue and the environment, as well as subtle differences between youth and age such as the way light interacts with the skin and the blood vessels underneath. Additionally, we'll sometimes use digital skin-grafts to help in the de-aging process ... We put a great deal of effort into analyzing each shot for each movement, mannerism or feature that defines it as a Michael Douglas performance."
And Douglas and Pfeiffer aren't the only ones who are transported back to their younger selves in Ant-Man and the Wasp. There is also a young version of Laurence Fishburne's character, Bill Foster, but his face is projected onto that of someone who actually does look like him: his son, Langston. For the body doubles, though, a lot was done in post-production. Lovitt spoke about playing Janet in first movie with Lo Spazio Bianco in 2015 and said that she didn't even get to wear the Wasp suit. "I didn’t get to wear it. Womp womp. They CGI’ed it onto me in post," she said. Lovitt also explained of her scene, "There were five cameras, and a whole separate tech crew to get our facial movements into a computer. But it was super cool. Our scene probably only took about an hour or so to shoot."
While she didn't get to shoot much the first time around, Lovitt and the Wasp are much more heavily featured in the the new movie. As a viewer you might not really see Lovitt, in a sense, but just know, she's there and kicking butt.