‘Ant-Man’ Star Corey Stoll Admits He Heard ‘Nightmares’ About Working on a Marvel Movie
Ant-Man star Corey Stoll could’ve blown me off. Somehow his appointment to call me got lost while he was doing press for the latest Marvel movie, and he had already wrapped for the day and was headed home. But instead of canceling, Stoll called while he was driving home, and even after a long day of movie promotion, you could still tell how excited he is to be in this movie. He’s not one of those actors who pretends he’s a big geek while pushing a superhero movie, but in reality has never read a comic cook: he’s the real deal. In fact, as he says below, he originally wanted to be a comic-book artist.
I spent the afternoon talking to Stoll about his role in Marvel’s latest film, whether he thought about leaving the film when Edgar Wright was replaced and how he was surprised as anyone else how much he enjoyed working on it.
You were a big comic book fan growing up?
Yeah, I wanted to be a comic book artist for a while. I would go to New York Comic-Con, which was a lot smaller back then. It was basically me and the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons.
I remember it was mostly artists and vendors selling back issues.
I was half-there to meet the artists and get an original piece of art or something, or get my comic book signed. And, then I was also there to trade comic books and lose all my money.
Who was your inspiration as an artist?
I remember when Todd McFarlane was doing Spider-Man, I was in love with that style. Frank Miller is really known for his writing, but I really think he’s one of my favorite artists as well. I love Mike Mignola, too.
Evangeline Lilly had said that she thought about leaving when she found out Edgar Wright had left Ant-Man. Did you have that same feeling?
I was just mostly amazed that they were able to find somebody and keep the ship moving. I was more nervous that the whole film wouldn't happen. I should’ve known better. Marvel’s not gonna let something like that slow them down.
Were you following the daily updates on the search for a new director?
Daily, it was hourly! It was very stressful. This was a very big job for me to get and I had to let go of another very big job to do this, so it was definitely nerve-wracking. But, I went to Atlanta to meet [director] Peyton [Reed] shortly after he signed on and was instantly put at ease, just by his ease, which was supernatural. It was remarkable how calm and ready for it he was from the very beginning. He had a very specific and well-articulated opinion about the script and what he felt should be changed. He just knew his stuff.
And, he's a guy like you or I — an actual, legitimate comic book fan.
Yeah. He's been writing comic book movies since he was in high school. It's almost eerie how ready he was for the job.
How much, if anything, did they change about your character from Edgar’s original script?
I don't think this script has changed any more than any other Marvel script has. This isn’t a special case of a script being one way and then suddenly going into emergency mode. That’s just the Marvel way. Nothing is set until it gets to theaters.
Well after I had done all my ADR and saw what I thought were finalized special effects, now certain scenes have been completely changed. What has happened in the past couple weeks has been kinda incredible. Fully rendered special effects shots that have just changed in a matter of days.
I think the general movement of the script was towards just deepening the relationships. A lot was said about it's connections about the Marvel Universe. It's in there, but of all the post-Iron Man 1 movies, this still has the least amount of connections to the other movies.
But, in terms of my character, they made the motivation more personal instead of doing it for glory, money or power.
There were early reports that Patrick Wilson was a part of the cast and even associated with your character, but obviously he’s no longer with the film. What happened there?
He was playing a role... [long pause] I don't know if I should talk about that. Uh... It was — I don't think I should comment on that.
Your character in the film is very broad. What kind of specific direction did you get from Peyton.
There are multiple different Darren Cross’ that are in the can. One advantage of having a big budget is that you can do a lot of takes. And we did. For every scene, there’s a take where I'm really broad and then there are other takes where I’m cold and calculated. We really tried to give the editors as much ammunition as possible. You really don’t know what the movie is going to need until it's cut together. And the villain is a delicate thing because you want the villain to be having fun and funny and weird. You want to love to hate him. But you can't make him too ridiculous without risking him not being scary. So, we were very cognizant of trying to find a balance there. But, my job was just to have as much as possible.
Did that work? I know some actors, like Idris Elba, have described making a Marvel movie as “torture”.
There were some days— The hardest days where when I was Yellowjacket full-size. That means I have to be on-set in costume and there are times you really feel idiotic. And, at that point, Darren is full-on crazy. Those were the only days that were really tough. But, for the most part, it was really a much more pleasant experience than I was, frankly, expecting. I had heard nightmares about what it can be like to film these movies and it was just about as much fun as I’ve ever had working on a movie.
So when you’re filming as Yellowjacket you were actually wearing the suit?
When I’m small it’s all mo-cap. Because everything works differently for when you’re shrunk. It wouldn’t really work to be in costume. And pretty much when you’re in small, you’re in a wide shot. That’s something they discovered while they were working on the animatics — if you have a close-up when you’re small, you can't really tell the scale, so you need a big, wide shot. When I was bigger, I was still mostly wearing the (mo-cap) pajamas, which was obviously much more comfortable than this crazy suit of armor. But you miss out on the experience.
And now, the kid who went to New York Comic-Con to trade comic books has his own superhero action figure.
I could not be more excited about that. It’s a little obscene.
Ant-Man opens in theaters on July 17.