‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ Interview With Evangeline Lilly And Why She Made Me Cry

When (and not if) you see Ant-Man in the Wasp when it opens in theaters July 6, you’re going to see a major shift in roles in the MCU. The follow-up to 2015’s Ant-Man, starring Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly, is the first Marvel film in their 20 films to feature a woman superhero in the title. It’s also promised to be a major game changer for the MCU going forward.

Our exclusive interview with Ant-Man and the Wasp star Evangeline Lilly

Now that the Wasp is part of the title and contributes equally, if not a bit more, to the action in the new Marvel film, we wondered how much of the action-filled stunts Evangeline Lilly was responsible for.

Well, I didn’t lift a semi-truck! That was Mister Rudd,” she says, laughing. “Actually, me and my team of incredible stunt women, the CGI crew, the directors – I mean, it was such a collaborative effort.

She did not shy away from giving credit where credit was due when it came to her stunts for the film.

This film, in a way, I was like, ‘Come on, guys, give Ant-Man a little more credit, he’s pretty bad-ass,’” she said, joking. “But, it was really cool that [Marvel] wanted to honor this moment where a female superhero is being titled and billed, and I think Marvel is just absolutely hell-bent and passionate right now about representing women as fierce and capable, and as equals to men.

Did you know? Evangeline has two main stunt doubles credited for her Ant-Man and the Wasp stunts. Renae Moneymaker was her stunt double for the first Ant-Man film and is also a stunt double for actress Brie Larson in the upcoming Marvel film, Captain Marvel.

Ingrid Kleing was a stunt double for Evangeline Lilly in The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.

Why Her Role As The Wasp Is Important For Girls

I used to fantasize about being Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman,” Lilly admitted. “I was like, obsessed with her, partly because it’s Michelle Pfeiffer in a skin-tight leather costume, owning it, and being fierce as shit. But, also, I think it was because there wasn’t a lot to choose from, you know? There just weren’t very many female superheroes. It was mostly male superheroes.

Evangeline Lilly said that when she and her sisters were young, they were pretending to be superheroes like Spider-Man and Batman because there weren’t female superheroes in the forefront like there are now, thanks in large part to Marvel Studios.

But, she says, her powerful female superhero isn’t just inspiring young girls.

I had a moment recently where my 7-year-old son was pretending to be the Wasp. I still get goose bumps when I tell that story. It makes me – it chokes me up, because that’s a cultural shift, for a little boy to pretend to be a female superhero. This is no small thing.

There have been female superheroes in the MCU the whole time,” she said “and they’re amazing, and they’re strong, and kick ass, and all of those things. But I think what this moment in our culture, with #MeToo and #TimesUp… we know we’ve made some progress, and that’s great, but we’re still not equal, and that’s clear by the fact that [Marvel has] made 20 movies, and never had a female in the title. So, this is a big moment, and it is a big deal, and I don’t want to downplay it. I want to celebrate it and be excited about it.

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Evangeline Lilly On Working With Her Idol

I was like, if anyone in the world says that I can pass as her daughter, I’m going to kiss them forever,” Lilly said, smiling from ear to ear, as if the appeal of working with actress Michelle Pfeiffer never quite wore off. “It was a dream to work with Michelle! The weird thing is, as an actor – and maybe you guys experience this as journalists now and meeting actors – is that you can be obsessed with someone on the screen, and then you meet them, and they just destroy it for you. And you’re just like, ‘I wish I’d never met you.’

Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman in 1992's Batman Returns

“I’m like, ‘I want you to be perfect,’ and that’s impossible. Who can live up to that? Michelle can. She can! She’s perfect, like, there’s no flaws. She’s nice. She’s generous. She’s smart. She’s funny. She’s intelligent. She’s considerate. She’s talented, and of course, she is the hottest sixty-something – or however old she is – you’re ever gonna meet. And, so, playing her daughter was an incredible honor, and I had to just bite my tongue, because every day, I wanted to just be like, ‘Can you be my mentor?’

Evangeline Lilly And The Legendary Michael Douglas

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Working with Michael Douglas – I was so astounded by him in the first film, because I was the opposite with him,” Lilly admitted. “I was kind of ignorant to him. I watched him in Romancing the Stone, and was like, ‘Cool. Great romance. He’s cute.’ I was eight, ya know? I didn’t keep up with his career. I just knew he was a big movie star. But I wasn’t a Michael Douglas of like, somebody who’d watched all of his movies, and knew his work.

Evangeline Lilly said that when Michael Douglas first signed on to play Hank Pym, she thought his status might just lend help to boosting their box office numbers; his career wasn’t one that she followed other than watching a few movies in which he starred.

Michael Douglas in 1984's Romancing The Stone

Then I started working with him and was like, ‘Oh. Whoa. He’s so good.’ He’s such a charismatic, present, powerful human being that when he starts to perform, he just changes the molecules of the room. You’re suddenly transported to the place you’re pretending to be, and so when I read the script for the second film, and I found out that I was going to get an enormous amount of work with him… that was the thing that I was the most excited about was to get to have more screen time with Michael.

“We’re still not equal, and that’s clear by the fact that [Marvel has] made 20 movies, and never had a female in the title. So, this is a big moment, and it is a big deal, and I don’t want to downplay it. I want to celebrate it and be excited about it.

Evangeline Lilly Wants To See An All Female Superhero Movie

I want all of the women in the MCU in a movie together,” Lilly said, matter-of-factly. “All of that’s just rumor and gossip. None of that comes from a real place, but I’m just gonna keep perpetuating the rumor, because then maybe it’ll really happy.

Lilly said she knows that Marvel love their fans and really listens to them. But, there is one woman of Marvel that she’s hoping to see in the female-led film.

Danai Gurira as Okoye in Marvel's Black Panther is someone who Evangeline Lilly wants to see in an all girls MCU project

I have a girl crush on Okoye,” Lilly says. “I mean, come on. The thing is, Denai [Gurira, who plays Okoye in Black Panther] is Okoye! She’s so fierce and strong and present, and convicted, and talented. She’s my queen. I always call her my queen. And I would love to see the Wasp and Okoye kick some ass together.

Speaking of Okoye and Black Panther, when she attended the Avengers: Infinity War premiere, Lilly was so involved in the story line, that “you could not shut me up,” she admitted.

She said there was a moment in Infinity War when we got a little taste of an all-female fight scene. Scarlet Witch is knocked into a trench and told by Proxima Midnight that she’ll “die alone.” Black Widow tells Proxima Midnight that “she’s not alone” and both she and Okoye defend and protect Scarlet Witch.

Literally, in the theater, at the premiere in my gown, I go, “Fuck yeah!

What reaction Evangeline Lilly had to her favorite scene in Avengers: Infinity War
Photo: MomStart.com

Why Evangeline Lilly Doesn’t Work For A Rock Hard Superhero Body

I actually spent way less time worrying about getting my body rock hard and developing visual muscles as I spend in front of a mirror with my stunt doubles, making sure that we didn’t just take a dude and put him in a woman’s body,” she says of her superhero body image. “I didn’t want to send the message that in order to be powerful, strong, capable, and tough, you have to be masculine, and macho, and a dude.

I wanted to show that we are strong because of our femininity, not in spite of it. I wanted to show that, when Hope was Hope, and she was emotional and vulnerable and smiling and pleasant and happy and not like, just a badass bitch. I wanted to show that when she was fighting, she was incorporating grace and elegance and femininity into the fight; it’s ballet.”

“I wanted to show that we are strong because of our femininity, not in spite of it. I wanted to show that, when Hope was Hope, and she was emotional and vulnerable and smiling and pleasant and happy and not like, just a badass bitch.”

How Casting Paul Rudd Convinced Evangeline Lilly To Take The Role

When I first got approached about Ant-Man in the first place, my manager said, ‘They’re interested in you for this role. Would you be interested?’ It was like, ‘No, I don’t really want to do a superhero movie. That doesn’t appeal to me.’ I didn’t like superhero movies because I’d never really seen Marvel’s superhero movies,” she admitted.

He was like, ‘Wait. Wait. Hear me out, hear me out. They’re gonna cast Paul Rudd in the lead’,” she continued, sharing her conversation.

I was like, ‘Hold the phone, wait, what?! Paul Rudd’s gonna be a superhero? I’m in!’ Whatever they’re doing, it’s ridiculous, and I love it!

Photo: Ben Rothstein  |  ©Marvel Studios 2018

Lilly said it was that conversation – or something like it – with her manager that piqued her interest. She said she started watching Marvel movies, read the script, and became definitively interested in the project.

I was a huge Paul Rudd fan,” Lilly told us. “I mean, nobody in this room is not a Paul Rudd fan. Everybody loves Paul Rudd; he’s so lovable, and – this is, maybe not giving him enough credit, but I really mean this – he’s just so freaking talented, but my favorite thing about working with Paul is watching the movie. Because I watch it and I fall in love with him all over again.

Lilly continued, saying “In Ant-Man, when Darren shot ANTony, and totally charming and incredible Paul Rudd goes, ‘Oh. You’re gonna pay for that.’ I was like, ‘I love him. I love him.’

[click_to_tweet tweet=”The actor that convinced @EvangelineLilly to join the #MCU and the conversation that changed her life. https://wp.me/p4pzDW-4cE #AntManAndTheWasp #AntManAndTheWaspEvent ” quote=”The actor that convinced Evangeline Lilly to join the #MCU and the conversation that changed her life.” theme=”style1″]

How Evangeline Lilly Inspires Literally Everyone

I used to be called Brainiac,” Lilly said about her persona before hitting puberty. “That was sort of my identity. I had freckles. I had buck teeth. I was scrawny. I had a totally flat chest, and I got As. I was on the student council and on the soccer team, and in the plays – my thing was overachievement,” she shared with us.

And then I hit puberty and all of a sudden, my entire identity according to the rest of the world was wrapped up in what I looked like. I had all kinds of boys touch me in ways I didn’t want to be touched, and I had all kinds of girls hate me in ways that I didn’t want to be hated. And I decided that I needed to just not stand out. Like, just don’t be super smart. Don’t be talented. Don’t stand out, because if you do, you’re just gonna get hurt.

Evangeline Lilly spend her high school years dumbing herself down, she said, and trying to pretend to be a wallflower.

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Clearly, I’m not a wallflower,” she said, laughing. “That built up into a lot of pain. And at one point, I had been scouted [for modeling and acting] on multiple occasions… in my twenties, and I had turned down the opportunity, saying, ‘I’m more than just this; that’s not me.’

One day, out of the blue, Lilly said someone asked her what she was afraid of. When she said there was nothing she was afraid, that she just didn’t want to be defined by her looks, the person said to her something that changed her life going forward.

This person said, ‘I think you’re afraid of your own greatness.’ I erupted into heaving sobs, and I couldn’t stop crying,” Lilly said. “and something had broken open in me that I didn’t even realize that I had been doing. II had to examine what that pain was. And when I did, I realized how much I had been hiding, and how much I had been trying not to shine, and I decided that I would start just letting my light shine.

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I wanted to just exercise my brightness… to be bold and bright. I’d never really thought about the fact that auditions can lead to jobs. That hadn’t factored in. It was just like, ‘I’m just gonna go out and just shine!’ You know?

Lilly went for her first audition in January of 2004 and in March of that same year, she was in Hawaii, shooting the hit television show Lost.

“[I was told] ‘they want to bring you to LA for a show.’ I was like, ‘What kind of test? Like, multiple choice?’ I literally knew nothing about the business; I was not thinking about jobs. When I got a job, it was sort of just like, ‘Oh, shit, okay. I guess this is what I’m doing now.’

Evangeline Lilly definitely gets the chance to shine, and be featured as part of the title, in Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp. It opens in theaters on July 6 and tickets are available NOW.

Which of Evangeline Lilly’s movie or TV roles are you most a fan of? Let us know in the comments below!

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