Corey Stoll is handsome, charming and exudes a fun energy as soon as walks into the room, so it’s difficult to picture him as a villain. But in Ant-Man, in theaters July 17th, he plays Darren Cross/Yellowjacket brilliantly.
He’s not your traditional bad guy. It’s his charm and smile, in fact, that makes the character work so well. You almost sympathize with his desperate attempts for love and approval, but still cheer in the end when he meet his inevitable comic book doom.
Last month, we sat down with Corey to talk about what it was like in his first motion capture role, why Spiderman is his favorite Marvel character, and why he preferred to play the villain.
Q: Michael Douglas just said that you were the best villain. How difficult was it to play such an amazing villain persona?
Corey Stoll: “It really wasn’t, it was not hard at all. My first day of shooting was sort of a microcosm of what the whole shoot would be. In the morning, it was all motion capture – totally abstract – just stunts. It was like being in a silent film where you run this way and then duck and then pick up a toy train and throw it and it was just, you know, pure play. And that was really fun, and then the afternoon was this very quiet scene with Michael Douglas where I show up at his house unannounced and it’s our really most sort of intense scene.
It was just such a great way to start because there are these two extremes of what this role would be. And, yeah, it was just fun. I think as we went on, there was a lot of, you know, with Peyton trying to calibrate. We want to make sure this character is scary but I also loved how… what a loser he was. And he has this incredible, you know, he’s – he’s the least cool guy in the world. He wants to be Tony Stark. He wants to be the coolest guy in the world.
He’s puffing himself up with these Tom Ford suits and driving an Aston Martin, but he doesn’t really… he knows that he’s not that guy. And that’s the irony; he’s trying to buff himself up in the end to impress this father figure and it’s exactly the opposite of what a father figure wants. So, I think the script was really smart about giving very real, playable motivations.”
Q: Were you a Marvel fan be your role in Ant-Man?
CS: “Yeah, yeah, in Junior High School and High School, I was really into comic books starting with the real Super Hero Marvel Comic Books and then getting into some sort of darker stuff but yeah, Spiderman, X-Men, and all that stuff.”
Q: Who was your favorite comic book character growing up?
CS: “You know, I really bounced around but I would definitely say Spiderman; he was just the guy, I think, that as a high school student you could identify with the most. And also just the New Yorkness. You know, I liked Batman and Superman but they were all in these sort of fictional cities and Spiderman was New York. You know, as a kid from Queens, that fantasy of being able to swing through the buildings that I see every day was really cool.”
Q: What was it like working with the motion capture; was it different from what you’ve done before?
CS: “The closest thing that it was to, you know, to dance or… it’s so funny because it’s this huge, you know, all these resources – I don’t know how many 100 million dollars this movie is but – in the end, it was just basically the same feeling as when I was, you know, 10 years old playing in the playground. You just sort of, use your imagination and have fun.
And the camera picks it all up and they just feed that into a computer and then thousands of people all over the world, you know, type away at the computers and make it really cool. But my part of that job is just, you know, play.”
Q: Can you share with us what it was like wearing and maneuvering the Yellowjacket suit?
CS: “No, actually I did two separate trips down to Atlanta just to try on different versions of the suit and it just never looked right. And I remember the first time I tried it on, everybody was trying to convince themselves that it looked cool. Yeah, yeah, it’s gonna be great, just a little CGI over there and you know, it looked great. And I was, I just felt like a Power Ranger. Luckily, you know, smarter heads prevailed and they just did it all CGI.”
Q: How do you feel about the final look of the suit in the film?
CS: “I think it’s awesome, yeah! I’m so excited the way it works. And you know, I was there, I know I wasn’t wearing something, but you look at it, it really looks real. It’s pretty amazing.”
Q: What was your favorite scene to shoot?
CS: “The big, sort of climax scene in the in the Future’s vault where I have sort of lured Hank Pym and Hope in order to deliver my big villain monologue and all that. It was several days, maybe 3 days shooting that scene. It was an endurance feat because there were so many people in that scene. We really felt like we were sort of trapped in that room for a long time. But it was just really fun to have that license to just be that big sort of Bond villain, you know, to go for it.”
Q: Your character is a villain, but is there any way in which you relate to your character?
CS: “Yeah, I mean, the stuff didn’t really end up in the film but, you know, when he’s first selling the Yellowjacket and this technology, we really brainstormed about what would be the beneficial applications of this technology and you realize that this actually could save the world. You know, there’s so many things you could do; you could get a shipping container down to the size of a Volkswagen Bug, you know, and shipping cost would be like, nothing.
And then the Carbon emissions would become much smaller, or you could maybe shrink the smoke as it comes out of a coal powered plant or you could shrink a surgeon down to do microsurgery. It really is like this incredibly Utopian thing. And I think there is that element in Darren that he wants to change the world for the better. It’s just that this military application happens to be the most lucrative and he just the wrong choice. But also, having Michael Douglas be the person playing this father figure, that was very easy to sort of identify with, wanting to get this approval. Because, as a youngish Actor, I would like his approval.
When we mentioned that, during our interview with Michael Douglas, Corey was given his nod of approval, Corey smiled and laughed. “That’s pretty rewarding.”
Q: Now that you’ve played a character upon which action figures and toys have been based, will you be collecting yourself?
CS: “I will! I hope I can get a discount because I think I’ll be buying multiple… Oh My God. I have — I have the LEGO set, which is really cool. [The half-inch version] looks like a choking hazard. I’m about to have a baby, so I’m, uh… you know, and I learned that it’s a boy – not that I wouldn’t have a girl play with the action figure. But my second thought after, you know, thank God he’s healthy, was I’ll be able to play with my action figure with him.”
Q: Will you be raising a Marvel fan?
CS: “Yes definitely. Yeah, I think DC is a little too dark until he’s a little older. But we’ll have to manufacture our own action figure for my wife so that she doesn’t feel left in the dust.”
Q: Was there any hesitation at all in joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the bad guy?
CS: “No. I had a general meeting with the executives at Marvel years ago; that was the first thing I said when I met with them was, ‘I want to play a villain.’
I’m the hero of The Strain and, in House of Cards, he’s not necessarily the villain. I’ve played a couple villains, but I’ve been really lucky not to be typecast as the villain. It’s just so much fun [to play a villain].
And also frankly, playing the Hero… the contract tends to be longer. And while I had a wonderful experience and, you know, we’ll see; nobody stays dead in the comic books.
I would love to reprise this role if that happens. Staring down the barrel of signing a 7 picture deal or a 9 picture deal like some people did, that’s a — that’s a big commitment and I don’t know if I was quite ready for that.”