When Moviepilot invited me to Los Angeles to cover Ant-Man, the newest addition to the MCU, I was dead-set on getting some time with the cast. What can we expect from Marvel's latest and greatest?
With that in mind - and Moviepilot and Disney/Marvel to thank - I present an exclusive one-on-one interview with Ant-Man co-star and always awesome Michael Peña, who plays Luis (Scott Lang's unwavering best friend).
Full disclosure, I've left out whatever could be considered "spoilers." Once the film hits theaters on July 17th, I'll add a couple juicy tidbits.
But the interview was pretty awesome, check it out below:
I was his last interview for the day, and was nervous and excited all at once. I was called into the room on the fifth floor of the Frank G. Wells building at the Walt Disney Studios back lot; caters were just wheeling in some snacks of assorted cheeses and fruits and other small items and I immediately felt like I was imposing on him. But the man was so cool and down to earth...see for yourself:
It's good to finally meet you, man.
Michael Pena: "Yeah. Right on. What is this?"
At this point we were discussing what he was eating.
Looks like some sort of pepper.
Michael Pena: "It's like meaty inside. It's weird."
Maybe it's like a stuffed pepper?
Michael Pena: "I don't know. I like it though, like, in a weird way."
So, you are now an official part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What is that like when you go to bed at night? Do you just think about how amazing that is; that you're apart of something that's just growing at an incredible rate?
Michael Pena: "You know what's funny? I don't think about work at all when I'm at home."
So you do view it as work then? Obviously you have fun with it, but it's just 'a job' to you?
Michael Pena: "When I first started working. I was doing an interview for backstage or something and someone asked me: 'why did you get into acting?' and I said 'for the money.' You know in all honesty, dude, when you're a high-school kid and you get out and go to college, you don't really go into banking for the love of banking. You know what I mean?" (laughs) "You're like 'I really like to crunch numbers, man. I really love accounting.' You know? You can like it! But you don't have to love it. It's an odd thing because like at first I did it for the money and then when I was able to be a part of the writing, I was like 'oh, man, this is amazing'. And that's when like it changed. So I loved it later. Yeah, it took me like five years or whatever. But like, when you have a kid, you know what I mean, you're trying to put them to bed, you don't really think of that."
Yeah, I've got two right now so I understand.
Michael Pena: "Oh, you've got two?"
Yeah, a five-year-old and one-year-old.
Michael Pena: "So you're not thinking about how good of a reporter you are."
Right, well, I do this for fun. (laughs)
Michael Pena: (laughs) "F*** you, man! You're better than me! I get it!"
(laughs) No, but I'd rather do this than my actual job.
Michael Pena: (laughs)
Obviously, there's an element of fun to what you do and like I said, you're part of this huge cinematic universe that's growing and doesn't look like it's slowing down at all.
Michael Pena: "Did you like the movie?"
Oh, I loved the movie.
Michael Pena: "Really?"
I was so happy with the film and your character [Luis]. What's funny is I've seen you in 'Shooter', 'End of Watch', and then I've seen you in 'Fury'. So all your roles that I've seen you in have been serious. I even tried to watch very little of this trailer so that I wouldn't everything that was coming.
Michael Pena: "So like some comedies where you get all the best jokes?"
Yeah, and that's the thing, every time I watched the trailer for 'Ant-Man', I never saw you in your joking moment. I always saw that one little bit where you're in the security guard uniform and you're walking with the gun and you looked so serious. So, the whole film, I was waiting for you to come out as some secret S.H.I.E.L.D. agent or something.
Michael Pena: (laughs)
Or someone that was undercover or watching Hanky Pym or Scott Lang the whole time.
Michael Pena: "Yeah. But they got me in the poster and I'm like half asleep. You know what I mean? I got this weirdest look and I'm like who is that?" (laughs)
So how does that feel to play the part you did. You stole the show almost with your comedy. You're in a movie with Paul Rudd who's well known for his comedy and still a lot of people are talking about how well you did with the comedy.
Michael Pena: "I mean in all honesty, dude. I was just nervous like when I'd show up for work. You have to just fall in love with the script and believe in the script. And when you're acting in front of people, dude, it's nerves. You get nervous the first couple days. I remember the first day was the van. You know when he's like 'Hey! How's your girlfriend?' and I'm like 'Hey! She left me...'. So you know that stuff, I made that s*** up and I was nervous as hell, man."
Michael Pena: "So, like right now I appreciate you saying it but I really hope that other people like. But I really appreciate it so much. You do movies for people. You want to tell stories. You want to entertain. You know life kind of sucks sometimes and you want that somebody to have a good time. You want your kids to have a good time. Like, every movie that my son goes to see, if I'm in town, I'm watching with his reactions. Because of how honest and organic his reactions are, it's really infectious. And I love movies period. When I started acting, I'd watch four movies a day just see, you know, what are they doing wrong and what are they doing right? But I just like movies so much. So thank you very much but I really hope that other people like it."
Yeah, when the first reactions first came out, I tried so hard not to read them.
Michael Pena: (laughs) "That's bad for you to say, being a reporter!"
Well, I just wanted to have my own reaction without any bias from what someone else might have said.
Michael Pena: "Oh, I see what you're saying. Yeah."
Yeah, I just walked in and was very pleasantly surprised by the whole film. I felt like, because Paul Rudd is known for his comedy but he was put in this action role and had to be somewhat dramatic and serious at times.
Michael Pena: "Yeah! Which I think he did a great job, man!"
He did. He did do a great job.
Michael Pena: "And you know what's interesting? Like him, Jonah Hill, John C. Reilly, people like that. They grew up being dramatic actors. They trained to be dramatic actors. So when you talk to Jonah, he's an extremely bright individual and so is Paul. But when you're young, you just want to work. Because you love acting or like I loved acting later. But you just want to work in movies and it just so happened that they got into comedy. But I really think he killed it with the dramatic side. Like with that story line with him and his daughter? Kills. Kills!"
Yeah, his daughter in that film was close to the same age as my daughter so I really connected to that story.
The next few things that were said here, I wasn't given permission to print considering that they are spoilers for the ending, but basically covered some of the emotional aspect of the film and its ending.
Michael Pena: "Hopefully it's a special Marvel movie."
I feel like, along with 'Guardians of the Galaxy', 'Ant-Man' has the most heart in a Marvel film and I think that what brings it down to earth is that it is on Earth.
Michael Pena: "But 'Guardians of the Galaxy' is on Earth as well."
Yeah, in the beginning.
Michael Pena: "Yeah, but then there was that one scene where he's [Star-Lord] getting chased down by Zoe's character [Gamora]. Was that on Earth?"
That was on another planet.
Michael Pena: "Oh, it was? It looked a lot like Earth."
(laughs) But I felt like, with 'Ant-Man', not even that it was just on Earth. But you got Tony Stark who's a billionaire playboy and Steve Rogers who's a super-soldier.
Michael Pena: "Oh, I see what you're saying! Cause he's a regular guy."
A regular guy with regular issues. It's not only a father daughter story, but it's a father son story. Then on top of that, we had you guys who had it pretty hard.
Michael Pena: "We focused a lot on that, man. Marvel really took a leap on this one. Cause I'm like, you know what I'm gonna do? I'm gonna play this guy and just be his [Scott Lang's] best friend. You know like we went through a lot."
It was unconditional. It looked like it was just this unconditional relationship.
Michael Pena: "Dude, I flew in my best friend, his name is Daniel Ortega and literally that guy's a gem. The reason I'm acting his because of his mom. She was like 'you should be an actor' and I'm like 'what?'. I grew up in the ghetto, man, so I was like what are you talking about. She was like 'you're really good at imitating people' and the reason I'm acting is because of her. So him and his family have always been great people to me. I'm good friends with his daughter and his wife. I think it's kind of a Mexican thing too."
(laughs) How's that?
Michael Pena: "I don't know, it's like whenever I'm around my mom or my cousins or whatever. I'm like 'Hey, man! What's up!?' before I started acting. They're very affectionate. Very passionate. If you do something great they let you know but if you mess up, they also let you know. It's the same guy that's like hugging you and saying 'I'll kick your...'." (laughs)
(laughs) When I grew up in Colorado, I was the only white guy so I understand that camaraderie.
Michael Pena: "Okay, yeah, exactly!"
One last question. If you could have one super power, what would it be and why?
Michael Pena: "You know what would be really cool? Is being invisible. Especially like now because I don't even know what my life will be as far as the Marvel universe. Hopefully it extends to more than just his best friend. But it would be awesome to be invisible because you know I'm the recon guy. That would be amazing. But, dude that's a loaded question because literally I want like twenty powers." (laughs)
(laughs) Yeah. Well, the movie was great, your role was great. I hope to see you in sequels and maybe 'Civil War?'
Michael Pena: "You never know, man. That'd be awesome!"
It's cool to see how much he loved this movie and that we shared the same feeling at the end of the movie. It's cool to see how he wants his character to grow too, beyond just the comic-relief best friend. It'd be interesting to see a character like him get super powers.
You really never know how things will come to fruition in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But we'll see a new piece on July 17th when Ant-Man hits theaters.