Paul Rudd on ‘Ant-Man’ Training: ‘I Took the Chris Pratt Approach’

Paul Rudd Ant-Man training
Jamie McCarthy/WireImage

When Marvel Studios announced that Paul Rudd — best known for his comedy work in such films as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Anchorman” and “Clueless” — would star as Ant-Man in their bigscreen adaptation, Rudd understood that some fans might be skeptical about him playing the beloved comic book superhero, who shrinks to insect size to battle crime.

“When people heard that I was cast in this movie, I think most people’s reactions were ‘Huh? Paul Rudd as a superhero? Really?'” Rudd told Variety Monday night at the film’s Cinema Society screening in New York at the School of Visual Arts Theater.

“The majority of my career has been doing comedies, and I was always that guy, so I completely understand. Playing a comic book character is different from anything I have ever done before, and that was a huge appeal to me. I wanted to do something unexpected. I’m grateful that Marvel took a chance with me. It’s been really gratifying.”

In “Ant-Man,” Rudd not only made his leading man debut in a Hollywood tentpole, but also co-wrote the screenplay, which centers on a father-daughter relationship.

“It’s an emotional story that people can get invested in,” he said. “We wanted to make sure the movie had heart and be funny with all the action.”

Michael Peña, who plays a crook and Rudd’s friend, nearly steals every scene he’s in with his dim-witted jokes. The “Crash” actor says he did some improvising to get the big laughs in the film.

“My performance was probably 50% improv,” Peña said. “When I study a script, I want to do different takes and try to change it up. I like to rehearse a lot, so all of these ideas came up when Paul and I were rehearsing. Thank God Marvel was like, ‘If you want to try it, do it.’ Paul was really instrumental with the jokes. We’d come in the morning and we’d rewrite some stuff, and he was really good with that. It allowed me to open up. Paul is the best at improv. He can do it for days.”

Co-star Michael Douglas admits he did not read comic books growing up, but jumped at the chance to star in “Ant-Man” — his first superhero movie.

“Most of my career has been R-rated,” Douglas told Variety. “My children haven’t seen most of my pictures. But when I told my son about ‘Ant-Man,’ he said, ‘Dad, you have to do this.’ He was like my agent. I’m glad I took his advice. It turned out really well.”

To portray a superhero, Rudd listened to Chris Pratt, his “Parks and Recreation” co-star, on how to bulk up and look like a fighter.

“I basically didn’t eat anything for about a year,” said Rudd, who shows off his washboard abs onscreen. “I took the Chris Pratt approach to training for an action movie. Eliminate anything fun for a year and then you can play a hero.”

As for donning the Ant-Man suit, “It was just cool all the way around,” Rudd said with a big smile. “I felt like the part in that thing. It was a lot of fun. It got a little toasty, but it was never debilitating.” Asked if there any problems going to the bathroom in the suit, Rudd quipped, “No. I’m thankful they planned ahead!”

Following the screening, Rudd, Douglas and Peña joined co-stars Corey Stoll (“House of Cards”) and Bobby Cannavale at the rooftop of the Knickerbocker Hotel located in Times Square for the after-party. Other notable guests included “Girls” actor Andrew Rannells and actress Malin Akerman.

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  1. I guess Rudd may have succeeded in taking the Pratt approach but failed miserably with the Pratt box office take. Pratt has goofball edge to him but has bad “assery” with the goof. Rudd just have this sad, completely harmless look to him. Not a superhero quality.

    • HafsteinnH says:

      In your opinion, perhaps. There are a lot of harmlessly looking superheroes that have goofy personalities. Hal Jordan doesn’t really look tough and he’s quirky. All of the Robin’s have literally been kids and all but Jason have quirky personalities (Especially Grayson). Tony Stark looks harmless without his suit and if anyone has a goofy personality, that’s Stark. You completely neglect Peter Parker, who without his suit couldn’t look more harmless and then there’s the goofy, loud-mouthed joker part of him. Come to think of it, Spidey’s suit doesn’t really look very tough either.

      All these characters are absolutely badass and their appearance and even sometimes, their personalities, change drastically when they enter the suit.

      In my opinion, Paul Rudd was absolutely spectacular and the suit was particularly aesthetically pleasing to me.

      I don’t know how much you know about DC and Marvel’s characters, but you come off as not knowing enough to be judging what are actually good qualities in Superheroes. If it’s your opinion, then you should say it is. Let’s not generalize opinions and take them as facts. Let’s be a bit more clear in our speech and writing, shall we?

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