By Rick Bentley
The Fresno Bee
LOS ANGELES — The announcement that Paul Rudd — whose past credits range from “Clueless” to “Parks and Recreation” — was going to star in the action-packed comic book movie “Ant-Man” was surprising to some. That’s OK with the actor.
“I enjoyed the fact that when I was cast, people went, ‘Huh, really?’ That you wouldn’t necessarily think that,” Rudd says. He didn’t care about the general reaction because Rudd’s certain the team at Marvel Comics like to go against the norm with casting.
Plus, Rudd’s so excited to get to play a character that is so different from anything he’s done, the challenge of the role mixed with the adventure of playing a costumed hero, that it makes up for any naysaying.
Making an Ant-Man movie was the next logical step for the comic book company because the ant-sized super hero was one of the original “Avengers.” The original Ant-Man was Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas in the movie) but he’s been replaced by ex-con Scott Lang (Rudd) in both the print and big-screen versions.
Nothing’s changed with the character. Ant-Man continues to have the ability to shrink to molecule size, but he retains the strength and physical abilities of his normal size.
Rudd wasn’t familiar with the character before being cast. His research started with reading issues of Marvel Comics. His next step was to get into the kind of physical shape needed to play a super hero role.
The actor jokingly says he didn’t eat for a year and worked out constantly.
Whether it was his big break in “Clueless” or joining the legion of actors who have a super hero character on their resume, Rudd is just excited that he has been able to go from a theater major at the University of Kansas to being a paid actor.
“I have gratitude and am so appreciative that I’ve been able to continue to work doing something that I love. And not only doing something that I love but working on movies that I’ve loved,” Rudd says. “I always try and keep that kind of saying — I want to work on things that I would want to see — and for a large part of my career, the vast majority, that’s been true.
“I’m just very, very appreciative of that.”
He even enjoyed wearing the Ant-Man suit that he calls the coolest looking of all the Marvel Comics costumes. As soon as he would slip into the costume, he could feel his whole body change. Rudd describes it as “feeling like Ant-Man” when he was in the suit.
Now that “Ant-Man” is in theaters, those who were surprised to hear of Rudd’s casting are able to see how well he’s slipped into the suit. No matter what they think, Rudd’s won over the one person who really matters — his 9-year-old son.
“This is the first time, it’s the first thing I’ve ever done, ever, that he is like legitimately jazzed about. He can see it, his friends know about it,” Rudd says. “We were at Disneyland like two days ago and they have kind of a sneak preview, the ‘Ant-Man’ event that’s there, and we went there and I was sitting next to him, and to see like as a parent the look on my kid’s face when he’s watching this — and I’ll never forget.
“As soon as it ended he just looked at me. He’s like, ‘That’s awesome!’ And every time a commercial is on, he’s like, ‘Dad, Dad, Dad!’ And he’s so excited and like I’ve never experienced that, and so it’s so cool to be able to share this with my own family, and especially my son.”
It’s a good thing that his son loves the role because Rudd used his real life job as a father to help him in the film. A big part of the “Ant-Man” story revolves around Lang’s daughter.
Once Rudd got past the special effects and action portions of the movie, he felt comfortable with the more human part of the story.
“Whenever you see something that you can connect to, that’s emotionally resonant, it stays with you in a very different way. I think that’s the key to any movie and that’s what I thought about throughout this whole film. This is what the movie is about,” Rudd says.