Captain America and Ant-Man Assemble: Chris Evans and Paul Rudd on What You Didn’t See From the Marvel Movies
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Chris Evans and Paul Rudd entered the world of streaming television from the Marvel universe this year. In the limited Apple TV Plus series "Defending Jacob", Evans lives in the guilt and fear of a district attorney who does nothing to save his teenage son from what he considers to be an illegal murder charge. And Rudd is much bigger than Ant-Man in Netflix's "Living With Yourself" and plays both a grumpy lyricist and his charming clone. They talked to each other about a video chat on Variety's Actors on Actors.
Paul Rudd: What was it like to play a father?
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Chris Evans: Yes, I don't have a child, but it was a very entertaining role. I had a wonderful relationship with my father. If you have to find parallels in your own life that you can draw from, what a nice street to remember all the sweet moments I had.
It's a darker topic on the show because this love obviously makes him bend his ethics. But even up to the stance of sticking your head in your child's bedroom door and saying, "Good night." The physicality of it and the cadence of it is something I remember so well and which contributes to such a healthy, safe part of my childhood.
Rudd: How do you play a public prosecutor?
Evans: The author of the book, William Landay, was pretty much on the set. We actually had a nice group of people on the set to keep us balanced. It's like making a movie where you play military or something. You need someone who is military, otherwise you will look like an idiot.
What about you? Did you get the pilot or did you get the whole series?
Rudd: All eight episodes were written. I know it's rare. It was a writer, eight episodes. It's a little scary to get started because you don't know where to go, but if you work with good people who were clear to you, it is easier to make this jump. Did you know her before?
Evans: I had seen "Imitation Game" staged by Morten [Tyldum]. I had seen some of the "Planet of the Apes" films that Mark Bomback was involved in writing. Both had a 14 year old son or children of that age. You can feel the personal connection; it translates. Did you have the same?
Rudd: Exactly the same. Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, husband-wife director team that made Little Miss Sunshine and many great films and documentaries. We went to see them and they managed all eight of us, so we were very lucky.
Evans: I wanted to ask you what everyone wants to know. Have you been paid twice?
Evans: These are bulls - t. What was the process? Would you shoot a whole page and then -
Rudd: I never had the idea of playing two roles and having scenes with myself. We would have to do the same scene in different episodes in different ways and then repeat it twice because it was two characters. It was a very strange thing to keep everything in order.
Evans: Of course this is a really pretentious flatness, but acting listens and reacts. So would you remember? Do you really need to worry about the choices you've made?
Rudd: I did it. Which character drives the scene is the character that I would film first. I would rehearse the scene for the camera and crew when we felt the blockage. I would then play it and imagine I was opposite and I had an earwig in my ear and if I said my line I would hear myself answer. We had someone outside the camera who hit the cue on the iPad and played the other character's answer. As soon as we had decided on the setting, I switched and looked at what we had recorded.
If I moved and reached for something, I would remember, so my eye line should follow. It became choreography.
Evans: Why don't you age? Do you drink baby blood?
Rudd: I'm definitely getting older.
Evans: Oh you know what? It is less a question than an attaboy. In terms of Hollywood, you're part of Marvel, you're part of "Friends", and you're in the [Judd] Apatow crew. These are three real clubby, cliquey and benchmark things. I can’t imagine anyone with such a widespread affiliation with so many different genres and groups. How does it feel to be great?
Rudd: They seem like bags and chapters in life. Something like "friends" was about the show, but it's interesting to be part of it. I was only there for a short moment. I felt, "I'm like a prop on this show. It's not about Mike Hannigan." But it's a very interesting feeling to be part of something that has such a profound impact on pop culture.
Evans: Even in the "Avengers" world, it was like being greeted in the herd, but very quickly. I cannot imagine that you are not with the group. You are like sorbet, only a palate cleaner. It is always a welcome addition.
Rudd: When I was working on "Civil War" with you for that first scene we had where we were parked in the car -
Evans: That was the first day I met you.
Rudd: Yes. And Scott Lang had a real kind of nervousness and I just really played with it because it was part of what I felt anyway. I would look around and think: "Whoa, there are Chris Evans and there is Sebastian Stan and wow - and there are the suits." Do you remember that there was something like a small makeshift changing room? We're all turning into things and I've seen the suits on the racks. It felt like you were in the locker room of a Super Bowl winning soccer team.
Evans: I don't know if you remember that. That day it was literally the day I met you. [Anthony] Mackie and I and Scarlett [Johansson] got in our heads that we - that's so funny - wanted to make a little video just for the Marvel gang A little highlight, like an annual video, about this song by "Grease" . "We go together like Rama Lama", whatever that song is. We just wanted to go around making little clips of videos of people dancing and cutting it all together. The first day I said, "Okay, I'm going to start collecting some of these shots." I have the footage.
I said, "Hello, nice to meet you. You don't know me, but can I get it? "It was you, Mackie, I think [Jeremy] Renner, Sebastian, and I just said," Look, everyone, just dance for 30 seconds, "and you did it. You were a great sport. You willingly with little Explanation danced by me, and then I never finished the video, I just gave it up, but I got the footage from our first day you dance.
Rudd: I must have hidden it. I can't remember it at all. While we are dealing with the subject of "Avengers", what is it like for you to play such an icon?
Evans: I'm sorry, I found it. It's incredible. I can't show it - it's too embarrassing.
Rudd: Is it bad?
Evans: Oh it's so bad. Anyway, it was intimidating at first. Everyone has expectations. You know what it's like to work at Marvel - you feel so comfortable. It feels like group work. It's a real landscape of competing ideas, and the best idea wins, and that's how so many great films are made. You quickly put down your fear and lean back a little and realize that you are in good hands.
Rudd: How is it for you when you go outside when there are only a few children? Do they just freak out?
Evans: A little. But that's so nice because I grew up with "Star Wars" and had certain characters that only meant the world to me. We now live in a completely different time. When I was young the celebrity was far away. And actors were only accessible through their work. Now you have this other channel where you can actually offer a little more of what you are. This is a difficult balancing act. But it's nice to share a little bit more, especially playing a character that I respect so much, and trying to make that connection between your work and the impact you want on children.
We really liked Boggle during the Marvel films -
Rudd: Oh yes.
Evans: Without a doubt, you could play with a group of 20 people. The person who will win is Paul Rudd. The next person to get to the point is Don Cheadle and [Mark] Ruffalo will be far away in the end. Although one day Ruffalo found “asbestos” on the boggle board. It is a real anomaly.
Rudd: It's pretty impressive, but it's because Mark is leading the brave fight. He is probably on the way to asbestos reform.
Evans: I didn't know Ant-Man either. Is there pressure to bring a character that is not one of the names?
Rudd: Every single film you make in the Marvel world is under pressure. You don't want to be the weak link. A character like Ant-Man, yes, very few people knew it. You would say, "Well, what is Ant-Man doing?" And I would say, "It can shrink to the size of an ant, but it also maintains strength and it can control ants and talk to ants." And people would only laugh.
Evans: There's a third one, right? Are there any plans to shoot soon?
Rudd: I won't be able to say anything, Chris. You know the world
Evans: I might as well ask you what your paychecks are. I dont know. Paul, how big is your penis?
Rudd: It's even bigger than my paycheck. Put your own Ant-Man joke there.
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