Disclaimer: I was provided with travel and accommodations by Disney/Marvel to attend this interview in L.A. All thoughts and opinions stated herein are my own unless otherwise noted.
Our interview with Michael Peña, T. I. and David Dastmalchian would read more like a comedy skit if I were to copy you on the transcripts directly. It was hilarious and everyone in the room couldn’t stop laughing. Trying to put this interview into words for our readers is the hardest thing I’ve ever done; the interview session is a “you would have to be there” experience. I’m still floored that I had the privilege of being in the room with these guys. They were so much fun. ~ Victoria
About the Antourage
The Ant-ourage is a nickname given outside of the film for the Ant-Man’s backup team: Luis [Michael Peña], Kurt [David Dastmalchian], and Dave [Tip “T. I.” Harris]. These three are a group of ex-cons who have their own skills that Scott needs in order to save the day.
Luis (Michael Peña) was Scott’s (Paul Rudd) cellmate. He is the one who picks up Scott and helps him transition back into society. Luis’ skill is being “the guy” – he’s the guy you go to when you need anything – information, a connection, supplies – he can help with whatever you need.
Dave (Tip “T. I.” Harris) is the quick thinker of the team. T.I. says “My character Dave’s specialty is transportation, navigation and contingency plans. So when the first plan doesn’t work, Dave is always quick to think of something that can be done to ensure that all is not lost.”
Kurt (David Dastmalchian) is the hacker. He is a Russian computer guy who became friends with Luis in prison. Scott/Ant-Man may be the lead, but nothing is getting done with out Kurt’s help.
Is somebody taking pictures of this? This is awesome ~ David Dastmalchian
Everyone is expecting Paul Rudd to bring the laughs into Ant-Man. What really happens is that Michael Peña is going to be the one to do it! The attendants at the press screening of the movie loved how much Michael Peña made us laugh. To me, he was stepping into the role as the bigger comedian [in the film] – a role viewers are expecting from Paul. I really wanted to know how that felt – how Michael Peña felt to be the one that shines as the comedian in Ant-Man. Of course, he was humble. But he also wasn’t sure if my question was a compliment or a stab at Paul. (Ha! No, no no -NO stab I promise.)
You know what? I’m like – you know Paul had a lot to do. Like, can’t really go for the joke you’re trying to propel the story… I think it helped that I based it off somebody who actually exists. So I had infinite ideas about what he could do.
About that guy “that actually exists”: Michael Peña has been waiting for the perfect role to incorporate the character of a childhood friend for years.
I’m imitating this guy, I won’t say his name, but he’s in my neighborhood [growing up].
I had the blessing of going to prep school and living in the ghetto. I’d travel an hour in the morning just to get to that school, come back – and then all of a sudden it’s– “And how, how did it go man? [told in character voice].
…literally he’s the kind of dude it was like, “Hey what you do– whatcha’ do this weekend?”
And he’s like, “Uh, I went to jail”
[I’d ask] “What you go to jail for?”
The interview continued with Michael Peña explaining how his friend was arrested for doing something that isn’t usually criminal – but he made it criminal. As hilarious as this story was, I’m going to keep this interview G-Rated (wink).
I was waiting for a movie to put that character in because — it was odd because he’s the most optimistic criminal that I’ve ever met in my life. But everybody loves him. At the same time — you gotta’ be kidding me. So that’s, that’s Luis.
Michael your storytelling is hilarious are you like that in real life?
No, I was always like a quiet kid. To be honest. Yeah. I remember — I got messages on Facebook [saying] out of all people to be an Actor, you’re the guy?
I was Captain of the Wrestling team and Track Team. I loved sports and stuff, so that’s the only way that I really made friends. I was kind-of a nerd to be honest. It’s hard to believe…
You know man, [I was a nerd in school] too! ~ T. I. (jokingly)
Who knows., T.I. being a nerd, I would believe it. He’s a smart dude. ~ Michael Peña
T. I. told us how he knows the power of bloggers because that is what sparked buzz for him to be in Ant-Man to begin with – well, he assumes anyway.
When it was first mentioned that there would be an Ant-Man film, someone mentioned me in association with it all over the blogs and everywhere.
Like, “Yo T.I.’s gonna’ be in it.”
And I was like, “I have no idea what you’re talkin’ about.”
I don’t know who it was, or what it was, that mentioned me…Maybe two weeks, or three weeks, before they began shooting, I got a call saying, “Can you get– are you in Atlanta?”
“Well, can you go do an emergency reading for Ant Man over at–?”
“Yeah. Okay, I guess.”
I go and read and they give me a bunch of anonymous scenes to read and they called me back.
Every scene the three actors appear together in is hilarious. We asked what the funniest scene was to shoot and T. I. led with:
All of the scenes that we did together to me were funny. A lot of the van stuff. The first night we were in that van in San Francisco. It think it was the scene when Scott was breaking into Hank Pym’s house for the first time. The stuff that didn’t make it on screen now that’s– now those– that’s the gold. That’s the action.
After seeing the film, I expected David Dastmalchian to be Russian. He played the character of Kurt so well that I had no idea he was an American actor originally from Kansas. In an earlier interview he said that instead of seeking a voice coach for the role, he immersed himself in a Russian family that lived in his neighborhood. He ate dinner with them and really listed to how they spoke. Anytime he had trouble he would call his friend and ask “How does your dad say…”
Early into the interview, David was asked how long it took to do the hair and we learned that Kurt was 100% character. From the hair, to tattoos, the voice – everything.
Yvette Stone helped create that look for Kurt. And I was sitting in the chair for half an hour, 45 [minutes]. We got it down. It starts taking a long time, but by the end of the movie – man we nailed it, and the tattoos, and everything. It was the amazing Make-Up Artist, Greg Funk, who did the tattoos.
It’s a cool thing when you’re an Actor and you get the physical world that’s created for you. The wardrobe nailed exactly what I thought about Kurt, the hair. I would come out of hair and make-up, put on my wardrobe, and walk out of my trailer – look in the mirror and I’d be like “this is good.”
Poor David, he told us a story about the process of being interviewed and testing for the role. Later, after the film was already in production, he was asked to go to Atlanta “to do some tests”. He had no idea what that meant. He thought he was going for another test to receive the part.
I didn’t understand what that meant. I had a newborn at home, I was very frazzled, and I was very nervous. I thought, okay like I’m gonna’ go and do another audition.
I went to Atlanta, and Michael was there, and everybody else. I’m meeting everybody and I’m so nervous. And I realize what they meant by that kind of test. ‘Cause like hair and make-up test. I had the part. I was in.
The Antourage is a side-film all their own. David Dastmalchian started tweeting using #Antourage hashtag and asked that we make it stick! Once you see Michael, T. I. and David in Ant-Man you will agree that these guys need their own series or movie – at the very least they should reprise their roles in future Marvel films.
They should give us a comic book ~ T. I.
U.S. Release date: July 17, 2015
Director: Peyton Reed
Producer: Kevin Feige
Executive Producers: Louis D’Esposito, Alan Fine,
Victoria Alonso, Michael Grillo, Edgar Wright, Stan Lee
Cast: Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Corey Stoll, Bobby Cannavale,
Michael Peña, Judy Greer, Tip “Ti” Harris, David Dastmalchian,
Wood Harris Jordi Mollà and Michael Douglas