The actress reflected on her experiences in the comic book movie realm in a new interview with Yahoo Entertainment promoting her role in Marvel’s threequel Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
“I think the last time I did anything remotely like this was Batman,” says Pfeiffer, 64, who also noted her work in the CGI-heavy 2007 fantasy film Stardust. “But I so loved working on that film. There is just something about working in fantasy. And what I really loved about this one was playing this character.”
Pfeiffer reprises her role as Janet Van Dyne — mother to Evangeline Lilly’s Hope Van Dyne, and the original Wasp — who was trapped in the quantum realm for 30 years prior to her rescue in 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp. In the Peyton Reed-directed Quantumania, we find out more about what Janet, who’s kept much of her experiences secret from Hope, was dealing with: namely Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors), who’s long terrorized the many extraterrestrial-like species of the realm.
“When I met with Peyton, I didn't know actually who she was, and he explained to me that she was actually the founding member of the Avengers, and that she was a seminal character in the Marvel world,” Pfeiffer says. “And he wanted to bring her to life. I thought, ‘Wow, that's really exciting.' And I felt very honored to play that.
“And then I wasn't in the first one, and so I was excited to be a part of it because I felt like this film just honestly felt like it had its own genre. It didn't really feel like a typical Avengers movie or a typical superheroes movie. It just kind of was this mix of these real people with real struggles who could also turn themselves into ants, flying ants, you know [laughs]. I thought it was a special franchise.”
I talked to Michelle Pfeiffer about how her experiences on Batman & Ant-Man have compared. The green screens on Ant-Man has been challenging for her.
"I would ask questions and the other actors would just go, 'When it cuts together, you're not gonna look stupid. We promise you." pic.twitter.com/x2NvwK9lSJ
— Kevin Polowy (@djkevlar) February 18, 2023
Asked about the biggest differences between making Tim Burton’s Batman Returns and Reed’s Ant-Man films, Pfeiffer pointed out the former’s practical effects versus Marvel’s green screen-reliant Avengers movies. Most of the MCU movies make heavy use of green screens, but given Ant-Man 3 takes place primarily in the fantastically imagined quantum realm, Pfeiffer filmed the vast majority of the film with scenery left to her imagination.
“Well, Batman was not [made with] super special effects. In fact, we had [only] maybe a couple of things [enhanced with effects]. It was all practical sets and there wasn't a lot of green screen or anything like that.
“[Ant-Man and the Wasp] was a lot of green screen for me, and that was challenging. I would ask questions and the other actors would just go, ‘It's OK, it'll be OK.’ They'll just say, ‘Trust us. It'll be OK. [Peyton] won't leave you there with egg on your face.' They'll be like, ‘When it cuts together, you're not gonna look stupid. We promise you.’”
Pfeiffer’s co-star Michael Douglas, who plays Janet’s ex-superhero husband Hank Pym, felt similarly challenged by the green screens.
“That's the reason I did the first one,” Douglas says of 2015’s Ant-Man. “In my career, I’m always looking for different types of things to do. I had never done a green screen movie and got a deep appreciation of it.
“You gotta pretend, ‘Here comes the comet. Here he comes, no one’s passing by.’ You know, there's nothing there. And so you really realize, ‘Wow, this is tough acting, man. This is really hard. And then you have situations where they put you in a chair with cameras and you just do all these, these face contortions when you don't know what they're for. But they’re gonna stick your face in a rocket ship.”
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is now playing.
Watch the trailer: