Michael Peña on ‘Ant-Man’, ‘Ant-Man 2’, and being funny in real life
The true heist in Marvel’s “Ant-Man” may not have been pulled off by lead actor Paul Rudd.
Movie reviews in the L.A. Times, Vulture.com and a slew of other film-focused websites point at Mexican-American actor Michael Peña, 39, as Ant-Man’s comedic breakout and applaud him for delivering a scene-stealing performance.
Even Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was quoted as saying: “…Michael Peña almost stealing the whole movie at certain points, being so funny.”
“It’s a pretty awesome feeling,” said Peña, who traveled from Los Angeles to Miami as part of Ant-Man’s press tour, and nabbed a key to the city presented to him by Mayor Tomas Regalado while he was at it. “I think these are the best reviews I’ve ever gotten!”
The Chicago-born star has appeared in a number of high-profile Hollywood productions in recent years. However, Peña’s breakthrough roles happened in 2005 in two Best Picture Oscar winners, Million Dollar Baby and Crash.
In 2013, he gave life to Mexican-American civil rights activist Cesar Chavez in the biopic of the same name and most recently starred alongside Brad Pitt as an American soldier in WWII in 2014’s Fury. Now, in Ant-Man, Peña is Luis: Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) former cellmate and best friend.
Luis is a speedy talker and full of quirks. But the best part about him and perhaps the reason why he has hit such a high note with critics and audiences alike might be that Peña based him off of someone he’s close to in real life. Kind of. It’s his best friend’s cousin’s husband.
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“The way that I do it, I imitate people…[laughs] I swear, I do. I’m not smart enough to make these people up,” he jokes, motioning to a video on his smart phone.
“I imitated this guy, I did his voice…in the video he’s just basically talking to a group of guy friends and in the middle of it, he catches a fly with his hand and doesn’t even break, he just keeps on telling his story and complaining about having to meet so many cousins…”
But is Michael Peña as funny as Ant-Man’s Luis?
“What? He’s funny? I thought I was doing a drama…[laughs]…it’s funny because growing up I was a little bit of a class clown, but I was a quiet kid and I was very focused,” he said.
“I was a nerd. I was in sports and I was captain of the wrestling team and the track team but at the same time I was in advanced placement Calculus so, it’s not like I was considered the funny guy.”
So, what’s next for Luis? Will audiences get more of him in a possible future production of ‘Ant-Man 2’?
“I have no idea, but I sure hope so,” said Peña.
“I want to suit up. Are you kidding me? The first Latino superhero…that would be awesome!
He added: “There’s a library full of superheroes and I would love to pick a superhero that nobody’s ever heard of and make that happen because if you think about it forever Paul Rudd is going to be ‘Ant-Man’ because he was the first, so I think if I got that opportunity it would be so cool.”
Ant-Man is now in theaters nationwide. (Peña also stars in horror film The Vatican Tapes hitting theaters Friday, July 24th.)
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