Evangeline Lilly’s Hope van Dyne has changed a great deal since audiences first met her in 2015’s Ant-Man, and that transformation has always thrown Lilly for a bit of a loop. Whether it was her time as Darren Cross’ (Corey Stoll) standoffish assistant or her embrace of the Wasp mantle in 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, Lilly has had a tough time figuring out who Hope really is, something she explained to THR in 2021.
“Hope is an odd enigma for me. The truth is that I find it harder to know and understand Hope than any other character I’ve ever played before,” Lilly admitted to The Hollywood Reporter at the time.
But with Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania hours away from release, Lilly now feels closer than ever to her character, even if she’s still a bit of a mystery.
“I have one word now that’s become my anchor to help me when I feel a bit lost with her, And [that word] is the bullet,” Lilly shares. “She cuts right through things and she’s always going to drive right to the heart of whatever is going on. So that one word just helps anchor me. She’s changed so much over the three films that I’ve often found myself a bit lost and uncertain that I’m really clear on who she is.”
In a recent conversation with THR, Lilly also discusses celebrating her 42nd birthday on the Quantumania set during a scene with Bill Murray, Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer.
First off, you expertly applied pressure on Kevin Feige this morning regarding a Wasp or “women of Marvel” movie.
In general, has putting your hopes and dreams out into the universe worked out for you in the past?
Ah, that’s a really interesting question. I would say that turning my life over to the mystery that is in charge has very much worked for me, but as far as hopes and dreams go, I feel like that’s going to be my second journey in life. I feel like that’s next for me. I’ve so far just let the universe carry me where it wanted to go, and now I feel like I’m ready to start manifesting what I really want.
So when I spoke to you for South of Heaven, you were halfway through shooting Quantumania, and you said at the time that Hope was an “odd enigma” to you. You had a tough time understanding her. Has that changed at all now that you’ve seen this movie?
Yes and no. I do think this movie was the closest I came to feeling like, “Oh, I think I get it.” I have one word now that’s become my anchor to help me when I feel a bit lost with her and I just don’t know where to put myself. And [that word] is the bullet. What I’ve realized is that there is an efficiency and a sharpness to her. She cuts right through things and she’s always going to drive right to the heart of whatever is going on. She’s always effective in everything that she tries to do, and so that one word just helps anchor me. She’s changed so much over the three films that I’ve often found myself a bit lost and uncertain that I’m really clear on who she is.
But she doesn’t change a lot in this film. She starts the film in such a grounded place, and she starts the film in a really good place that she’s been trying to get to for a long time, having healed her relationship with her father, reunited with her mother, fallen in love with Scott and now is stepmoming Cassie. And all of that is on top of saving the world with the Avengers and starting her own company and trying to save the actual world from its everyday problems. So she’s in a really good place. There wasn’t somewhere she needed to get to or go other than just to repair a little wound in her relationship with her mom. So this one had a less dramatic arc for her, which gave me a chance to catch my breath and get to know her a little bit.
To me, this movie is partially about not resting on your laurels, and early on, Scott (Paul Rudd) is definitely coasting through life. So why is Hope still able to push boundaries and avoid that trap?
Well, you could say that Hope didn’t go through or experience half of what Scott went through and experienced. She had a very different journey. She didn’t get trapped in the Quantum Realm during the blip. So she didn’t participate to the degree that he did in the fight against Thanos. She did participate in it, but it was a different experience. So I actually think that it’s their natures. When we first met Scott, his nature was much more easygoing and relaxed, and Hope’s nature was much more intense and driven. And now that they’ve come to a place of stability where everything feels good and everything feels happy, they go to their default. And her default is driven and intense, while his default is relaxed and easygoing.
Ignoring context, you have a scene opposite Bill Murray, Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas. I know you’re probably used to this life by now, but do days like that still hit you pretty hard?
That day, I pinched myself a hundred times. It was my 42nd birthday when we shot that scene, and I thought, “Happy birthday to me. This is an incredible, amazing way to spend a birthday.” So I genuinely just couldn’t quite figure out how the hell I got a seat at that table. That was amazing.
You’re no stranger to writing books, so has Scott Lang’s memoir inspired you to write your own someday?
(Laughs.) My own memoir has been in the works since I was 21, and one of these days, I will actually discipline myself enough to put it to paper and get it done.
While we didn’t see a ton of their relationship in this movie, how does Janet’s (Michelle Pfeiffer) 30-year absence affect Hope’s role as a stepmother of sorts to Cassie (Kathryn Newton)?
I think it really does impact it. Hope didn’t change Cassie’s diapers, and she didn’t nurse her wounded knees when she fell off her bike. She never knew her in that intimate way, and so she just regards her as this really capable, brilliant, wonderful young woman. She doesn’t see her as a little girl that needs coddling or protecting, and I think she’s a bit baffled by the fact that Scott does.
And what’s happening simultaneously is that Hope’s mom [Janet van Dyne], in a way, is treating her like a little girl by not letting her in, by not telling her what happened to her in the Quantum Realm, by not trusting her enough to be able to handle whatever information she’s hiding. At least that’s Hope’s perception of why her mom is not letting her in. In reality, Janet is probably just trying to protect her, but in the same way, Scott is just trying to protect Cassie.
So I think Hope will be damned if she’s going to do that to Cassie. It’s that thing where you want to do the exact opposite thing of what your parents did to hurt you. And so she really lets Cassie in and she gives her a seat at the table and she trusts her with information that maybe she shouldn’t, that maybe is beyond Cassie. But the film will tell us whether or not Cassie should have been trusted with all of that.
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania opens in movie theaters on Feb. 17th. This interview was edited for length and clarity.
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