- Film And TV
- 20 Feb 23
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, the third outing in the Paul-Rudd-starring blockbuster, is in cinemas now.
The newest star of the Ant-Man franchise is deep into a press junket by the time Hot Press gets time with her, but Kathryn Newton is all peppy energy and professionalism. The Florida actress has taken over the role of Cassie Lang in Quantumania, following stints by Emma Fuhrmann (Avengers: Endgame) and Abby Ryder Fortson (Ant-Man). Of course, with MCU casting comes plenty of secrets.
“I’m the worst at giving away spoilers!” Newton laughs, shaking her head. “I’m a regular Tom Holland. I seem to do it without even realising. Everyone in my friend group knows how gullible I am so they would often pretend I told them something so I would correct them with real information. In reality, I am actually good at keeping secrets. I didn’t tell anyone after I had gotten the job. I enjoyed having it as somewhat of a secret for a few months before Kevin Feige announced it.”
A newbie to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the 26-year-old Big Little Lies actor’s take on Cassie Lang sees her step into an activist role when we meet the teenager in jail. Scott’s daughter understands her unique position in a rather troubled world, and is willing to use it to promote actual change for ordinary people.
“We had a lot of fun doing this version of Cassie Lang—one that we had never seen before; one that we had never met,” Newton nods, excitedly. “It was thrilling to do so, but it was also important to keep some of the old Cassie that all the fans loved about her so much. She has so much joy and spunk - like her dad. I loved Cassie Lang from the beginning and all the way through, including when we made her a brunette in this movie to match up with previous versions."
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The father-daughter antics are ultimately what helps us put Cassie's (stubborn) mindset in perspective. While Cassie goes so far as shrinking a police car in a protest, Scott now sees himself as being a big-league player after the events of Avengers: Endgame.
“It’s really exciting that we meet her in jail,” Kathryn continues, enthusiastically. Five years have passed since Scott Lang evaporated in The Blip before returning. “She’s just like her dad—an apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. She just wants to be like him. She’s been fighting the good fight. If there’s someone that needs help crossing the street or with their groceries, I bet she would be more than willing to help out.”
A chunk of the plot is driven by the fact that Cassie accidentally sends a signal down to the Quantum Realm, triggering a rollercoaster chain of events linked to Janet van Dyne’s mysterious past.
Obviously, Cassie is a genius. She’s been working with Hope, Janet and her Grandpa Hank, as well. There’s a lot going on behind the scenes. She wasn’t going to sit and wait for her dad to show up during The Blip, which I find very brave in and of itself. In my mind, she’s a superhero without the suit. I think the suit solidifies her superhero qualities, but she still has much to learn in terms of growth.”
Joining such a huge franchise and studio power must have been intimidating.
“So many things about working on a Marvel movie surprised me,” Kathryn replies, grinning. “The biggest thing for me was having to act on cue in such a panicked fashion. Someone will be wearing a green screen costume and you’re supposed to go from being in a really serious mode to a panic all of a sudden! That sort of thing was really new to me. Evangeline Lilly [who plays ‘The Wasp’] called me after I had been cast and gave me so much advice. One of the things she told me was to ground yourself in a scene. In a way, you have to over act because you don’t really know what you’re looking at.”
Speaking of co-stars, being on the call sheet beside Paul Rudd must have been a wild feeling.
“I was so excited to work with him!” she beams. “I am just such a fan, so getting used to being on set with him was hard at first. I had to keep reminding myself that this was ‘normal’, but I never really got over it. He was so unbelievably great to me that that made it even harder to believe.”
What was new villain Kang the Conqueror like on set?
“Jonathan Majors is such a force and a joy to be around,” Newton tells me. “If you’re lucky enough to meet him, he’s uplifting. He was so kind and playful in the morning and then all of a sudden we would be on set and he would turn into Kang - like method acting. I was really blown away by his commitment to the role; his knowledge of the characters; history; future. I learned a lot about Cassie Lang through him. Knowledge is power and he probably knew more about my own character than I did.”
“There are so many similarities between Cassie and I,” Newton smiles. “The biggest difference is that I don’t have superhero parents or a superhero suit, but she’s a character with a lot of heart. She makes a lot of mistakes due to her impatience–her and I definitely have that in common. When you're young, you’re in such a rush to get somewhere and I think we’re both in a time where we’re figuring out who we are supposed to be, but we haven’t really figured out who that is yet.”
Given the list of women who have stepped into Marvel roles - from Brie Larson and Scarlet Johansson to Natalie Portman and Elizabeth Olsen - did any have an affect on Newton’s performance?
“I really looked towards Ant Man for inspiration rather than other female superheroes,” she offers. “As an actor, I tend to delve into the script to tell me who my character is. As far as physicality goes, she’s a lot like her dad. She’s a regular girl, he’s a regular guy. He’s relatable. At the heart of the Ant Man movies they’re about family. I didn’t want her to be like Black Widow or Hawk Eye. She’s definitely a dorky mess. A lot of that is Kathryn Newton trying to figure out how to play a superhero is the same as Cassie Lang trying to be one. Every time I trip in the movie that was just me falling. People thought I was doing it on purpose as a character choice, but really it was just an accident!”
When did you first come across Marvel as a fan yourself?
“It was Iron Man. I was eight or nine at the time when I saw it,” Newton grins. “Probably too young to have seen it, but my dad took me to the cinema. I can still remember how full the theatre was. I saw all the Spider-Man movies with my dad, too. The ones with Tobey Maguire are still amazing movies. Iron Man really inspired me. I remember saying I wanted to be the biggest Marvel superhero of all time after that movie.
“I had been acting since I was four years old and seeing that movie as an eight-year-old was incredible to me,” Kathryn adds. “I was like, ‘I’ve got to be in a Marvel film or I should quit by the time I’m 25’. I’m lucky that my dream can come true and yours can too. It’s definitely better than my dream, because this character was made for me. It felt like our personalities, our connection just clicked.”
Uber-friendly Ant-Man director Peyton Reed has heaped praise on Newton’s portrayal of Cassie.
“Peyton is perfect. He’s so positive,” the actor laughs. “He trusted me, and because he trusted me, I was able to take risks. From the first time I met him, he made me feel like I could do anything. Some of the stunts I did - like running through fire, for example - were pretty crazy. There was one day on set where Paul hadn’t been there, but he was always so comfortable with retakes. Peyton stopped everything that day to let me try something new and I thought that was really special. It blew my mind because it taught me that you’ve got to do one take for you. You can do one for the director, do one for the camera, but always do one for you. I feel like it’s crazy that I’ve been working since I was four and I just figured that out.”
Michelle Pfeiffer and Michael Douglas are industry giants as this point, playing married couple Janet van Dyne and Hank Lang in the third film, whose simple domesticity implodes when Janet’s time in the Quantum Realm comes to light.
“They didn’t have to do anything to make us feel at ease on set, just their presence alone made me feel welcome. They’re legends for a reason,” Kathryn stresses, warmly. “I’ve been fortunate enough in my career to have worked with some iconic actors. The reason they are so likeable is because they really are that nice! A lot of them encouraged me to take up space and to try new things. Naturally, I’m a shy person so having this comfortable safe space with actors and directors that I trust gives me a sense of confidence. They all hired you to bring something to the table. They want you to shine.
"Having this sort of thought process from a young age has given me a lot of confidence. However, joining this cast in the beginning, I was a little nervous. They had done two movies together; they had come to know one another so well, but it turned out I didn’t need to be nervous. It was a complete waste of energy. They were just awesome!”
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania is in cinemas now.
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