“My son’s been watching his mom slay orcs and kick bad guy butts for a very long time,” Evangeline Lilly chuckled. As Kate on Lost, she fended off polar bears and mysterious smoke monsters. As Tauriel in The Hobbit, she fronted the Mirkwood Elven guard. And most recently, as Hope van Dyne, aka the superhero the Wasp, she stopped the world from devolving into quantum madness in Ant-Man and the Wasp, the first Marvel movie to be co-headlined by a female hero.
With Ant-Man and the Wasp now available digitally and arriving on Blu-ray and DVD on Oct. 16, Lilly spoke with ET about her 7-year-old son’s reaction to his mom rubbing elbows with the Avengers, why seeing young girls dressed as the Wasp is one of the most rewarding parts of the job and how she learned what fate befell Hope in that end-credits scene, where (spoiler!) she disintegrated to dust after Thanos snapped his fingers and disappeared half of all life.
ET: Have you had a chance to see girls dressed as the Wasp yet?
Oh, yeah! I did a con tour this summer of five cons promoting my children’s book, The Squickerwonkers, and so I got a chance to get out and see a bunch of little girls in Wasp costumes [and] little boys in Ant-Man costumes. I’ve also had friends and family send me pictures of their kids’ Halloween costumes for this year, because their kids are going to be the Wasp. It’s so cool.
I was going to say, this is the first Halloween post-Ant-Man and the Wasp since we’ve seen you fully suited up, so I’m anticipating plenty more Wasps at the end of the month.
I think so! I’m going to be enjoying the next couple weeks of social media hashtags — #TheWasp, #AntMandTheWasp, #EvangelineLilly. It’s going to be fun. I like to go on and peruse and check out all the little kids in their costumes after Halloween. I did it after Halloween when Tauriel was first released in The Hobbit and had a bunch of little long red-headed elves running around with pointy ears and green dresses. It will be fun again this year. [Laughs.]
Meeting those little girls and little boys at the cons — but especially the little girls, who haven’t always had the chance to see a superhero who is a woman — what have those interactions been like?
It’s been so refreshing for it to authentically be engaging with fans who are kids. My career, I mean, I’ve done a lot of family entertainment and yet, it’s usually the stuff that appeals a little more to the parents or, in the case of Real Steel, a little more to little boys. With The Hobbit, of course, there were little girls who dressed up as Tauriel, but I think there were more big girls who dressed up as Tauriel. [Laughs.] I’ve traditionally had parents come up to me and say, “Oh, my kid just loves you! Can we get a picture with you?” And I’ll look down at the kid and they’re just looking at me with this blank stare, and you can tell the kid has no idea who I am! [Laughs.] The parents are really using the kid because the parents want a picture with me and they don’t have the courage to say so. But ever since Ant-Man and the Wasp came out, suddenly I’ll have parents come up and say, “My kid’s such a big fan, can we get a picture?” And of course, my mind immediately goes, Yeah, yeah, your kid’s a big fan… And then I look down and I can see these kids are just mesmerized, there’s stars in their eyes and some of them will say something, like, “Is that the Wasp?!” There’s this real, genuine excitement, and that’s new. Usually, the little kids, you know, they don’t actually care all that much about this Hollywood business, and so that’s been really fun.
And the little girls, I have been rewarded by the little girls who have told me that I’ve become a role model or somebody that they look up to, and I think I’ve been even more touched by the parents who have told me, with tears in their eyes, how grateful they are that their little girls have somebody strong and positive to look up to in this space. There’s always been these wonderful, intelligent, strong and capable female superheroes — there’s been a ton of them in the Marvel universe, it’s not like they don’t exist — but it does mean something to put the female’s name in the title and to make her validated in that way. And then also to give her the amount of screen time and the amount of fighting screen time that the Wasp got is new and is sending, whether conscious or not, a message to little girls about how important they are, about how powerful they are and about whether or not they share equal space with men in this world.
I know your son is still young, but has he been able to see this and see his mom kicking butt and saving the day?
[Laughs.] Yes! And my son has actually been caught out by his mom pretending to be the Wasp, which is a fantastic flip on what my childhood was like, where you’d catch little girls pretending to be Spider-Man or Batman, because there were really not too many females to choose from in the superhero pantheon. He’s seven, so he tries to act like mom’s not that cool and this has made it really difficult for him to keep that up. [Laughs.] He’s having a hard time keeping a straight face when he pretends like mom’s not cool.
Will he admit the Wasp is his favorite superhero now?
Sometimes! He changes his tune every week — it’s a different superhero every week, somebody new — but once in a blue moon, she’s been thrown into his favorite list, which obviously tickles me to no end. His dad is six foot two and he’s a big guy, and one time, I don’t remember how it came out or why it came out, but I’m an athletic woman and I keep in shape, always — that’s not just for the roles, that’s just me — and we asked my 7-year-old son, “So, if there was a robber that broke into our house, who would protect us?” And he said, “Oh, mom, for sure!” [Laughs.] And his dad is like a foot taller than me, a hundred pounds up on me, but he was like, “Mom, for sure!” But my son’s been watching his mom slay orcs and kick bad guy butts for a very long time, so it’s fun. He’s at that perfect age for him to just love it all. He wants every Ant-Man and the Wasp toy I bring home. He found out the digital release was out — I don’t know how he found out, because I didn’t tell him — he found out and he said, “Mom! We’ve got to get that movie! I have to watch it again!” [Laughs.] It’s so surreal for my child to be telling me, I need to watch your movie again.
The movie ends with a bit of a shock in the post-credits scene. How did you find out that you were going to be dusted in the Thanos snap?
Oh, the same way we found everything out! They hand you pages and say, “Here you go! Go act!” [Laughs.] It was literally like that. It was on the day, we got called in for a scene, we didn’t know really what the scene was going to be. We kind of had the rough shape of it — outside, van, Quantum tunnel — and that was kind of what we knew, and then we showed up and they handed us these pages and we were like, “OK, so then what is this thing at the end? What’s happening? I don’t really understand.” And they were like, “Oh, don’t worry, it ties into Infinity War.” So, we just muddled our way through it, and then I went and watched Infinity War and was like, Oh, man! I blew that dusting thing. I didn’t do that right at all. I had no idea what I was supposed to be doing and I made it look like some kind of heavenly ascent. [Laughs.] Like, I did it all wrong. And then I went and saw Ant-Man and the Wasp when they had the final cut and I was like, Oh, thank God, they cut out my reaction to the dusting, because it didn’t make any sense at all! Because we really didn’t know what we were doing. But that’s how Marvel works, they like to keep us all hanging on by a thread, never really knowing what’s happening. It’s part of the fun of the game.
Peyton [Reed] has said that he has an idea for the series as a trilogy. Has he shared with you what he has planned for a third Ant-Man and the Wasp movie and where he wants to take this character?
We’ve spoken roughly about it, because we were both on the press tour together promoting the film and the film was doing really well and, at the point where we were having this discussion, it was the No. 1 film [at the] box office that weekend and we were sort of looking at each other going, So, does this mean we’re going to have another one? Are we not going to have another one? What’s going to happen? Because we don’t know any more than you guys know. He said to me at that point, like, “Gosh, if we did, what would it be? Do you have ideas?” He has ideas. He’s always got ideas. He was just riffing a little bit with me, but it was all very ambiguous, it was all very, like — We don’t even know if we have another movie! We don’t know what’s going to happen at this point, and we still haven’t been told. So, you know, we’ll have to just wait and see!