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Hannah John-Kamen on the vulnerability of Ghost, the power of putting on a suit, and fangirling over Michelle Pfeiffer

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Jun 27, 2018

Going into the writing the story of Marvel's Ant-Man and The Wasp, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige said they asked the question, "How do we do a unique villain?" And in Hannah John-Kamen's portrayal of Ghost, they found not only that, but also a villain who is basically the exact opposite of what we last saw from the MCU with Avengers: Infinity War's Thanos.

Ghost isn't the type of villain you can brush away as simply evil or deranged. John-Kamen gives the character depth, leaving audiences empathetic with the character's plight — even though it ultimately puts our heroes in jeopardy. That balance takes a special character, but also a nuanced actor in order to pull off.

Warning for minor spoilers for Ant-Man and the Wasp.

SYFY FANGRRLS sat down with Hannah John-Kamen (who also stars on SYFY's Killjoys) to talk about how she celebrated her entrance into the MCU, portraying the vulnerabilities of the mysterious character of Ghost, and getting goosebumps when Michelle Pfeiffer was on set.

I know you were a comic book fan before joining this film, so what was your first thought when you found out you were going to be in a Marvel movie?

It was a gasp. It was an absolute gasp. I couldn't believe it, actually, I was so happy. I couldn't really take it all in. Everything got flooded in at once of, "Oh my god, this is amazing. This is amazing." Because I absolutely, from the audition, I loved Ghost. I fell in love with her, like she's a great, great character. I thought, "I get to play this, I get to do this." The first thing I did was I put on Miley Cyrus and danced around. But no, it is amazing. Actually, joining the Marvel Universe is daunting. It's a very daunting experience. The bar is high as a lot of incredible actors, and incredible heroes and antiheroes and characters. Especially with this film, looking at the cast list and anticipating that and going, "OK, breathe. Breathe, breathe, Hannah. Breathe." I'm still starstruck.

What characteristics about Ghost were you really drawn to when you first were auditioning?

Well, I just love Ghost. I mean, when you think of Ghost, what can ghosts do? They can phase through walls, that's cool. That's badass. But then me approaching the character, it's ... I know that the character is already written as a male in the comic book universe, with Thunderbolt and Iron Man, but I really didn't take that on board. I didn't really go in and do the research of who was Ghost, because there's no origin. Also, I'm taking it onboard myself, and I get to be the first person to bring the character to life. The big characteristics of approaching Ghost were, for me ... I approached her not as a villain. She's not a villain in my eyes. Yeah, she's the threat to the characters in the movie. She's the threat in the movie, but she's the antagonist, and everyone else are the bad guys in her mind. She's the good guy.

Everybody, it seems like, gets a lot of funny lines in this film, but Ghost doesn't really get any funny moments. Were there any scenes that you were like, "Man, I wish I got some comedic moments?" 

I mean, do you know what, though? As my character, you gotta have a balance in a movie with having the stakes. Because if we're all ... if every single character in a film is constantly kind of on this comedic high, then there's no kind of stakes. There's no stakes. I think there are very funny moments with Ghost involved in the scene, but it's not her doing it obviously. But it's timing, it's situational, it's the other character, it's an object ringing. It's very funny, but just being around the cast, and Paul Rudd and Michael Pena, they are hilarious. They are absolutely hilarious. So, having fun on set was great, because that was the comedy I needed.

Another thing that I thought you did a really good job with was balancing Ghost's badassness with her quiet moments of vulnerability. How did you make sure you got that balance?

I think definitely there's something that suit does to you. When the suit's on, it is a different thing. It's a different feeling, and it's a different strength, and it's a different confidence. Not giving away any of the story, but the suit is needed. ... I think with any superhero, or anti-hero, I think there's something about putting a suit on that kind of gives you the extra batteries. I mean, with the character as well, it's written so well. It really is written so well and it really gives Ghost the chance, it's set up for Ghost in certain moments to show that vulnerability, and the desperation. Then the badass, yeah, that's the stunts, that's the fights. They're great. I loved doing that as well.

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Image Credit: Marvel Studios

Did you have to do a lot of training?

I did. I did do my training, I did do basically my stunts. The super dangerous ones, I'm not claiming those at all. But no, I have to jump in there because I feel like the physicality of the character is so important to me as well. It's just as important. Especially when you've got a new character, and you've got powers, and you've got a style of fighting. That power you have actually affects the way you fight, it's so important for me to jump in there and take charge, and take charge of actually what the physicalities of the character. So, that was fun. I did a lot of those stunts.

What was it like working with Michelle Pfeiffer? The scene you have together is intense.

Do you know what? Seeing Michelle Pfeiffer on set gave me goosebumps. I am a huge fan. I was starstruck. I think I was lost for words. Genuinely, like completely lost for words. Yeah, I'm a big fan of hers, it was awesome.

It seems like she has such a presence.

She does. It's her presence. Even her presence ... when she just walks around you're like (gasp). Everyone looking doe-eyed, yes.


Ant-Man and The Wasp flies into theaters July 6.