Ask anyone who the funniest character is in Marvel’s “Ant-Man” and chances are they’ll pick Michael Pena’s Luis. As the lovable friend of Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang who has a love of waffles and fine wines, he is the comedic center of an already funny movie.
But what makes Luis even funnier is the fact he’s based on someone Pena knows in real life. While Luis’s unique interests came from Rudd and Adam McKay’s additions to the “Ant-Man” script, the actual character is based on Pena’s friend Pablo.
“He’s a criminal; not bulls****ing at all. The guy lives in Chicago,” Pena says at the “Ant-Man” press conference. “He’s in and out of jail. He’s the kind of guy, swear to god, when I’m like: ‘What’d you do this weekend?’ He’s like [in Luis voice]: ‘I went to jail, dawg.'”
Luis’s funniest scenes are what director Peyton Reed calls his “tip montages.” In them, Luis tries to explain where he got a heist tip from, but tells an overly convoluted version of the story. Reed credits McKay and Rudd for adding those into the movie.
“When we were working with Michael, we liked the idea of creating this character. He’s a very excitable guy, who’s a very sweet character,” Reed says. “One of the first scenes that [McKay and Rudd] wrote was Luis serving waffles to the other guys, and the idea that he’s sort of this father figure to these guys, he really takes care of his criminal buddies … and then it just grew from there, the idea that, you know, he loves fine wines and he loves expressionist art.”
Pena still has a hard time grasping that jump in interests, butting in to ask, “How did you guys, like, you know, go from art, fine wine — waffles?”
“He’s got wide-ranging taste,” Reed quips back. “But yeah, that was something that Adam and Paul added and then we built on through the shooting and we just liked the idea of making it kinetic and feel like a heist movie, but that Luis’s tips were not always solid and he tends to ramble as he tells these stories because he’s very excitable.”
Pena felt the pressure not only to be funny in the movie, but to do his son Roman proud. He’d been reading his 7-year-old Marvel comics, so when Pena landed the role, Roman told him, “Don’t mess this up.”
“I was like thoroughly really nervous because like I want to be the cool dad, but it was really loose on set,” Pena says. “I was a nervous wreck, and Paul, he’s like, ‘You know, just do what you want, man. Let’s do things. Let’s explore and let’s have fun.'”