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How David Dastmalchian Brought Veb to Life

Feb 26, 2023


Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania.

David Dastmalchian returned to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, not as Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) good pal Kurt, but rather, as a curious ooze-producing creature who’s obsessed with holes — Veb.

While lost in the Quantum Realm, Scott and Cassie (Kathryn Newton) cross paths with the Freedom Fighters, a group led by Katy O’Brian’s Jentorra that’s ready to do whatever it takes to stop Kang the Conqueror (Jonathan Majors). While Veb’s thrilled to make some new friends, Jentorra and the rest of the group are extremely wary of the visitors from above. However, they soon discover that together, they finally stand a chance against Kang and his army.

With Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania playing in theaters nationwide, I got the chance to talk to Dastmalchian about what it took to bring Veb to life on screen. In addition to walking me through the motion capture process, Dastmalchian also offered his thoughts on whether there’s more of Veb’s kind in the Quantum Realm, if Veb feels physical pain, and loads more.

You can read about it all for yourself in the interview below.

I’d ask you how you’re doing, but my god, you’re nonstop right now!

DAVID DASTMALCHIAN: [Laughs] It’s really good. It’s really, really good. It’s been such a joyful moment for me in my career because I’ve never gotten to bring a character like Veb to life. I’ve never gotten to be part of an experience like that sitting in a cinema and knowing that I was there on set wearing a mo-cap suit, finding this body and this physicality and this voice, but never having actually seen anything. It’s not like I got to look in the mirror and see Veb when we were doing the filming. So, just literally one of the most joyful experiences of my life.

I was reading another interview you had done where you said you had never had as much joy in working as you did when you were playing Veb, so what was it about the character that sparked that one-of-a-kind joy?

DASTMALCHIAN: Honestly, it’s a confluence of circumstances where I was in a dark place, I had been on an incredibly physically demanding and emotionally demanding shoot, I was separated from my family due to COVID things, and we had some illness in my family. My father was dying. I was feeling really low and [director] Peyton [Reed] said, “David, there is this role that we have created in the new film. I just believe that you’re the person to do it.” And I looked at it and they said, “Do you want to just record a voice and see how it goes?” I said, “No, please can we do this together on set?” And he said, “Oh my god, yes, I need you here.”

So I go, I get into this weird gray onesie with little dots on it – I’ve never done this before — and I’d begun this process of the body and the movement and the physicality of Veb, and feeling what that would look like, and the voice, and what that would feel like, and then I’m, all of a sudden, doing scenes with Paul and Kathryn, and all the rest of the Freedom Fighters who were amazing, Katy and [William Jackson Harper] and everybody else. It just felt like magic.

It took me back to why I love acting so much. It reminded me of being in a black box in Chicago doing theater and improv in a way that your imagination is your flashlight, and your imagination is what is helping you through the cave of discovery, as opposed to any restrictions on any part. It was so freeing and everybody was so loving and supportive, and let me just get as weird as I needed to with Veb.

Image via Disney

Can you paint a picture of what you looked like in a performance capture suit on set playing Veb? Like your body parts, where do they go and how do they match what Veb actually is?

DASTMALCHIAN: Sure! Well, I hope that Disney will share some of those images with you because I think they’re really powerful and I think it’s exciting for people who are into this kind of stuff to know that it’s not limiting and it doesn’t inhibit your creative process at all. Nor, to my opinion, does working in front of a blue screen because, to me, just like in the theater, you’re having to use your imagination to create the environment with which you’re playing.

So here I was, I immediately felt that Veb was low to the ground, that there was a wiggle to his body because he was gelatinous, so my butt had this wiggle to it, and I would do these, when I’d walk, this kind of flowy rhythm to it. I always kind of talk with my hands as David, so I was letting Veb work with his hands even though he wasn’t gonna have traditional hands. They were saying that what they wanted to do was let me be Veb on set, they wanted to film it in the mo-cap suit, and then, with the amazing VFX artists, start to really construct around my body what that would look and feel like, reflecting what Veb needed to be, which is this big jar of goo. Or as my daughter would say, looks like a pink pickle jar.

What I love, too, is that everybody who knows me really well, my wife and my friends who were at the premiere, when we left that night, they all looked at me and they go, “That was the most ‘you’ character you’ve probably ever played.”

I love that. You say how joyful it was for you and now it truly does feel like you’re sharing that joy with others via the final character.

In your opinion, are there more of Veb’s kind in the Quantum Realm and if not, is Veb distributing his ooze everywhere, like to the bar that Janet visits?

DASTMALCHIAN: Right, right. I believe that there used to be many of Veb’s kind, but they’re slow-moving and they’re not big fighters, and so the Conqueror really wiped them out. But they needed to be kept around for the production of the ooze because they’re beneficial to the military.

So I don’t know where they are, but I believe in my heart that there are some others of my kind out there, and I’m hoping that I can find them. But until I do, the family and friends that I have in the community of Freedom Fighters, just like we have in our communities that we build for ourselves and the families that we make for ourselves which are our friends and the people we choose to share our lives with and trust, that’s what he’s got right now.

I’m a little sad now, but hopefully, in the future, we’ll see more Vebs and we’ll see him reunited.

DASTMALCHIAN: That’s a great movie right there. It’s a pitch! I’m going right to Disney today. “I’ve got a pitch, guys. Veb’s journey home.” It’s like E.T., you know? But with Veb.

Image via Marvel Studios

Does Veb feel physical pain?

DASTMALCHIAN: Yes. Yes. I was shooting the sequence where I’m running and I’m excited because we’re gonna stop the Conqueror once and for all, and I get shot. So we shot that sequence with me physically there on set. And getting shot, I needed it to hurt because it added beauty and comedy to the moment of recognizing. So there was pain in the lasers cutting through Veb’s body, but Veb has rapid healing qualities about Veb’s form. So even though it was very painful and tragic, in the end, it was triumphant.

Of all of Veb’s scenes in the movie, which would you say changed the most from script to screen?

DASTMALCHIAN: You know, there’s a sequence when the Freedom Fighters are attacked by MODOK’s arrival at the camp where they’re going to capture these outliers, Scott and Cassie, and then they’re just trying to wipe out everybody else. They actually capture Jentorra and Quaz as well. During that sequence, originally, I don’t think that Veb was really mentioned. I think Veb just is shoveled off to one of the ships, but when we were shooting it, because I was there on the day, Peyton wanted me interacting. And it adds to the sadness of that experience and the tragedy of that where you see Veb getting hurt and Veb being scared and Veb crying out for his friends who were being kidnapped. So that felt like it had a lot more Veb presence in shooting than when I had originally read the script.

The more Veb the better, in my opinion.

DASTMALCHIAN: [Laughs] That’s the quote! That’s the article! That is your byline, “The more Veb, the better!”

I will stand by that quote!

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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