As the trailer for "Beyond the Reach" makes clear, you don't necessarily want to take Michael Douglas' eccentric billionaire character hunting out in a hostile, remote environment, since he might just decide to start hunting you. Douglas, who will next pop up in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Hank Pym in "Ant-Man," relishes the chance to let loose with a really evil character. Especially when he gets to drive a $500,000 Mercedes.
Why won't you leave that nice half-naked boy alone?
(laughs) I know! Well, we had a deal. We had a deal. I remember working on that scene with him. I negotiated with him, made a perfect deal. We shook hands on it, and then he reneged. And what am I going to do? I can't trust him.
When you're approaching a character like this, how much fun is it to just let that malevolent side just run free?
It's such a ball. It's the most joy — because I'm not a comedian — other than getting a good laugh or trying to do a funny part. But the freedom of evil in a theatrical role is great. Going back to, obviously, Gekko. I don't know if this is 50 shades of grey, but it's a shade of grey from Gekko. People love villains, and most actors have given some of their best performances playing really bad guys. It's that freedom that doesn't allow you in a civilized society to behave that way, so the audiences kind of vicariously enjoy it — and so do you. But it's true, you have to anchor it in some kind of justification, otherwise it just gets off the track.
Gekko aside, how do you think this guy stacks up against some of your other villain roles?
This was pretty far over the top in a lot of ways. But I read this book back in the early '70s, it was originally called "Deathwatch." Obviously at the time I identified with the Jeremy Irvine part, but it had this sort of larger-than-life monster movie quality, so I tried to complement that with the car — and we lucked out with this Mercedes, which is just being released and is kind of the perfect vehicle. So I think it's a little broader, not quite as nuanced as some of the other ones I've done.
Is that actually a $500,000 car?
Yeah, that's it. It was the only one in North America, the prototype, and they already had about orders for about 500 of them. It's mostly, you know, Middle Eastern princes using them to go falcon hunting. The perfect wheels if you want to go falcon hunting. That's a limited commercial. (laughs) But it was cool, big engine, and it flew. Came with its own German engineer. They were worried that we were going to destroy it, but it can take on a lot.
So villain-wise, how does this character compare with your next role coming up of Hank Pym in "Ant-Man"? Or is he a bad guy?
No, he's not. It's very different. I mean obviously, as we talk I'm sure I'm going to get a blow-gun to the back of the neck from the Marvel security forces that march around like my God. (laughs) But no, the character of Hank Pym is very different, very different than this one. More intelligent and more controlled.
Well, we certainly don't want you getting shot with anything.
No, we don't. (laughs)
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter: @nedrick