Baddie ready for stardom

Hannah John-Kamen has appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Tomb Raider (2018) and Ready Player One (2018).
Hannah John-Kamen has appeared in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Tomb Raider (2018) and Ready Player One (2018).PHOTO: REUTERS

Actress Hannah John-Kamen plays Ghost in Ant-Man And The Wasp as a traditional villain

LOS ANGELES • When Hannah John-Kamen learnt that she was to be Marvel's next supervillain, she let out a yelp, hung up the telephone and cranked up Do My Thang, Miley Cyrus' empowering paean to self-determination.

Wrecking Ball might have been a better fit, given the actress' shock-and-awe introduction in Ant-Man And The Wasp (2018) as Ghost, an ethereal entity who passes through walls, but packs a vicious punch.

"I was back in London and I got the call, and it was all my agents together. I remember I literally just screamed. I was in my apartment, I was walking around, going, 'Oh my God, oh my God'," the 28-year-old Briton recalled.

"I was so excited, and then I just blasted out Cyrus' song Do My Thang. I don't know why - it was just on my playlist and I blasted that out and just danced."

In Hollywood, a role in a Marvel movie that lasts until the end credits can be a key to the kingdom, offering follow-up appearances in spin-off movies and all manner of Avengers mash-ups.

John-Kamen - who has credits in Game Of Thrones and Black Mirror as well as parts in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Tomb Raider (2018) and Ready Player One (2018) - is ready for superstardom.

It’s a male character in the comics... but to be the first person to take it off the page and actually give her life, it was an honour.

HANNAH JOHN-KAMEN anti-capitalist saboteur-turned-supervillain Ava/Ghost inon playing Ant-Man And The Wasp

The daughter of a Nigerian forensic scientist and Norwegian former fashion model from north-eastern England still pinches herself when she thinks about working with director Steven Spielberg.

She described taking direction from the icon on the spring blockbuster Ready Player One, in which she played sinister gamer gang leader F'Nale Zandor, as "absolutely amazing".

"There's no feeling like when you've done a take and he's so happy and he'd go, 'Now that's a movie moment.' And you've got that coming from Spielberg," she told Agence France-Presse in an interview in Pasadena, southern California.

Ant-Man And The Wasp, now showing in cinemas, is the sequel to 2015's Ant-Man, the 20th release in Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and the first to feature a woman in the title role.

Starring Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly, it is also only the second MCU film with a female principle adversary, after Cate Blanchett's Hela in Thor: Ragarnok (2017).

John-Kamen's Ava/Ghost - an anti-capitalist saboteur-turned-supervillain in the comics - acquires her mysterious powers in a laboratory accident that makes her cells intangible.

"It's a male character in the comics... but to be the first person to take it off the page and actually give her life, it was an honour," said John-Kamen.

 
 
 

The actress added that it was important not to play Ghost as a traditional villain - no dastardly plans for taking over the planet - instead giving a nuanced performance that emphasises her tragedy.

"I'm doing this for a reason, as an objective. The stakes are high. I don't think you just wake up in the morning and go, 'Ha, ha, ha. World domination - that sounds fun,'" she said.

Executive producer Stephen Broussard said Marvel was looking for someone less recognisable and was taken with John-Kamen's "intensity, vulnerability and sense of humour".

Her training as a dancer plus the desire to fully flesh out Ghost's threadbare backstory made her perfect for the role, he added.

As is Marvel's custom, John-Kamen was initially told very little about the part, but enjoyed "every single minute" of the audition process, which eventually took her to Atlanta to meet director Peyton Reed.

"You think with an audition, you'd be like, 'Oh my gosh, I was so nervous. Oh my goodness, I was shaking.'

"Of course, there's a high anxiety, but I remember just getting in there and going, 'Oh, okay - I feel really relaxed,'" she recalled.

"I'm really excited about this material and what we can do, and I'm excited to show you what I've come up with."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

• Ant-Man And The Wasp is showing in cinemas.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2018, with the headline 'Baddie ready for stardom'. Print Edition | Subscribe