While there were plenty of rumors circulating about his mysterious character prior to the release of Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, we eventually learned that William Jackson Harper (The Good Place; The Resort) was actually playing an original character named Quaz, who is a telepath from the Quantum Realm.
With no comics backstory to draw inspiration from, the fan-favorite actor was given a chance to really make the character entirely his own and when we caught up with Harper last week, he was kind enough to walk us through his process. He also spoke at length about experiencing the massive scale of the Marvel Cinematic Universe firsthand and working with the one-and-only Paul Rudd, amongst other things.
Read on for our full interview with William Jackson Harper and please remember to SUBSCRIBE to my channel for exclusive content!
ROHAN: Coming off The Good Place, which is its own very strange project, what was your experience coming into the massive scale of Quantumania and the larger MCU?
WILLIAM: Well, it's huge. The scale of everything is much larger than what I'm used to, and this cast is stacked with people that I've been watching for years through various projects. I'm still starstruck often when it comes to these projects. I mean, this is not the first time I've been starstruck on a project, honestly, my first one that people knew about, I was starstruck on that one, and I think every subsequent project, I've been like, ‘Oh, wow, I've been watching you for years and here we are in a scene together!
Now, I’m just gonna do my best not freak out.’ But that's sort of the biggest thing, is working with people that you've been a fan of, and watched for years, and years, and years and years, in several different things, along with the scale of everything.
ROHAN: Since Quaz doesn't have a direct comics counterpart, what was your approach to getting into character? Who did you see him as? Or was it just the script and Peyton and Jeff that helped you get to where you needed to go?
WILLIAM: I largely played it how it laid. The jokes are there, and I feel like this is the guy who has been reading minds whether he wants to or not for his entire life, and he's over it. He's over it, and he doesn't trust anybody except Jentorra, because she is saying what she is thinking all the time, and I think that's why he throws his weight behind her.
Because, A) she's physically more capable than all of us, but then, B) on top of that, she's the most honest of all of us, of all the rebels. So, yeah, I think that's sort of how I took it. I didn't want to lean too much into any sort of potential comic counterparts, or if there's anyone that shares any capabilities with Quaz in the comics or anything like that. I wanted to steer away from that because the character is an original character, so we can do whatever we want. I feel like that's probably the best way to go about it.
ROHAN: Paul Rudd just seems like a really awesome guy, what was it like working with him?
WILLIAM: Honestly, I just had to not freak out and not be starstruck at the fact that I was in the scene with Paul Rudd, and even - this is something that as my career progresses, this happens a lot more, where I'm working with someone that I've been watching for years and years and years, and and I have to find a way to settle the hell down and just be there and do my work. But he's such a cool guy. He's such a chill, laid back, open person that you kind of get over it, and you're able to just do your job.
ROHAN: Since the film is so weird and unique, especially visually, was there anything about the film that caught you off-guard? Did it turn out how you imagined it would or was it even beyond your wildest imagination?
WILLIAM: I think that the world as it was rendered… Actually, I was surprised at how much of it was kind of how I imagined it. I'm surprised that it kind of felt similar in certain ways. Honestly, there wasn't a lot in there that I was like, ‘Oh, that's not how I imagined that at all.’
I wondered if it was actually going to work, there were certain things that I was wondering if they were going to work, if they were going to play the way that I would hope they would play and a lot of the scenes did, a lot of the renderings and the visual aspects of things sort of played in a way that I thought that they would and were actually more rich and more full than well, actually, more rich and more cool than what I imagined. The work of everyone on this film is, I think, really, really damn good. I think it's just far more rich than I initially thought it might be and a lot more dangerous, honestly, in a lot of ways than I thought it might be.
Super-Hero partners Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) return to continue their adventures as Ant-Man and the Wasp. Together, with Hope’s parents Janet van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), and Scott’s daughter Cassie Lang (Kathryn Newton), the family finds themselves exploring the Quantum Realm, interacting with strange new creatures and embarking on an adventure that will push them beyond the limits of what they thought possible.
Directed by Peyton Reed and produced by Kevin Feige, p.g.a. and Stephen Broussard, p.g.a., “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania” also stars Jonathan Majors as Kang, David Dastmalchian as Veb, Katy O'Brian as Jentorra, William Jackson Harper as Quaz and Bill Murray as Lord Krylar. The sci-fi adventure opens in theaters on Feb. 17, 2023.