What do you do after half your friends are vaporized by a super-villain? The world has been waiting patiently for the answer since last year’s Avengers: Infinity War, where the genocidal warlord Thanos wrecked destruction on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Emma Fuhrmann, who plays Ant-Man’s daughter Cassie Lang in the follow-up, has been waiting, too. She hasn’t been allowed to confirm any details about her character until the day we speak. Now, she’s basking in a sense of liberation, and it’s palpable.
“It's so crazy to me. I mean, two years having to keep the secret,” she says. “I just want to go out on my balcony and be like, ‘I'm in Avengers: Endgame!!!!’”
It’s the afternoon following the big premiere, when Fuhrmann stepped onto the red carpet at the Los Angeles Convention Center in a black Elizabeth Kennedy gown with a flower-adorned bustier. She recently completed this breezy Flaunt photoshoot with make-up phenom and photographer Beau Nelson she says they nailed down more quickly than almost any other she’s done before.
The actress from Dallas, Texas, has been coming back and forth to Hollywood with her family since she was an eight-year-old. In Aug. 2018, they decided to make the move to California permanent. But she couldn’t really tell her friends what she was up to. She’s been listed on the movie’s IMDB page, but there was no character name attached. Now, with the veil of secrecy lifted, she’s almost at a loss for words.
“I don't even know what to say,” she says. “Like, I can finally talk about it!”
In the movie, Fuhrmann gets to play daughter to Paul Rudd’s Ant-Man. A self-described dramatic actress who made her name taking on complicated characters alongside Morgan Freeman, Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, Fuhrmann relished her impassioned role on Endgame.
“She is sort of a firecracker,” she says of Cassie. “She wants to be like her dad.”
One of the plot reveals is that she has to deal with her dad disappearing for five years – and then reappearing.
“It's a little bit hard for her to handle,” she says, referring to the spoiler-alert worthy tidbit about her character’s emotional arc. “When she's reunited with him it's like her world, her heart, is put back together.”
The emotion she brought to the table for this tender reunion scene was fuelled by the loss of her grandfather, who died five years ago.
“It's a long time to be separated from a loved one,” she says. “I just sort of connected to that: If he were able to be brought back to this Earth, what that would feel like? Like, your heart being put back together.” Fuhrmann enjoyed letting loose for the scene and appreciates how the Russo brothers, who directed the film, allowed her do so many different takes – including adlibs. “They just really let their actors thrive,” she says. “It was great.”
Fuhrmann loves how acting allows her fans to connect with what she’s going through. “I can step into these people's shoes, and I know that when people see it on screen, they're going to be able to, too,” she says, “and it's going to impact them in some way.” That’s something she’s had a lot of experience with, like in A Taylor Story (2016), a short where she played a teen who gets cancer. In that instance, she drew on a previous acting experience where she visited girls with the disease to prepare for a role. “Afterwards, we really just use our life experiences,” she says, “because I feel like acting isn't pretending or faking. It's, like, molding what you've experienced into your character.”
She grew up quite a bit on the set of The Magic of Belle Isle (2012), working with Morgan Freeman, Rob Reiner and Virginia Madsen. She remembers how Freeman would stay in character, constantly working with the script. Madsen taught her how to be a good cast mate, organizing Mustache Mondays, White Castle Wednesdays and Friday parties. “She was super inclusive to the crew, and to the cast,” she remembers, adding at the end they even rented an ice cream truck. “I learned how to be professional on and off screen from them.”
Up until now, her characters have mostly been able to exist in a world that would feel familiar to fans of Juno or Lady Bird. “I always joke that I never play a princess,” she says, “like, ‘Why am I always a tomboy or the bad character?’” Of course, it’s been thrilling for her to inhabit quasi-anti-heroines. But now, she gets to experience the blockbuster rush.
Fuhrmann can’t help but think about how, had she made one single move differently (literally), she may never have become an Avengers cast member. She’d been attending what she refers to as “regular high school” in Dallas, but when the summer came around, she decided to really ramp up her focus on acting. So the Fuhrmanns headed back to the City of Angels. “My family came out for the month of June,” she says. “If I hadn't been in Los Angeles at the time, who knows if I'd even have gotten that audition at all.”
She’s sure glad she did. After all, working with Paul Rudd was a dream, apparently. “He was the sweetest person in the entire world – so sweet,” she says. “He was such an easy scene partner.”
One thing she marveled at (sorry, I had to), was the CIA-level clandestineness on the project. You can’t blame the producers. After all, even adjusted for inflation, the MCU is far and away the most valuable movie franchise ever to exist. This movie will have an outsized role on the company’s overall balance sheet. “Being on a Marvel set is like a completely different world,” she says. “There's so much secrecy.” To protect plot details, actors don’t even get scripts, and are told relevant information directly. That's known as a run-down. One time when the Russo brothers were giving her and Rudd a rundown, the guidance suddenly interrupted. “I'm so sorry, but can we ask you to step out for a second?” Fuhrmann remembers being asked. “We just have to share some information with Paul. It's confidential.” She understood, and walked out of earshot. “I was like, ‘I understand.’” That’s Marvel for ya.
During production, Fuhrmann befriended first assistant director Chris Castaldi. On her last day on set, he arrived at her trailer with nine movie posters in tow. These were being personalized for the big wigs behind the shoot – executive producers, directors, etc. – and Castaldi wanted to make sure she got the chance to sign alongside the top billed talent from the 22-installment run. Fuhrmann felt deeply honored. “I got to sign the posters along with Robert Downey Jr., the six Avengers and all the influential characters who are part of the Marvel Universe,” she says. “I took so many pictures and videos of myself signing the posters. I will never forget that.”