By Mary Milliken
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After throwing audiences a curveball by playing flamboyant pianist Liberace, leading man Michael Douglas is ready to make another unconventional career choice, this time playing scientist Hank Pym in Marvel superhero film "Ant-Man."
Disney-owned Marvel said on Monday that Douglas, 69, will play Henry 'Hank' Pym, the creator of the technology to shrink a human to the size of an insect and thus become Ant-Man. "Anchorman" star Paul Rudd, 44, will play Scott Lang, the alter-ego of the diminutive Marvel superhero.
"I've been dying to do a Marvel picture for so long," Douglas told Reuters on Monday. "The script is really fun, the director is really good. Dylan (the actor's 13-year-old son) will love it. He'll have a picture he can see."
Pym's character first appeared in the 27th issue of Marvel Comics series "Tales to Astonish" in January 1962. Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, said in a statement posted on Marvel.com that Douglas will play Pym with "charm and fortitude."
Douglas, who won a Best Actor Oscar in 1988 for Oliver Stone's financial drama "Wall Street" and picked up a Golden Globe award on Sunday for his turn as Liberace in HBO movie "Behind the Candelabra," is taking a rare step into the world of big-budget franchise action films.
"Sometimes - like (when) they didn't see you for Liberace - you've got to shake them up a little bit and have some fun," Douglas said of surprising both studios and audiences with his decision to do a superhero film.
Walt Disney Co's foray in bringing Marvel's superhero universe to the big screen has proved to be a lucrative choice, with films such as "Avengers" and "Iron Man 3" crossing the $1 billion mark at the worldwide box office.
The plot for "Ant-Man" is being kept firmly under wraps. The film, directed by Edgar Wright, is scheduled to be in theaters in July 2015.
And while Douglas has only done one sequel in his career spanning more than 40 years - Gordon Gekko in 2010's "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" - the actor teased about his involvement in future "Ant-Man" sequels.
"(Marvel) reciprocated well, there are sequels. Who knows?" the actor said.
(Additional reporting and writing by Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Patricia Reaney, Leslie Adler and Eric Walsh)