Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania revealed just how strange the MCU’s Quantum Realm truly is. Not every citizen of that microscopic dimension was a talking vegetable or friendly pink goo, though. Katy O’Brian played the humanoid Freedom Fighter leader Jentorra. What was it like playing the film’s rebel warrior? How much of her character was based on the comics version? And how might her previous Marvel role play into her future in the franchise? O’Brian told us all about that and more—including why the Quantum Realm smelled awful—when we had a chance to speak to her about the newest Ant-Man movie.

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Nerdist: William Jackson Harper talked to us about how real people played the Quantum Realm’s non-humanoid and CGI roles. But I’d like to know how you kept your performance grounded while acting in a world that didn’t really exist.

Katy O’Brian: We did have a lot of actual artifacts around us. They built models of those buildings that kill people. They built little plants that we got to walk around in. We were on dirt, and for a while we were on some really stinky dirt because they used some stuff that nobody was having. It was nasty. You got to smell the Quantum Realm. You got to see the Quantum Realm around you. And costumes, hair, makeup, they did a phenomenal job because they found people who were seven feet or taller. They had people who were maybe four feet or shorter. And they had people who were supposed to glide so they’re in these crazy costumes. They had the owl people. Looking around, they really did a good job of creating the actual world for us, so we didn’t have to do much pretending.

There was even a scene where we’re charging the tower and there’s fire everywhere, and I had to jump over fire. It felt pretty real in a lot of ways. The only difficulty is the blue screen stuff that is the outer rim, the big environment. And in that instance, the thing is collaboration. It’s like, “Okay, what am I looking at? Where are we looking? And what’s the level of emotion or fear in that instance?” Specifically with M.O.D.O.K. coming around, I’m like, “What is that?”

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Jentorra has a comic book counterpart, but there are meaningful differences between her and your character. Did you use Marvel Comics to develop or understand your version of Jentorra?

O’Brian: I tried a little bit. There are so few issues with Jentorra, and they did make significant changes. But I don’t really know their plans for the future in terms of if they’re going to bring up Jarella or if that’s even a connection they’re going to have. I just consulted with Peyton [Reed] about where I am in the world they’re creating and left it more towards that because I’m really not sure how much we’re going to cross over with the actual comic.

The Quantum Realm exists outside of space and time, so it’s not clear how long its citizens even live. Did you learn specifics about Jentorra’s age and how long she’s been dealing with Kang?

O’Brian: No. Here’s the thing, physics was never my strong suit. It’s the sole reason I didn’t major in neuroscience. I had to do a whole extra year of physics, and I was like, “I can’t do it.” We did discuss, obviously, she was there within the time period that Janet was there. So it’s like, what, 30 Earth years plus some? But in terms of how that overlaps in human years or in Quantum years, I don’t really understand. I just know it’s a long time. Long enough for him to have destroyed a bunch of communities.

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We get an idea of your character’s backstory, and we understand where she’s coming from, but what can you tell us about her and her past that maybe isn’t obvious in the movie?

O’Brian: We discussed so much about her relationship with Janet in particular. We had hoped we’d be able to link them up at some point during the movie and really show what that relationship was like. But because we never really got to develop that or show that, it’s hard for me to answer that question in terms of that relationship.

I made my own little head canon of Xolum, the guy who shoots the massive beam out of his head. I made him my adopted son. For Veb, we just realized there was something so endearing about him that it was a really good way to show Jentorra’s softness, to look at this little blob creature and always have a smile.

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And Will [Jackson Harper] is my right hand man. He’s my guide, my go-to. And all the tribes were also really, really different and really cool. All of my people were super just jacked, crazy looking bodybuilder people. We were definitely more of the warrior society, the fighters. They were coming up with a little bit of a mythos for the weapon I had. Which, again, it’s all a work in progress, I think. I don’t know really how much they’ve planned for it or if they have anything else. I never know if I’m going to be seen again.

My plan was to save this question for the end, but I feel like I have to ask it now. I know you can’t tell us even if you know if Jentorra or any of her Variants will ever appear in the MCU again, but hypothetically, if that were to happen, how would you like to return to the franchise?

O’Brian: It would be fun to either have the Quantum Realm be a significant part of either banishing all the Kangs or somehow having resources that help them in the surface world. That would be amazing. Also, it would be funny in a Thor-esque way to be pulled out of the Quantum Realm into the surface world. It’d be really great to wear more clothes or something.


I wouldn’t be doing my job as a Nerdist writer if I didn’t ask the nerdiest question possible. This is not your first time in Marvel, so what would you say to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans who think there’s a possibility Jentorra is a Variant of Kimball?

O’Brian: They’ve opened that door. It could be anything. That’d be funny if they did a little side thing with that. But from what I understand, there was a point where they separated those universes around. I can’t remember which season it was where they just were like, “Okay, Feige is taking over, and it’s going to be less canon.” But I don’t know. That’d be hilarious.

Have you entertained that possibility?

O’Brian: I haven’t. To me, they’re completely separate characters, but it’s definitely fun to think about now.

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You talked about the stuff with Janet that you wish you’d gotten to do. Were there any scenes you filmed that didn’t make it into the final cut that you wish had?

O’Brian: Some of the fight scenes we tested out didn’t make it in. They cut around some of my fights that I thought would make it. But the movie’s not about Jentorra and it’s not about my fighting skills. That’s all I would love to have seen more of. But also, I think I had a short little bit where I interacted with Bill Murray’s character Krylar. It was a really, really short, hot second. But I think it’s cool to see the people that are still fighting and the people that gave up.

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I know it’s not Jentorra’s movie and it’s not about her fighting skills, but you’re a martial artist with a lot of onscreen experience. Was there anything you had to learn or any special trainingyou needed to do to play Jentorra?

O’Brian: I had never done any staff work at all, so, pretty much from day one, my stunt double Nilly Cetin and I started working on the fundamentals of just wielding a staff. I probably spent more time in the stunt tent than I did on the actual set just trying to perfect it or make it look even half as cool as she could. Because at the end of the day, I’m almost 5’8″ and she was 5’3″ or something. When I walked in the room, they were like, “Oh crap.” That’s not a great height match. But once I worked with them they saw that I could do it. They pretty much were set on just letting me do the stunt stuff. Then she just choreographed and taught me how to do it.

I was also filming another show at the time, so whenever I was gone, she would do that stuff so people could have reactions. And so it was a really, really cool collaboration. But yeah, I had to learn a lot. A lot of staff work.

Obviosuly the staff was both important to you as an actor and to the character. You know how superhero fans are, what can you tell them about this staff that makes it so special?

O’Brian: It’s pretty cool it re-calibrates your body, essentially. It’s along the lines of what Janet was trying to do at the end of Ant-Man 2, where it’s like we’re still trying to understand what the Quantum Energy does. But it looks like it reassembles atoms and explodes people. I’m guessing along the lines of that is what it does, which is pretty awesome. But again, the mythology, I think, is still pending.

Mikey Walsh is a staff writer at Nerdist. You can follow him on Twitter at @burgermike, and also anywhere someone is ranking the Targaryen kings.