One of this Fall’s most anticipated cinematic events is Marvel Studios’ETERNALS. The star-studded Superhero flick is directed and co-written by Academy Award-winning Filmmaker Chloé Zhao. ETERNALS centers on an alien race of immortals who re-surface after thousands of years to protect earth and its inhabitants from the evil Deviants.
We were incredibly-fortunate to sit-in on the global press conference for Marvel Studios’ ETERNALS and it was a star-studded affair with guests including:
Bryan Tyree Henry
In this epic panel, its stars and Creators shared a common sentiment – their great respect for Zhao in helping them find a truth about themselves in their respective characters. One interesting thing about this Film is that these Superheroes don’t look like your typical kind because in order for them to reflect humanity, they should look like humanity.
Producer Kevin Feige talks about this bold new step in direction for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Feige: “Post-Infinity Saga, we wanted to take a bold new step and say we don’t know everything about the universe, yet. And there are these ten spectacular superheroes you haven’t met who’ve been here the whole time.”.
Director/Writer ChloéZhao is asked about her first meetings with Feige and what they looked like.
Zhao: “It started with me showing him a Macro Photo of sand and quoting a Poem from William Blake and in that Poem, Blake is trying to convey that you can see the endless beauty of the cosmos, even within the smallest things you can find on earth. The vision of the Film was to set-out to capture that scale. Something as large as the creation of the sun to the whispers of lovers. Going on location and doing this kind of an immersive shoot together with the support of this amazing Cast is how we got here today.”.
Thena is the Goddess of War, played by Angelina Jolie. She is asked how she finds strength and survival in her own survivor story, in addition to what attracted her to the role?
Jolie: “I was attracted to this project for many reasons. I am a fan of the MCU, was a big fan of Chloé, and when they first talked to me about the story, it really was the Cast and the idea of what this family would be. I really just wanted to be a part of this family even before I know who I was I was going to play.”.
“Chloé‘s known for bringing-in reality to film, to somebody’s true self. So a lot of us were cast to bring out something from our own lives, something that we weren’t even aware of and then let it live and grow within the Film. She’s maybe the most fantastic thing I’ve ever played in a superhero, and yet my children thought she was the most like me they’ve ever seen. It’s hard to talk about her but her vulnerability – which she’s trying to balance -and being able to be the same woman who’s also considered very strong.. and yet she’s able to holds both, which most people do.
Sersi is played by Gemma Chan,who learns her places and embraces her strengths as the story progresses.
Chan: “Sersi is a superhero, but her powers aren’t the most obvious and flashiest. She might not be the best fighter, but what she does have is empathy and a real affinity for humankind. She’s a free spirit. I love that. That’s one of the most enjoyable things about thing Film going on this journey with the character. She learns to trust herself and grow into her own power really. That’s a really interesting thing to explore.”.
Richard Madden plays Ikaris, one of the most powerful Eternals, who is in a conflict of love (with Sersi) vs. loyalty in the Film.
Madden: “I’m used to playing lovers often. But to play someone who’s such a soldier, completely driven by love, is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. He’s actually wrestling with two characters who are very full of love and it comes out he’s actually the opposite of that. He’s trying to bury that love because it gets in the way of his duties. He’s constantly wrestling with it and that made it interesting for me.”.
Salma Hayek talks (hilariously) about finding success as a superhero at an unconventional stage in life.She plays spiritual leader, Ajak.
Hayek: “This was really humbling. I dream big. And in my big dreams I wanted to be a superhero, work with the best Directors in the world, make big Blockbuster movies and movies that are Art from a very big place. But it didn’t happen for me. You fight for it in your 20s, 30s and 40s and you go, ‘Screw them! They don’t get it! They missed out! I would’ve been a great superhero! Screw them! I’m gonna go do something out, like have a baby!’. (laughs) And then you give up! It’s very humbling when you’re in your 50s, a brilliant Director gives you the opportunity to do both! I was wrong. Everything is possible.”.
KumailNanjiani brings a ‘Bollywood Swagger’ to his role of Kingo and even does a musical number. He talks about the challenges of going outside his comfort zone.
Nanjiani: “I can’t put Chloé on the spot, and I can’t swear, so put-in a swear word here! Chloé lied to me. When we first talked about the Movie, she said there was a Bollywood dance scene and I said ‘I don’t think I can do that.’, She said ‘Okay, we’ll make it a Bollywood action scene and as soon as I got to London hehehe.. it’s a dance scene! And I was like, ‘Get me a dance teacher alright?’. And they were wonderful teaching me the Choreography, working with me for months and months because I was so outside my comfort zone.”.
“For me, ultimately it came down to trust… usually my instinct is to have a moment of and fear, but in meeting her, I realized she’s not going to let me suck in this thing so if she wants me to do something, I’m gonna do it!”.
“She had this whole Movie, this whole universe inside her head. I didn’t understand it until I watched the Movie. I felt, ‘This isn’t something I would do, but if Chloé says do it, let’s do it!'”.
Brian Tyree Henry plays Phastos, an intelligent inventor. He talks about finding the humanity in his character, who experiences his share of despair.
Henry: “I think it really came down to trust and I really wholeheartedly trusted Chloé, to piggyback off of Kumail. What attracted me to this part was I think of all the black men out there and how we are portrayed. What I love most about Phastos is that he is an Ancestor. All of us are Ancestors, technically. So Phastos predates everything and goes through all these things which actually makes him lose faith in humanity very quickly. And I remember coming into this project, I lost faith in humanity and just looking at all the things we’ve been through and looking at images of how black men were portrayed and how power was taken away from us, the lack of power. What I love about Phastos is that him being an Eternal, knowing that he can never die, he still chose love and still decides to have a family even though he may have to watch them perish. And try to bring heart and love into everything he did. It just really resonated with me.”.
“I remember the first time they approached me to be a superhero and I asked, ‘How much weight do you want me to lose?’, and Chloé said ‘What are you talking about? We want you exactly as you are.’. And to be a black man and have someone say they want you exactly the way you are is unlike anything I’ve ever felt.”.
Kit Harrington plays Sersi’s human boyfriend Dane, who seems to handle all sorts a catastrophe with a calm cool.
Harrington: “He’s a nice guy. I felt from the beginning I had to represent something that was worth saving. I hope that Dane comes-off a nice, stand-up guy and one thing I respect about him is that a man flies out of the sky shoots lasers out of his eyes and steals his girlfriend, and he’s kinda cool with it!”.
“I come in at the start and in some ways intro the Movie, and then it goes its own wonderful direction, so I felt a bit separate, but I do think the advantage is that you do have a glimpse of the humans at the start and it tells you who these guys truly are trying to save.”.
Some Snaps from the Junket:
Marvel Studios’ ETERNALS arrives in theatres November 5, 2021.
*Please exercise caution in observing COVID-19 protocols if seeing this in-theatre*.