Eternals Press Conference: Zhao, Chan, Jolie, Madden, Feige, and More (Full Recap)

On Tuesday afternoon, the cast, director, and producer of Marvel's Eternals assembled for a virtual press conference ahead of the film's release. This followed the premiere night screening, which has seen various reactions surface online for the first time. On hand for the global virtual press conference was Eternals director Chloé Zhao, cast members Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Barry Keoghan, Don Lee, Kumail Nanjiani, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyre Henry, Lauren Ridloff, and Kit Harington, along with Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige. 

Feige starts the conference by crediting producer Nate Moore and director Chloé Zhao for honoring Jack Kirby's comics with their ambitions and visions. "It was in a post-Infinity Saga world, we wanted to make a bold new step and say, 'You don't know everything about the universe, yet.' And, 'There are these 10 great heroes you haven't met,'" Feige said. 

Zhao explains she thinks you can see the beauty of the cosmos in the smallest things on Earth. She wanted to capture the scale of the sun and intimate relationships, simultaneously. 

"I was attracted to this project for many reasons," Jolie explained. "I just wanted to be a part of this family before I even knew very much about who I was going to play...[Chloe is] known for bringing reality to a film, to somebody's true4e self. A lot of us were cast to bring out something from our lives, maybe something we weren't even aware of and leet it live and let it grow within the film...I think [women] often have to present to be fully together and to be strong and, yet, I think [Thena] holds both which I think many people do and it's important to see it."

The moderator turns to Chan and asks about Sersi's journey alongside these Eternals heroes. "Sersi is a super hero but her powers are not the most obvious or the flashiest. She's not the best fighter but what she does have is empathy and a real affinity for humankind and the Earth. She's a free spirit...It's kind of her coming of age, even though she's a thousand years old."

Madden is asked about his character being in a romance in the middle of a super hero epic. "I'm kind of used to playing lovers, often, but to play someone who is such a soldier but all of his decisions are driven by love," Madden said. "With Ikaris, it's the opposite of that. He's kind of trying to bury that love because it gets in the way of his duty."

What does it mean to Hayek to represent Mexians in Eternals? "IT's a really humbling experience because I dream big. I dram big and if I hadn't, I wouldn't have gotten here at all but in my big dreams, I wanted to be a super hero and I wanted to work with the best directors in the world and have big blockbuster movies and also movies that are art that are made from a very deep place with great directors...but it didn't happen for me. It didn't happen that much for 40s, you go, 'Oh, screw them, they don't get it! They missed out! I would've been great in the art films! I would've been great as a super hero.'...It's very humbling when in the middle of your 50s a brilliant director gives you the opportunity to do both, to do something that comes from a deep place...I was wrong. Everything is possible. It's such a humbling sensation. When you think about it, in your 50s, Mexican, I'm short with big boobs, it's not the normal super hero!...It was a man [in the comics]! Impossible!...They let me do my action!...They were not afraid of the insurance that grandma was going to break in the middle of it!" She saw a family when she was leaving the premiere, all dressed as Ajak, and she wanted to cry.

Henry explains that he was most attracted to this role and it was both Zhao's work and his opportunity to play Phastos, a character who is an ancestor, and has many opportunities to lose faith in humanity. "Through all of that, him being eternal, him being never able to die, he still chose love," Henry said, "even though his genius was used against." He hopes that everyone takes away from this movie that, "the heart of humanity is still worth saving."

Harington is asked for Dane's take on all of the crazy super heroes and villains. "He's a nice guy," Harington said. "I feel like I'm representing humanity. It's me and Phastos' husband and kid who are representing humanity. From the beginning, I had to represent something that was worth saving. I hope Dane comes across as a man whose worth saving...a man flies out of the sky and shoots lasers out of his eyes and steals his girlfriend and he's cool with it." He says his character is mostly in the beginning of the film and then the film goes on without him for the most part. "I was at the read through at the start and everyone looked so happy and alive. My shooting was in the final two weeks and I came in and everyone was just broken! Just jittery."

Feige points out that the "history of humanity" represented in the movie had to accurately reflect humanity which is why the cast is so diverse and, in some cases, changed from the comics. 

Don Lee describes how immersive the sets were. "They made this forest," he recalled. "I was like, 'Uh, is this the right place?' I thought I went the wrong way. I was so impressed by the all great, diverse cast from all over the world." He also explains how he is familiar with action scenes but this called for his imagination because he was fighting against the air.