Lauren Ridloff is best known for playing Connie on The Walking Dead, and soon she'll be seen in Eternals as Makkari. Marvel decided to make some major changes to Makkari for the upcoming film. On the page, the character is a "hulking, hearing white dude" and Ridloff is a deaf woman of color, making her the franchise's first deaf hero. Recently, the star had a chat with The New York Times about Eternals and shared some insights into what it's like being a deaf performer on a film set, and provided a story about her co-star, Angelina Jolie.
"In some scenes, I had to face a wall. As a deaf person, how do you cue me? At one point, I was sharing my frustration with Angie - Angelina Jolie - at a holiday party after a day of shooting. And she immediately made a suggestion - why don't we use a laser pen that special effects can easily erase? It was an 'Aha, wow' moment. Whenever I'm looking at a wall, the interpreters would use a laser pen to make a circle on the wall - 'rolling, rolling, rolling' - and once it went away that meant, 'Action!,'" Ridloff explained.
"I got to set believing that I had to show how easy I am to work with as a deaf person," Ridloff added when asked if she was comfortable asking for what she needed while on set. "I was concerned about seeming too fragile. But after working with others, I realized everyone has their own unique set of challenges, and that I need to think about what I need to deliver as an actor, and don't apologize for it." She continued, "Hollywood is finally figuring out why it's so important to have representation, and now it's more about how. That's the part that's more tricky. We need to have deaf writers and creative talent involved in the process of planning film projects from the beginning. When you have deaf experts within and on the stage, from the crew to makeup artists, it feels like that naturally leads to more authentic representation onscreen."
"Growing up, I didn't dream about becoming an actor. I didn't see myself on the screen. As a little girl, I thought I was one of only a few deaf people walking on this Earth. Now, as an adult, I'm aware there are at least 466 million deaf people and hard-of-hearing people out there. I'm not the only one. And that's what it means to have a deaf superhero - a lot more people will see a lot more possibility," Ridloff shared.
In addition to Ridloff and Jolie, Eternals is set to star Gemma Chan as Sersi, Richard Madden as Ikaris, Kumail Nanjiani as Kingo, Lia McHugh as Sprite, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Barry Keoghan as Druig, Don Lee as Gilgamesh, Kit Harington as Dane Whitman, and Salma Hayek as Ajak. In the film, a race of immortal beings with superhuman powers who have secretly lived on Earth for thousands of years reunites to battle the evil Deviants. Marvel Studios released a new trailer for Eternals last month. The trailer shed new light on the film's plot, the villainous Deviants, and the reason why the Eternals didn't help the Avengers in their fight against Thanos.
Eternals is currently scheduled to hit on theatres on November 5th.