- The cast of Marvel‘s “Eternals” includes Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, and more.
- The actors might be A-listers now, but it wasn’t always that way.
- Here are the earliest roles of the “Eternals” stars, before they were famous.
Following her success on the show, Hayek went to America in the early ’90s to pursue a Hollywood career.
Then she landed a leading role opposite Antonio Banderas in Robert Rodriguez’s 1995 movie “Desperado,” which marked her first-ever American film. Hayek told GQ that Rodriguez wrote the role of Caroline specifically for her, and she did her own stunts.
The following year, Hayek teamed up with Rodriguez again for his film “From Dusk Til Dawn.” Hayek played a vampire queen and had a memorable scene in which she danced with a real snake.
The actress continued to land more roles in films like “Dogma” (with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon) and “Wild Wild West” (with Will Smith).
Hayek earned her first Oscar nomination, for best actress in a leading role, for her part as famed Mexican painter Frida Kahlo in “Frida.”
The star, who founded her own production company called Ventanarosa, also produced “Frida.”
She went on to serve as an executive producer on the ABC show “Ugly Betty.” Hayek’s guest-starring role as Sofia Reyes earned her an Emmy nomination for outstanding guest actress in a comedy series.
Nowadays, she’s one of the most recognizable names in Hollywood and has fought to play complex characters in films.
Hayek stars as Ajak, a leader and motherly figure with healing powers, in “Eternals.”
At a press conference attended by Insider‘s Kirsten Acuna, Hayek said that portraying Ajak, a gender-flipped version of the comic-book character, is “humbling” because she doesn’t conform to the “normal” superhero look.
Gemma Chan made an appearance alongside David Tennant on “Doctor Who.”
Chan’s no stranger to sci-fi. “Doctor Who” fans may recognize the actress from the 2009 holiday special, “The Water of Mars,” where she appeared alongside David Tennant’s 10th iteration of the Doctor.
Chan played Mia, a geologist who the Doctor saves in the knick of time.
The actress appeared on other shows as well, like “Sherlock Holmes,” which starred MCU actors Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange) and Martin Freeman (Everett K. Ross).
Since then, Chan has starred in films like “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” “Mary Queen of Scots,” and, most notably, “Crazy Rich Asians.”
Chan portrays an Eternal named Sersi, who’s empathetic toward humans and can manipulate inanimate matter.
In an interview with Variety, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige described Sersi as the “lead” in the ensemble cast of “Eternals.”
This is Chan’s second time portraying a Marvel character. She previously played a Kree sniper named Minn-Erva in “Captain Marvel.”
Richard Madden was a kid actor who appeared in the 2000 film “Complicity” and a children’s sitcom called “Barmy Aunt Boomerang.”
Madden got into acting to help him overcome his shyness, according to The Guardian.
The actor told the publication that he struggled with school after starring on “Barmy Aunt Boomerang.”
“I always had this great interaction with adults,” he said “But at school it was different, and I wasn’t having a good time with having been on the telly. I’d lost a bit of the joy of it. Acting wasn’t good for my life then. It’s like the opposite thing to making friends. It’s the one thing to guarantee you won’t have any.”
Madden went on to appear on the show “Hope Springs” and “Sirens.” His breakout role came when he portrayed Robb Stark on HBO’s “Game of Thrones.”
Madden’s Ikaris is a powerful Eternal who can fly and shoot lasers from his eyes.
Ikaris is, essentially, the Superman of the “Eternals.”
Ikaris has been in an on-again, off-again relationship with Sersi for thousands of years. In real life, Madden and Chan have been friends for several years.
Angelina Jolie appeared in a few music videos in the early ’90s before becoming a household name.
Before “Hackers” and her first leading role in the direct-to-video “Cyborg 2,” Jolie appeared in a few music videos in the early ’90s, including Lenny Kravitz’s “Stand by My Woman,” The Lemonheads’ “It’s About Time,” and Meat Loaf’s “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through.”
She made her film debut in the 1982 movie “Lookin’ to Get Out,” alongside her real-life father, Jon Voight, who also cowrote the script.
Jolie’s supporting role in 1999’s “Girl, Interrupted” earned her critical acclaim and an Oscar nomination.
She later portrayed Lara Croft in two films inspired by the popular video-game character, starred alongside Brad Pitt in “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” and voiced characters in animated films like the “Kung Fu Panda” movies.
Jolie portrays Thena, a goddess of war, in “Eternals.”
Thena is one of the group’s strongest warriors and can use cosmic energy to manifest different weapons.
As part of her preparation for the role, Jolie told People that she did “everything from swords to ballet.”
Kumail Nanjiani had an uncredited role as a reporter in a 2008 “Saturday Night Live” skit.
The episode he appeared on was hosted by James Franco.
Nanjiani’s breakthrough performance came when he landed the role of a software engineer named Dinesh on HBO’s “Silicon Valley.”
The comedian garnered even more attention with the release of “The Big Sick” in 2017. The film was inspired by his relationship with his real-life wife Emily V. Gordon.
The couple wrote the Oscar-nominated screenplay and Nanjiani starred in the film with Zoe Kazan, who played Gordon.
Nanjiani portrays Kingo in “Eternals,” an immortal who’s also a famous Bollywood star and basks in the attention.
For his Marvel role, Nanjiani got jacked and spent months preparing for an epic Bollywood dance scene in the film.
Kingo can fire cosmic blasts from his hands.
Lauren Ridloff’s breakthrough role came on the Broadway stage before she joined the zombie apocalypse on AMC’s “TWD.”
Ridloff starred in 2018’s revival of “Children of a Lesser God.” Originally hired as a tutor for American Sign Language, director Kenny Leon asked her to do a read-through of the play and offered her the female lead.
Ridloff joined AMC’s hit series “The Walking Dead” on its ninth season in 2018, quickly becoming a fan-favorite. She took a break from “TWD” to film “Eternals” during the show’s 10th season and recently returned to film one of the show’s scariest episodes to date.
You may also recognize Ridloff from her performance in 2019’s Oscar winner “Sound of Metal.”
Ridloff plays Makkari, an Eternal with speedster abilities.
According to the film’s production notes, Makkari is the “fastest woman in the universe.”
Ridloff and her character are deaf, and the actress told the New York Times that Jolie helped to devise a system to cue her for scenes in “Eternals” using a laser pen.
Brian Tyree Henry’s earliest roles were on shows like “The Good Wife” and “Law & Order.”
Prior to working on film and TV, the actor appeared in theater productions of plays like “The Book of Mormon.” He later returned to Broadway to star in “Lobby Hero” with Michael Cera and MCU actor Chris Evans and subsequently landed a Tony nomination for best featured actor in a play.
Henry’s breakout role came in 2016 with the FX series “Atlanta,” in which he portrayed Alfred “Paper Boi” Miles.
The actor earned an Emmy nomination for his parts on “Atlanta” as well as the NBC drama “This Is Us.”
Henry’s Phastos is a skilled inventor.
Phastos is one of the smartest people in the MCU, creating technology that helps to advance mankind.
He is Marvel’s first openly gay superhero and his family is front-and-center in “Eternals.”
Lia McHugh first appeared on an episode of a TV documentary series called “A Haunting” in 2016.
Season nine, episode seven of the series, titled “Tunnel of Death,” showed McHugh playing a young girl named Jaycee who started having bad dreams when her family moved into a new home.
The actress made her film debut in 2017’s “Hot Summer Nights,” which starred Timothée Chalamet and Maika Monroe.
McHugh also appeared on the TV series “American Woman.”
In “Eternals,” McHugh’s Sprite can create illusions.
Sprite wants to be treated like an adult because she is, after all, thousands of years old. But she’s stuck in the body of a 12-year-old, so people underestimate her.
She has the ability to duplicate herself, make herself appear older, and make herself and others invisible.
Don Lee became a popular South Korean actor. His first acting credit was in a time-traveling action-comedy, “Heaven’s Soldiers.”
The 2005 film sends opposing North and South Korean soldiers back in time where they wind up needing to work together to fix history.
Lee (aka Ma Dong-seok) later won best supporting actor for his role in 2012’s “The Neighbors” at the 49th Baeksang Arts Awards. He became known for his role in 2016’s popular zombie drama “Train to Busan.”
Before going into acting, Lee studied at Columbus State Community College in Ohio and was a personal trainer. He returned to South Korea to pursue an acting career.
Lee portrays Gilgamesh, a strong fighter and protector.
Gilgamesh is the strongest of the Eternals, but probably also the biggest softie at heart.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of Marvel, and I really loved the character of Gilgamesh,” Lee told Entertainment Weekly. “I saw the potential for inspiring the younger generation as [the MCU’s] first Korean superhero.”
Barry Keoghan landed his first film role by answering an advertisement.
Keoghan landed his first film role in 2011 by answering an ad he saw in a window. He was cast in a small role in “Between the Canals.”
He later studied acting in Dublin before becoming known in Ireland after a role in 2013’s “Love/Hate” in which he played a cat killer.
You may recognize him for roles on HBO’s “Chernobyl” and “Dunkirk.” He’ll also appear in WB’s “The Batman” next year.
Keoghan stars as Druig, who has the power of telepathy.
Druig has the ability to control the minds of his fellow Eternals or humans.
Though he has an intensity about him, he has a soft spot for Makkari.
At a press conference for “Eternals,” Zhao said that Keoghan and Ridloff naturally started riffing when they first met, so the director played into their real-life dynamic in the film.
Kit Harington got his start on “Game of Thrones.”
Before we knew him on TV, Harington started his career in the theatre, performing in an adaptation of “War Horse.” Harington then famously starred on the HBO series as Jon Snow for eight seasons from 2011 to 2019.
Harington stars as a human named Dane Whitman in “Eternals.”
He finds himself in a love triangle with Sersi and Ikaris. In the comics, Dane wields a mystical sword and becomes a hero known as Black Knight.
Harington previously turned down a role in another superhero film, telling Insider that his role in “Eternals” was right for a number of reasons, including that his character, Dane, has a lighter air about him.
“There’s a comedic element that was different from other stuff that I get offered, and the future looked quite interesting,” he said.
“I learned along the way with ‘Thrones,'” the actor said of keeping spoilers under wraps. “‘Thrones’ became big as I was in it.”
“I learned along the way how to keep secrets,” Harington added. “Whereas with Marvel, I’m just entering this universe and being told there’s things I can or can’t say. So, I’m learning as I go here.”