This Friday, Nov. 5, movie fans everywhere will finally get to meet the Eternals, the newest team of superheroes that are joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But who are the actors behind these characters and where have you seen them before?
Just a quick primer, Eternals is about a race of immortal beings sent to Earth thousands of years ago to protect humanity from a threat called the Deviants. Now, after the events of Avengers: Endgame, a new threat emerges from the Deviants and the Eternals must once again reunite.
There are some noteworthy firsts with the characters of Eternals for the MCU, including featuring the first openly gay superhero (Phastos) in the Marvel movies and the first deaf superhero (Makkari). It is also the first MCU film to be directed by an Oscar-winning director, Chloé Zhao.
With a roster of talent that already includes A-listers like Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Elizabeth Olsen, Sebastian Stan, Tom Holland, Benedict Cumberbatch and plenty more, here are the actors of Eternals, some of who you already know and some who you will be introduced to with this film.
Eternals Character: Thena
Most Memorable Role: Mr. & Mrs. Smith
Where Else You May Have Seen Angelina Jolie: Maleficent; Wanted; Lara Croft Tomb Raider; Girl, Interrupted; Gone in 60 Seconds
Unquestionably Angelina Jolie is the most well-known actor in Eternals. Jolie was at the height of her stardom in the mid-2000s following her pair of Lara Croft Tomb Raider films and then starring in the action-comedy Mr. & Mrs. Smith. But, in case you forgot, Jolie is also an Oscar-winner for Best Supporting Actress in 1999 for the film Girl, Interrupted.
Jolie hasn’t been acting as much in recent years, only appearing in seven films since 2011, two of which were Disney’s Maleficent movies and another two providing her voice for Kung-Fu Panda. She’s been a bit more active behind the scenes, directing four films over that same time period, including In the Land of Blood and Honey, Unbroken, By the Sea and First They Killed My Father.
Eternals Character: Sersi
Most Memorable Role: Crazy Rich Asians
Were Else You May Have Seen Gemma Chan: Captain Marvel, Transformers: The Last Knight; Raya and the Last Dragon; Sherlock; Shetland
Gemma Chan is actually already a veteran of the MCU. She appeared as Minn-Erva in 2019’s Captain Marvel, but she was painted blue, in case you didn’t recognize her. In addition to the superhero genre, Chan also has plenty of experience with big blockbuster films, having starred in Crazy Rich Asians as Astrid Young Teo and the role of Quintessa in Transformers: The Last Knight; she also provided a voice for this year’s Raya and the Last Dragon.
But before she was a name that many film fans knew, you can still see Gemma Chan in some fan-favorite series, including Sherlock, where she appeared in the second episode of the first season, and Shetland, where she had a two-episode arc as Hattie James.
Eternals Character: Ikaris
Most Memorable Role: Game of Thrones
Where Else You May Have Seen Richard Madden: Cinderella; Bodyguard; 1917; Rocketman; Klondike
The King in the North (the first one), Richard Madden is known by most fans for his run on Game of Thrones, which of course ended in one of the most shock moments in TV history with the Red Wedding. While Eternals is certainly the biggest project he’s been a part of since the HBO series, Madden has a solid resume outside of the two franchises.
While not reaching the heights of Game of Thrones, Madden was the star of the British limited series Bodyguard, which became a hit in both the U.K. and the U.S. in 2018 and is getting ready for season 2. He’s also had some memorable supporting roles in films, including as the prince in Disney’s live-action version of Cinderella, as Elton John’s manager in Rocketman and a small part in Sam Mendes’ war epic 1917.
Eternals Character: Dane Whitman
Most Memorable Role: Game of Thrones
Where Else You May Have Seen Kit Harrington: Modern Love; Gunpowder; 7 Days in Hell; Testament of Youth; Pompei
The King in the North (the second one). Kit Harrington famously played Jon Snow on Game of Thrones, making Eternals a reunion with his GoT co-star Richard Madden (though the two were only ever in two-episodes together). Harrington had a much longer run on the HBO show than Madden, but he’s still been able to find some notable roles outside of Westeros and pre-Eternals.
Perhaps his best one to date was his performance in 7 Days in Hell, a faux sports documentary comedy where he starred alongside Andy Samberg, but he has also been in TV series like Gunpowder and Modern Love season 2, as well as films Testament of Youth and Pompei.
Eternals Character: Ajak
Most Memorable Role: Frida
Where Else You May Have Seen Salma Hayek: Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard; Grown Ups; Once Upon a Time in Mexico; From Dusk Till Dawn; Desperado
Along with Jolie, Salma Hayek is the long-established veteran of the Eternals cast. After getting her start in TV, Hayek broke out on the big screen with a handful of films working with Robert Rodriguez, including in Desperado, From Dusk Till Dawn and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. Her career highlight though is most likely playing artist Frida Kahlo in the aptly named biopic, Frida, for which Hayek earned a Best Actress nomination.
In more recent years, Hayek has been playing around on projects that include Grown Ups, a run on 30 Rock, a healthy dose of indie films like Beatriz at Dinner and How to Be a Latin Lover and the action-comedy Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. November will be busy for her, as just a couple of weeks after Eternals she is in the Ridley Scott film House of Gucci.
Eternals Character: Kingo
Most Memorable Role: The Big Sick
Where Else You May Have Seen Kumail Nanjiani: Silicon Valley; The Lovebirds; The Twilight Zone; Stuber; Portlandia
Perhaps few actors from Eternals got as much buzz before the movie as Kumail Nanjiani, as he was the latest Marvel actor best known for comedy to then get jacked for his role. The internet was set ablaze when Nanjiani, who at the time was best known for playing Dinesh in Silicon Valley, shared a photo of himself after training for Eternals.
Though Eternals isn’t the first experience Nanjiani has with action in his films, i.e. The Lovebirds and Stuber, Nanjiani has always focused more on the comedy part of these action-comedies. But if we’re going with the actor’s best work, that easily goes to the Amazon Prime movie The Big Sick, a dramedy that he wrote with his wife based on their own experience when they were having difficulty in their relationship but she comes down with a mysterious illness.
Brian Tyree Henry
Eternals Character: Phastos
Most Memorable Role: Atlanta
Where Else You May Have Seen Brian Tyree Henry: Widows; The Woman in the Window; Godzilla vs Kong; Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse; The Outside Story
Though Brian Tyree Henry had his first credited role back in 2009 (one episode on Law & Order), his career really started to take off in 2016, when he starred alongside Donald Glover in the FX series Atlanta, which actually just dropped a trailer for its third season recently (opens in new tab). Since then, Henry has probably been among the busiest actors working.
Just some highlights of Henry’s work over the last five years or so include the villainous Jamal Manning in the underrated crime film Widows; voicing the character of Miles Morales dad in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse; a small role in Joker; supporting roles in 2021’s Godzilla vs Kong and The Woman in the Window; and a number of roles in indie films, including The Outside Story, a gem of a movie that came out this past spring.
Eternals Character: Makkari
Most Memorable Role: The Walking Dead
Where Else You May Have Seen Lauren Ridloff: Sound of Metal; Wonderstruck; New Amsterdam (1 episode)
Lauren Ridloff is one of the actors making MCU history, as the first deaf actor/superhero to appear in one of their movies. But this isn’t the first time that Ridloff is playing in the world of superheroes, as she appeared in an independent film in 2018 called Sign Gene: The First Deaf Superheroes.
Many people may recognize Ridloff as Connie from The Walking Dead, which she has been on since 2018. Some of her other credits include supporting roles in 2020’s Sound of Metal and 2017’s Wonderstruck, as well as a guest appearance on New Amsterdam.
Eternals Character: Druig
Most Memorable Role: The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Where Else You May Have Seen Barry Keoghan: The Green Knight; Chernobyl; American Animals; Dunkirk; ‘71
Barry Keoghan has filled his career thus far working with some of the most distinctive and challenging directors out there (continuing that with Eternals’ Chloé Zhao). The Irish actor began his career with a number of U.K. productions — most notably ‘71 — but his breakout game when he was cast in Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer as the chilling character Martin.
His other major credits include working with Christopher Nolan on Dunkirk, in the mixed documentary/narrative style of American Animals, appearing in HBO’s mini-series Chernobyl and most recently in David Lowery’s medieval epic The Green Knight. Keoghan is set to be the actor that has a foot in both the MCU and the DC Extended Universe, as he has a role in 2022’s The Batman.
Eternals Character: Sprite
Most Memorable Role: The Lodge
Where Else You May Have Seen Lia McHugh: Songbird; Along Came the Devil; Totem; Hot Summer Nights
While Marvel movies often take recognizable actors and turn them into superstars, it has also made stars out of complete unknowns. These next couple of actors are in line to do just that.
Lia McHugh only has 10 credits to her name (per IMDb), with her most notable role coming in the 2019 horror film The Lodge, where she starred opposite Riley Keough. Her other film roles have been indie movies like Songbird, Along Came the Devil, Totem and Hot Summer Nights. She also has had some TV work in Into the Dark and American Woman. But for most, Eternals will serve as her big introduction.
Eternals Character: Gilgamesh
Most Memorable Role: Train to Busan
Where Else You May Have Seen Don Lee: The Good the Bad and the Weird; The Outlaws; The Neighbors; Sense8
Don Lee (sometimes credited as Ma Dong-seok) is a South Korean-American actor, but who has primarily been making his career in South Korea. His most widely known role to date probably came in the zombie film Train to Busan, though he has been working since 2005 and has starred in both TV shows and movies. Eternals won’t actually be his first English-language project, however, as he appeared in the Netflix series Sense8 in the blink-and-you-may-miss-it role of a bouncer.
Most Memorable Movie: Nomadland
What Other Movies Has Chloe Zhao Made: The Rider; Songs My Brother Taught Me
Also wanted to be sure to include Eternals director Chloe Zhao in this list, as this may be the first time that many movie fans will be seeing a film from one of the most exciting directors of the last handful of years. Even if you didn’t see it, most have likely heard of Nomadland, Zhao’s 2020 film that won Best Picture and made her the first Asian woman to win Best Director at the Oscars. Her previous two films, The Rider and Songs My Brother Taught Me, were much smaller but were praised for her lyrical directing style that quickly made her a talent to watch.
Ever since Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury was revealed as part of a post-credit scene for 2008's Iron Man, Marvel fans have known to never leave the theater until the very end or else risk missing out on a funny scene or potentially important plot point reveal or new character introduction. We know something is almost certainly in the cards for Eternals, but will its post-credit scene introduce even more new players to the MCU?
SPOILER ALERT if you do not want to know anything about the post-credit scene for Eternals.
Following the premiere of Eternals on Oct. 19, Variety write Matt Donnelly tweeted (opens in new tab) that musician/actor Harry Styles showed up in the Eternals post-credits scene, playing the character of Eros, the brother of Avengers: Endgame's big bad, Thanos.
Styles is best known for his music career, which began with the boy band One Direction but has seen him as a solo act in recent years, but he has been getting more into acting, appearing in Dunkirk, as well as a role in Olivia Wilde's next directorial effort, Don't Worry Darling, and the upcoming project My Policeman.
There were some rumors about Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown appearing in Eternals (opens in new tab), but she has not appeared in any listing of credits for the film and there was no reveal ala Styles following the film's premiere, so likely just wishful thinking among fans.
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Michael Balderston is a DC-based entertainment and assistant managing editor for What to Watch, who has previously written about the TV and movies with TV Technology, Awards Circuit and regional publications. Spending most of his time watching new movies at the theater or classics on TCM, some of Michael's favorite movies include Casablanca, Moulin Rouge!, Silence of the Lambs, Children of Men, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest and Star Wars. On the TV side he enjoys Peaky Blinders, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Saturday Night Live, Only Murders in the Building and is always up for a Seinfeld rerun. Follow on Letterboxd (opens in new tab).
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