Salma Hayek knows a golden opportunity when she sees one. In Marvel's Eternals, she plays Ajak, the wise elder and leader of the group. The Marvel Cinematic Universe tapped many up-and-coming talents to star in their films like Chris Evans, Brie Larson, and Chadwick Boseman. The more seasoned actors like Michael Douglas, Robert Redford, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Samuel L. Jackson tend to take more auxiliary roles. The only exceptions are Iron Man's Robert Downey, Jr, and The Incredible Hulk's Edward Norton. Hayek spoke to Total Film about stepping into the type of role she hasn't played throughout her career until now.
"At 53 – finally! – I can be a superhero. I play Ajak, who is the leader of the superheroes and all of them are people you would never have imagined. Except for Angelina [Jolie]. Angelina – she was born to be a superhero!"
A Role of a Lifetime
Jolie is no stranger to franchises with her turn as Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider films. In the upcoming MCU film, she plays Thena, a fierce warrior Eternal, known for her strength and prowess.
The Mexican-American actress' career spans three decades starting on television. Known mainly for her dramatic roles, Hayek's done a few action roles and the occasional comedy.
"The rest of us [Eternals] are like misfits, and we're all superheroes, and I get to be the leader. That sounds really appropriate! Yes, why not? Let's go! It just made me feel like, 'Maybe they're doing something different.' And they are."
Hayek signed on the film jumping at the chance to work with director Chloé Zhao.
"The director is amazing. Did you see her first movie? The Rider? I was blown away," she says. Zhao impressed audiences in 2017 with her sophomore feature, a contemporary western which explores a young cowboy's journey of self-discovery after a near-fatal accident ends his professional riding career. "The one thing that excited me the most was the director. She's incredible."
Created by Jack Kirby, the Eternals made their comic debut in 1976. The team is unique from most heroes where they're akin to gods, who existed for centuries. Each possesses extraordinary abilities beyond humans and distinguishing characteristics that set themselves apart. The Eternals and their rivals, the Deviants were created by the alien Celestials. The Eternals swore to protect the earth from their nefarious counterparts.
The film also stars Richard Madden, Gemma Chan, Kumall Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, Lia McHugh, Don Lee, Barry Keoghan, and Kit Harington.
Eternals comes to theaters February 12, 2021.