Eternals: Salma Hayek on Marvel Unfamiliarity and Representation

Salma Hayek is the latest superstar who got caught with baptism by fire into the Marvel Cinematic Universe alongside Angelina Jolie in the upcoming superhero team film Eternals. While promoting her latest indie film Bliss, the actress talked to Variety about how a friend got her acclimated and caught up to the MCU upon learning of her casting as Ajak, the leader of the superpowered group, and the awkwardness of accepting the role before reading the script.

Salma Hayek
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How Salma Hayek Took Role in Eternals Before Reading Script

"I'm very lucky," Hayek recalled. "I have a Mexican friend and she's a female, who's the biggest Marvel geek that you can imagine. My problem was, I was sworn to secrecy because I was one of the first people that they hired, but I had to keep it in a secret for a long, long time. So, when I had the call, I said to them, 'I confess. Eventually, I will know everything that there is to know, but what are the Eternals? Do they exist in comics? I don't know who's Ajak.' And then they explained everything to me. They explained me the script. They didn't give me the script. I had to sign the contract without reading the script. They wouldn't let me see the script until I signed. That was very unsettling."

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Eternals Logo. Credit: Marvel Studios/Disney

When Hayek recalled the pitch, the actress was just excited to be working with director Chloé Zhao. "I was scared," she said "But it doesn't matter because I'm going to tell you why I didn't care. I love the director. She's brilliant. And then I like that [Ajax] is kind of the leader. She's the only one that can talk to the Celestials. And I said, 'I'll get to be bossy on this one, too. I can play that.' Giving instructions, telling people what to do, I can do that. Then I was afraid of the outfit. I'm claustrophobic. I was very afraid that I was going to feel like I couldn't move. It has a completely different DNA from the [other Marvel movies]. It's shot different than all the other ones. It's in real locations and they found some crazy extraterrestrial-looking locations. I don't know if I'm allowed to talk about what they do with the camera, but…it's not mostly done in post. The cinematography is incredible."

As Hayek had time to soak in the responsibility of taking such a role, she realized the opportunity it meant for someone like herself who had an uphill battle dealing with Hollywood stereotypes and typecasting. "It was empowering," she said. "It really moved me. …They told me [early in Hayek's career], 'It's never going to happen for you here.' I am representing. It's not because I'm putting on an outfit but we get the right to be superheroes today. I'm also 54. So there was something really moving, not just for me, but for everything, all the different stereotypes. She's not sexy. You know what I'm saying? She's not sexy at all. I'm very short. I've been bullied for being short my entire life. And suddenly, it doesn't matter. You're a superhero in the Marvel universe. It moved me." To read more on Hayek's thoughts on Donald Trump and her other upcoming film Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard, you can check it out on Variety. You can check out Bliss on Amazon Prime Video. Eternals is tentatively scheduled for theatres on November 5.

The saga of the Eternals, a race of immortal beings who lived on Earth and shaped its history and civilizations.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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