Eternals might be one of the funnier Marvel movies, but don’t give director Chloe Zhao any of the credit for that. As Zhao told us in the interview below, “It’s so important to make the audiences laugh, but I find it easier to make them cry than to make them laugh.”
That’s why she relied on totally jacked comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani to spice up his character’s lines, which often help give the apocalyptic movie a lighter touch. “I give Kumail a lot of props for helping me with that,” says Zhao, noting that Nanjiani’s character in the movie, Kingo is, “very complex.” “It’s funny,” says Zhao. Kingo is “always a person who likes to make the situation comfortable, but if you think about him, he has very strong beliefs and he’s not afraid to stick by them. He just goes about it a bit differently than [Richard Madden’s] Ikaris.”
As a movie that introduces an entirely new line of heroes into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Eternals was always intended to be rather big. Still, with the Oscar winning director at the helm, the movie actually expanded its scope, shooting extensively on location—a rarity for Marvel films.
Zhao says her desire to use locations came out of her knowledge that “to convince the audience that these immortal aliens had walked a planet for 7000 years, there’s got to be a level of realism and immersion involved in the visuals.” Zhao says that tactile quality can’t be captured on a soundstage, because “you can’t really linger on the camera wide angle and be spontaneous because there’s an edge to the frame.”
Zhao also told us that she feels shooting on location helped amp up Eternals’ visual effects. “Having a film that’s so CG heavy, the characters are constantly interacting with other things,” says Zhao. “Shooting at real locations actually helps... Visual effects supervisors love that because they allow the nature to to inform what kind of elements they’re going to add to make it feel more seamless.”
There’s more from Zhao in the clip above, including her thoughts on Eternals’ diverse cast and why she doesn’t have a single piece of memorabilia from her films in her home.
Eternals hits theaters exclusively this Friday, November 5. You can read our review of the movie right here.