Director Chloe Zhao was ‘nervous to work with Angelina Jolie in Eternals’

·2-min read

Director Chloe Zhao had revealed she was nervous to work with Angelina Jolie in the Marvel superhero movie Eternals as she admired the actress, but said Jolie “really understood” what she was trying to do with the film.

The Oscar-winning filmmaker, 39, directed the sci-fi saga with Jolie playing the role of Thena, a fierce warrior Eternal who can form any weapon out of cosmic energy.

The movie, which was released to UK cinemas in November, focuses upon immortal aliens who have been secretly living on Earth for thousands of years waiting for the right moment to jump into action.

Eternals – UK Gala Screening
Angelina Jolie and Chloe Zhao with other stars of Eternals at the UK Gala Screening (Yui Mok/PA)

Discussing working with Jolie for the project, Zhao told Radio Times: “I was nervous at first, anyone would be. I’d admired her from afar pretty much my whole life.

“But because she makes films herself and they often take place in harsh places in the world, she really understood what I was trying to do.

“Angie is playing the physically strongest character, but Thena is broken inside and in order to have that vulnerability she shared a lot of who she is and what she’s gone through in life.”

The filmmaker also said it was an “honour” to direct a film within the Marvel franchise, but admitted she did feel a lot of pressure taking on such a task.

She added: “I did come in as a fan, so you want to make sure you do right by the fans but also move the MCU forward.

“We’re in a transitional time after the Infinity Saga and you don’t want to play it safe, you want to look at these films and ask, how can we deconstruct and redefine everything we think about them.”

Eternals, which follows the events of 2019’s Avengers: Endgame and is based on a group of superheroes who made their first appearance in Marvel comics in 1976, also features a string of stars including Richard Madden, Gemma Chan and Salma Hayek.

Zhao previously made history at the Oscars in 2021 with her movie Nomadland as she became the first woman of colour to win best director.

The drama also picked up the coveted best picture award and best actress for star Frances McDormand.

Reflecting on working with another acclaimed actress with McDormand, Zhao added: “Like what I was talking about in terms of working with Angie, Fran is so brave.

(Radio Times)
(Radio Times)

“These actresses defy some of the Hollywood constraint that’s been put on them.

“They just let the camera in, they’re not hiding anything, and that’s the strongest thing they can do.”

Read the full interview in Radio Times, out now.

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