‘Eternals’ screenwriters on seeing stars in their cast

Marvel Studios

Marvel Studios’ Eternals is the number-one movie at the box office for the second week in a row. The cast includes Oscar winner Angelina Jolie, plus Salma HayekKumail Nanjiani, Richard Madden and more, all playing a race of immortal heroes. 

Kaz and Ryan Firpo, the two relative newcomer cousins who wrote the first draft of the script, tell ABC Audio they could have only dreamed of getting that cast when they were writing it.

“It’s always been an important part of my writing process to just picture the actor, because that just really helps me capture the voice,” Ryan Firpo says. “And sometimes, you know, it’s a real actor that you get cast and sometimes it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m picturing Gene Hackman from the French Connection,’ you know? So we have to figure out somebody who’s like that. [Because] up to this point…I can’t get the script to them.”

“The really amazing thing with Marvel is that we could have these ideas, and then they could execute them,” says Ryan.

Kaz adds, “Kumail was somebody that from the beginning we were just begging Marvel, ‘It’s nobody else, it’s got to be him.’ The matriarch, Ajak…we wrote that role for Salma. Thena is really for Angelina.”

Conversely, Patrick Burliegh, who worked on the Firpos’ screenplay with Oscar-winning director Chloe Zhao, knew the cast was in place when he got to work on it. He comments, “When she came on board, we had written a lot of dialog for Thena and she was like, ‘No…Thena…is a woman of few words.'”

“So we…cut most of Angelina’s dialog. But what’s amazing is that she was 100% right.” 

Marvel Studios is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC News.


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