Eternals stars Angelina Jolie and Kumail Nanjiani admit that they didn’t know the full ending of the movie until they actually saw it. Eternals, the third film in Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, was directed by Academy Award-winner Chloé Zhao. The film opened in theaters last weekend on November 5, and features Nanjiani and Jolie alongside Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Brian Tyree Henry, Dong-seok Ma, Lia McHugh, Lauren Ridloff, and Barry Keoghan as the group of immortal beings who have guided humanity’s development and defended them against the Deviants since arriving on Earth 7,000 years ago.
Nanjiani plays the self-obsessed Bollywood star Kingo who can shoot energy beams from his hands, and Jolie plays Thena, a skilled warrior struggling with mahd w’yry, a fugue-like affliction that is caused by the weight of so many years of memories on a single brain. With so many characters to juggle, the movie sees fit to split up the characters over the course of the finale and the epilogue. Specifically, Thena faces off against the mutated Deviant Kro (Bill Skarsgård) in an isolated cave before leaving the planet in search of other Eternals to free from the lies of the Celestials, where she winds up encountering Harry Style’s Eros. Kingo conscientiously objected to participating in preventing the emergence and thus isn’t featured in the climactic battle, though he is included among the Earthbound Eternals retrieved by Arishem at the end of the film.
On D23’s podcast Inside Disney, Kumail Nanjiani and Angelina Jolie were asked if they had the chance to look at the full script and know about the ending of the film beforehand. They both admitted that they knew their characters’ endings and the general shape of the story, but there were certainly elements that they were completely in the dark about until actually watching the movie, especially the end-credits sequence. Nanjiani “did not know” that scene was shot at all, and Jolie admits that she didn’t know until right before, and she was trying to “figure out who was there and what happened to everybody else.” Read the full quote below:
Jolie: There was a final script but I don’t know if that’s just secrets or also all the individual character development that everybody was doing as it was going along. So you would be surprised by your fellow actors, or something they added or some choice was made that made something more than you’d expect.
I went into it still not sure what the end was going to be. I knew what happened to me at the end but then I was surprised what happened to some of the other people in the end. I had no idea. I had no idea what happened to the other group in the end until I saw the movie.
Nanjiani: I had no idea how it was going to end. We had a version of the full script it kept evolving because as Angie said characters kept developing.
I did not know that you guys shot that [end-credits scene with Harry Styles] on the ship at the end.
Jolie: And I didn’t didn’t know until about 12 before I shot the ship at the end and I was trying to figure out who was there and what happened to everybody else.
Nanjiani: Well this is what happens. You guys are flying around space on a spaceship with One Direction and the rest of us have been taken captive by the strongest being in the universe.
Jolie: Right. I think I got the better side of that one.
This is an interesting insight into the acting process that an MCU movie requires. The infinite layers of secrecy surrounding the projects affect even the performers, who sometimes don’t even know exactly what scene it is they’re appearing in. This would account for situations like the much-memed moment in early 2020 where Gwyneth Paltrow seemingly forgot she was in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
While it’s funny that both Eternals stars were ultimately unaware of what was going on in the end-credits scene, it makes sense. The fractured ending that sees the characters going their separate ways means they didn’t film those scenes together. Likewise, the end-credits scenes were likely invented by MCU producers completely separately from the script and long after it was finished, to tie in with the projects they thought most viable to connect to the film.