Sprite Eternals interview

Interview: Eternals Star Lia McHugh Discusses Sprite, Deleted Scenes, and More

After releasing in theaters last year, Marvel’s Eternals is now available on 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD.

Eternals “follows a group of heroes from beyond the stars who had protected the Earth since the dawn of man. When monstrous creatures called the Deviants, long thought lost to history, mysteriously return, the Eternals are forced to reunite in order to defend humanity once again.”

ComingSoon Editor-in-Chief Tyler Treese spoke with Eternals star Lia McHugh about the film, her experience on set, and much more.

Tyler Treese: You did a lot of work in horror before Eternals, what was the biggest surprise for you working on a film with just this scope and magnitude?

Lia McHugh: I mean, it was like going from zero to one hundred. I mean, it goes so fast and it’s honestly like a roller coaster. You know, you’re excited for it, and then you’re really nervous and you get to the top and you drop, but it was just such a crazy experience throughout the entire thing. I didn’t really know how to comprehend a lot of it. Imagine your life just flipping upside down and everything’s changed. It was really crazy.

So one of the elements in the film that I really liked was that your character is shaping a lot of mythology across era and these stories that become world history. How cool was it to know that your character was kind of shaping humanity inside the MCU?

Yeah, there was a really fun line that I enjoyed. I’m pretty sure they kept it in the deleted scene, at the museum. But, I talk about how, you know, pillars of our society, money, the way that the world is aligned, like classes and things like that, is it’s not real. It’s something that I made up and I just thought about that, I thought it was really cool that she came up with all of these structures in our daily life and brought them throughout history. It was cool to think about. She probably wrote all these history books and, everything that, theoretically, that humans study today.

Your character, despite looking young in age, is thousands of years old. I know you’ve talked about relating to that aspect and being an old soul, but what went into playing that type of character?

I think [Chloé Zhao] saw that in me. And I think that was one of the reasons why I got the part, is because she saw that I was a lot like Sprite in that way. A lot of the things that we did in preparation for our characters was really just reading with each other. We got together a bunch of times in her office at Pinewood and we would all just sit around, and we ordered food and we would improv, or we would just talk or we would run scenes. I think a lot of preparation just had to do with getting to know each other and sort of relating ourselves to our characters in a way. Does that answer your question?

So out of all the Eternals, I thought Sprite had the most endearing arc to her character. Especially with becoming a human at the end. Can you speak to that story and how it sort of wraps up, but there are also endless possibilities now that she is human?

Yeah. Before the movie came out, everyone was like, “Well, what happened? Are they gonna recast you or are they going to edit your face to make you look younger if you’re in another movie?” I don’t think people were really expecting me to turn human, but it’s really exciting. It leaves open so many possibilities for me to come back, or to explore what Sprite does on Earth. I mean, we don’t know if she has her powers or not. We don’t know any of these things and I think it’s gonna be cool to explore.

The MCU is so much bigger than just films, it’s a whole merchandising behemoth. How does it feel knowing your face is on so much stuff and kids are buying toys with your likeness on it? I mean, it has to be surreal.

It’s weird. I gotta tell you, it’s weird to walk into Target and to see my face on a Lego set. And it’s funny cause people don’t really recognize, I’ll be standing right next to my toy, and some kid is picking it up and, a couple of times, I’ve actually been like, “That’s me.” And they’re like, “Yeah, right.” And they turn around and walk away. It’s really strange, and all my friends buy it and I’m on their shelf, it’s strange. It’s cool.

In the very first trailer, there’s a scene of Sprite singing karaoke aboard the jet. I don’t think it made it into the film. Can you tell us a little bit about that scene?

Unfortunately, it did not make it into the film. I had to sing karaoke. It was very embarrassing, in front of the whole crew and Angelina Jolie. It was a funny day. I’ve talked about this before, when you’re an actor, you just have to…you can’t be embarrassed sometimes, you just have to let it go and, you know, do this scene and do the embarrassing thing, or cry, or be emotional. And I think that was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, to just stick my heart out in front of all those people. It was crazy.

What an amazing cast, so many talented veteran actresses. Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, and Gemma Chan. Can you speak to just the learning experience it was to be around all those, and if you got any really helpful advice for going forward with your career?

Yeah. I was really grateful that I came into the film. I knew who these people were, but I don’t think I was really super aware of the level of some of these people, you know? I knew Angie from Maleficent and, I just didn’t know them very well. So when I came into it, I wasn’t as starstruck as I probably should have been, which was a good thing. And I was able to just relax and be myself, and I’m really close friends with a lot of these people. And I think they’re all so incredibly talented and, you know, they’ve worked their whole lives and it’s so special to see the way that other actors work.

It’s fun to just watch them watch the way they prepare and how they practice. Angie and her stunts, that was incredible. It was so feminine and beautiful yet, she was like a warrior. And that meant a lot to her to portray that really beautifully. It’s really inspirational to see how hard they work, how hard Salma works. It’s, it’s just crazy to me, it was like a masterclass, basically, those six months shooting with all of these people, it was really special. It’s an experience. I can’t even compress into a sentence, I’ve learned so much. I could talk about it for hours.

I saw a great behind-the-scenes photo of you and Harry Styles. You talked about not being starstruck amongst some of the actors, but what about Harry Styles?

Oh, yeah.

Were you a fan of his music?

Oh, yeah. I’ve been listening to him with my family forever and, I sort of realized this after the fact, but when I was auditioning for the part, there was a day we like broke for lunch during the screen test days. I hadn’t gotten my part yet, and Chloe and [Richard Madden] were talking and they were talking about Harry Styles and I just thought they were having a conversation, and Chloe was like, “Yeah, he’s so hot,” and Richard was like “Oh, he’s not that hot,” it was a funny conversation.

Then during filming, I found out that he was going to be in it, and I was like “What?” I was so confused. I think they’d been planning it all along, they just didn’t really tell us. One day, Chloe was like, “Hey, are you busy Friday night? You wouldn’t want to go to a Harry Styles concert, would you?” I was like “Oh, hell yeah!” And he had us go into his private trailer before, and it was just so crazy and exciting. And I wanted to post all about it and tell all my friends because all of my friends are obsessed with him too. But I couldn’t say anything. It was torturous, but it was really cool. He is such a sweet, nice guy too. I loved getting to know him a little bit.

There you go. I knew you had to get starstruck about somebody

Yeah. Well, I was starstruck about Richard Madden too.

Eternals did really well in theaters, but due to the pandemic, not everybody was able to see it. Now that it’s on Disney+ and the home video release is coming out, how exciting is it to just know everybody can see the film now?

Yeah. after it came out on Disney+, it was like whole other wave, I mean, it’s not about the followers, but all of the sudden my followers were going up and I was like, what’s that about? And my mom was like, “It came out on Disney+.” I was like, oh, I didn’t even realize that a lot of people haven’t seen it yet. But it’s really cool. I think even people who have seen it already, to be able to watch it again and understand it better. I think it’s really exciting to be able to see it at home. I know my family has played it 10 times, I think, since it’s been out in the house. I walk in the room and I’m like “Oh, nice. You’re watching it again.”

You mentioned that your family is just filled with actors. How awesome is it having that support system and that they kind of know what it’s like to be acting and the struggles that can go with that?

Yeah. They’re almost extra proud, in a way, because they understand I was working so hard in auditioning and getting rejected for years and years and, you know, it’s really discouraging. To be able to have the success is crazy, and they all understand it. Some people outside of it just see it as like “Oh, you’re a celebrity, it must be amazing,” and it is, but there’s also a lot of hard work that goes into it. But yeah, my family has been incredibly supportive and proud.

We had this little family and friends screening and my siblings surprised me. They all wrote me the sweetest letters ever, and they read them to me and I just started crying because they were just the sweetest thing. They’re like we’re so proud of you basically, but they’re really supportive and sweet.

That is wonderful. You talked about going through auditions and rejections. I saw that you tried out for Ant-Man. Can you talk a little bit about that experience?

I auditioned for the original Ant-Man. That was my very first audition ever. Isn’t that crazy? Like it’s sort of a full circle. It was super random. I was doing musical theater, and there was a coach in the audience and he was like “I want you to audition for this,” and my mom was like “No, we’re good,” and he was like “No, I can’t tell you what it is. You have to sign this NDA, and then I can tell you,” My mom was really confused and she was like “Okay, fine.” A couple of our friends were like “he legit, do it, trust us, you should do this.” It was for Ant-Man, and we were like, “Oh my gosh, this is a Marvel movie like, whoa.”

I’m pretty sure I got pretty close on it and we were shocked, and all of a sudden agents wanted to represent me. And it was like this crazy start to my career, but it’s sort of what motivated me because to have that exciting thing be possible and then to not have it happen, just one, I was like, I just want to book the next one, I want to keep doing this, because that was so, so exciting for me. But yeah, it’s really full circle that that was my first audition. And then now I’m here. Like it’s crazy.

You have such a promising career ahead of you. Are there any sort of films, maybe genres that you really want to do in the future that you haven’t yet?

I would love to do a really good movie with Leonardo Dicaprio. Because I think he’s just absolutely brilliant, like insane. He’s just so incredible. I would love to do a movie with him, and I think genre-wise, I think it would be fun to do maybe a romantic comedy or a period piece. Because, I love old clothes in fashion, the dresses that girls used to wear. I think being able to wear a corset and a beautiful dress. I don’t know. That’s just exciting for me. And I also think it’s a whole different style of acting, like the way they talked back then and stuff like that. I just think that would be cool to explore and a new thing to try.

So, there we go. We’ll get a romantic period piece with Leonardo Dicaprio.

Perfect. Perfect.


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