How Angelina Jolie Helped Deaf Marvel Co-Star Lauren Ridloff With Frustrations on Eternals Set

By Pierre Chanliau Posted:
Angelina Jolie, Lauren Ridloff, Eternals Makkari

When actress Lauren Ridloff, who plays Makkari, was on the set of Eternals, she couldn't stop praising veteran actress Angelina Jolie, who plays Thena. Not only was Jolie helpful to the whole crew, but Ridloff too in overcoming certain difficulties on set.

One example that Ridloff gave was when she was "trying to figure out a cue for a specific scene" that she couldn't get due to her deafness. Although it was "a little awkward," Jolie figured out a solution to make the scene work.

A new interview with Ridloff now explains what that creative solution from Jolie ended up being.

Angelina Jolie Being Helpful On Eternals Set

Eternals Marvel Studios

In an interview with The New York Times, Lauren Ridloff was asked if there were any logistical challenges on set due to her deafness.

Ridloff mentioned one challenge was difficulties in being cued. She shared her frustration with her co-star Angelina Jolie after a day of shooting.

Jolie actually proposed that they use a laser pen pointer "that special effects can easily erase:"

"In some scenes, I had to face a wall. As a deaf person, how do you cue me? At one point, I was sharing my frustration with Angie — Angelina Jolie — at a holiday party after a day of shooting. And she immediately made a suggestion — why don’t we use a laser pen that special effects can easily erase?

After that suggestion, interpreters on set began to use a laser pen pointer to "make a circle on the wall" to signify when cameras were rolling and that when it disappeared, the scene began:

"It was an 'Aha, wow' moment. Whenever I’m looking at a wall, the interpreters would use a laser pen to make a circle on the wall — 'rolling, rolling, rolling' — and once it went away that meant, 'Action!”

Ridloff was also asked if she felt comfortable asking for anything she needed with her, at first believing that "I had to show how easy I am to work with as a deaf person," but, thankfully, that didn't happen:

"I got to set believing that I had to show how easy I am to work with as a deaf person. I was concerned about seeming too fragile. But after working with others, I realized everyone has their own unique set of challenges, and that I need to think about what I need to deliver as an actor, and don’t apologize for it."

Ridloff then touched on what audiences should take away from Eternals, citing how she wants to help deaf children feel represented on screen in a way she wasn't:

"Growing up, I didn’t dream about becoming an actor. I didn’t see myself on the screen. As a little girl, I thought I was one of only a few deaf people walking on this Earth. Now, as an adult, I’m aware there are at least 466 million deaf people and hard-of-hearing people out there. I’m not the only one. And that’s what it means to have a deaf superhero — a lot more people will see a lot more possibility."

This Is Why Representation Matters

What's great about this is that this technique can now be applied to future productions that involve deaf actors. Obviously, interpreters and the crew on set were not adequately prepared due to a lack of experience with deaf actors, but this method can now be used again, thanks to Angelina Jolie's suggestion.

It seemed like Jolie was nothing but a positive force on set, especially when helping out Ridloff. So, it'll be great also to see this important representation on screen and how the film will utilize Makkari and her deafness.

It's already known that one advantage of Makkari being deaf is that she is immune to her own sonic booms "that [accompany] her cosmic running." 

Fans will get to see her character in action when Eternals releases in theaters on November 5, 2021.

- About The Author: Pierre Chanliau
Pierre Chanliau began as a news & feature writer for The Direct at the site's launch in 2020. As a longtime reader of superhero comic books, Pierre's knowledge of Marvel and DC is extensive, informing his reporting and editorial pieces regarding the MCU and DCU.