“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 Angelina Jolie. And she immediately made a suggestion: why don’t we use a laser pen that special effects can easily erase?”— Eternals News (@Eternalsnews) September 15, 2021
— Lauren Ridloff on #Eternals. pic.twitter.com/Rcklz0klPe
- Lauren Ridloff discusses her first feature film role, and how she had to show filmmakers how to work with deafness.
- Ridloff, who has been deaf since birth, plays Makkari, the first deaf superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in this years “Eternals”. Makkari, like the other Eternals, was created by the Celestials, God-like beings. She possesses the abilities of superspeed, superstrength and superhuman stamina.
- In the comics, Ridloff’s character is a hulking, hearing white man. She’s not exactly sure what made the “Eternals” casting director Sarah Finn look at her and say, “Yes, Makkari!” but she’s of course glad it happened.
- “It means my two boys, who are also deaf, will grow up in a world where there are superheroes who are deaf,” said Ridloff, whose children are 7 and 9. “It means they’ll be able to dream a bit more wildly.”
- (OP will add a side-note that Clint Barton (Hawkeye) is canonically deaf in the comic books, but obviously Joss Whedon and Marvel weren't much concerned about representation back in 2012)
- In a video call in August 2021 from her home in Atlanta, conducted with the assistance of an American Sign Language interpreter, Ridloff discussed how she got the role without auditioning, how venting to Jolie at a holiday party led to a solution for an irritating obstacle to deaf actors on set, and how Hollywood can be more inclusive for deaf individuals, both onscreen and behind the scenes.
- "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? 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!”"
- "Hollywood is finally figuring out why it’s so important to have representation, and now it’s more about how. That’s the part that’s more tricky. We need to have deaf writers and creative talent involved in the process of planning film projects from the beginning. When you have deaf experts within and on the stage, from the crew to makeup artists, it feels like that naturally leads to more authentic representation onscreen."
- The full interview can be found here & Eternals is out 5 November 2021.
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