Eternals' Lia McHugh Shares Experience Learning ASL With Help From Lauren Ridloff On Marvel Set

While there still work to be done in regard to representation in film and television, there are strides being made within Hollywood to boost the visibility of marginalized groups. Marvel Studios’ Eternals is a prime example of diverse casting, as the superhero flick showcased a cast that varied in age, race, and in other areas. It also introduced the MCU’s first deaf hero in Lauren Ridloff’s Makkari, the cheeky speedster. From what’s been said, the actress was very instrumental when it came to solving on-set challenges that many deaf performers face. And it also seems that she even helped co-star Lia McHugh when it came to ASL.

Lia McHugh (who plays the eternally youthful-looking Sprite) had to learn a few things in preparation for the film, including multiple languages – some of which didn’t even make it into the final film. But as she explained CinemaBlend’s Law Sharma, she had a particular desire to learn American Sign Language while making the Marvel movie. She then went on to explain how she went about doing so and revealed how her co-star and more assisted her:

I took a whole course on ASL during shooting and I also worked on it a lot with Lauren just for fun in between takes. I was really interested in getting to talk to her and understand her language. And also, her kids are deaf, and so is her husband, and they would come to set and I would try to have conversations with them as well. Her kids are funny because they’re young, and so they can’t write and they can’t spell yet because they’re young. But they can talk really fast, like higher, like more than a kid their age would be able to. So like, I know the alphabet, so I’ll try to spell things and they don’t understand it.

It would seem that the family had quite an impact on the actress, and it’s certainly great that she was able to spend such sweet time with them in that manner. Of course, Lia McHugh’s schooling on ASL didn’t stop when she finished her work on Eternals. She further revealed that she’s heading into the next phase of the curriculum. It would seem that it’s also permeated her life in some other sweet ways:

I’m taking my second course currently. I enjoy it, it’s really fun, and it’s actually like a fun thing to do. My sister learned a little bit, too. And it’s our little secret conversation thing across the dinner table. It’s not as hard as you think it would be to pick it up, and it’s actually fun. I found myself… during shooting, I would talk so much with Lauren that I found myself signing just as I was speaking like randomly.

To say that Lauren Ridloff has made a serious impression would be an understatement. According to reports, general interest in learning ASL has increased due to her involvement in the film and her efforts to encourage fans to pick up the skill. One really can’t underestimate the impact of having a deaf character in a major studio film such as this. Such a milestone can generate invaluable knowledge and empathy within the public. Also, as Ridloff has so eloquently stated, it allows a group of people to see themselves represented on screen in a meaningful way.

You have to love the way Lauren Ridloff is making waves both in front of and behind the camera. I can honestly say that her work has me eager to see her partake in more incredible super speed sequences on screen and to learn ASL for myself.

Eternals is currently available to stream with a Disney+ subscription. Those looking to own the movie on home media, can pick it up on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on Feb. 15.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.