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Kumail Nanjiani Got A Face Full Of Deviant Splatter Multiple Times While Making Eternals

When you’re an actor in a movie battling grotesque aliens, there are generally more than plenty of opportunities to look like a total badass – but when comedy is also in play, another typical feature of the experience is getting… messy. The MPAA doesn’t have the same kinds of rules for alien guts as they do with human viscera, and that’s a fact that filmmakers behind PG-13 blockbusters like to take advantage of by covering hero characters with extraterrestrial goo.

One performer who can speak to that kind of experience personally is Eternals star Kumail Nanjiani, who gets a big face full of Deviant splatter in one of the film’s big action sequences, and I had the wonderful opportunity to ask him about it during the blockbuster’s virtual press day last month.

Without giving too much away to those of you who have not yet had the chance to see the film, the Eternals scene in question is a sequence set in the Amazon that finds the titular team attacked by a group of Deviants (monstrous beings that the Eternals are on Earth to destroy). Kumail Nanjiani, who famously got in terrific shape for his performance as the heroic Kingo, shot the scene as part of his first day on set doing stunts – and while he admits that it was “uncomfortable” to get a big splash of guts in his face, he nonetheless enjoyed the experience because he knew it would make for a great cinematic moment. Said Nanjiani,

That day was challenging for me because that was my first day doing stunts, and it's sort of a big stunt to do, so it was challenging. And then we actually went back and got more. But to me, getting the goopy stuff on the face, we really did that; even though it's uncomfortable, it was really exciting 'cause I knew the scene was going to be so fun in the movie. I knew that if we pull this off, this is going to be an awesome moment.

As you can probably guess watching Eternals, it’s definitely not a CGI effect, and while the production surely used goop that was totally safe to be splashed on people, that didn’t ultimately render it a pleasant experience. Continuing, Kumail Nanjiani said that the stuff got everywhere, but it was worth it for the finished product.

So all that discomfort, all the weird goo in your face and in your eyes – I mean, I had like green stuff in my eyes – all of that doesn't matter because I knew like, 'Oh man, if we do a good job here, this is gonna look great.' And they did a great job.

Of course, what also has to be noted here is that a certain shot or angle is rarely shot only once on any given film production, and that very much includes stunt and splatter scenes in blockbusters. Audiences only see Kingo pull off his killer move once in Eternals, but Kumail Nanjiani ran out of fingers and toes on set counting the number of times his special move was performed, and while each time didn’t see him get a face full of muck, that certainly happened more than once as well:

The stunt, I ended up doing 20-some times. I was counting back then and I think I've blocked it out now, but I think it was 25 or 26 times. When I went home, I had a bruise this big on my thigh. And then the goopy stuff, I think basically we only did that like three times, but once you have the goop on your face you just lay there and you just try a bunch of different things. We tried so many different versions of that because I knew this could be a great moment; let's just get as much as we can.

Kumail Nanjiani is absolutely correct in saying that the final shot came out great in the finished film, and if you haven’t already seen it for yourself, now is the time. Eternals, co-starring Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Brian Tyree Henry, Lia McHugh, Lauren Ridloff, Don Lee, Barry Koeghan and Kit Harrington, is now playing in theaters everywhere. To learn all about what’s coming up from the Marvel Cinematic Universe on both the big and small screens, check out our Upcoming Marvel Movies and Upcoming Marvel TV guides.

Eric Eisenberg

NJ native who calls LA home; lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran; endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.