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Richard Madden Did Not Exactly Have Fun Filming His Flying Scenes In Eternals

In a reality far more awesome than this one, an actor being hired to be the lead in a superhero movie would see them get the actual powers of their character and create all the necessary effects naturally… but that’s sadly not the way things work in our universe. If a blockbuster has a protagonist who can fly, that means not just using computer-generated visual effects, but also stringing performers up in uncomfortable wire work. It’s not a part of the industry that you generally hear too many positive things about, and one individual very much not bucking the trend is Eternals star Richard Madden.

The new Marvel Cinematic Universe film stars Madden as Ikaris, the only member of the titular team who can fly – and while the ability looks pretty badass on the big screen, actually filming it evidently had the effect of reducing the actor’s confidence to zero. I had the chance to ask him about his experience last month during the virtual press day for Eternals (as captured in the video above), and he was definitely not shy about sharing his honest feelings. Said the actor,

It's not fun. Thank God Gemma [Chan] was there to tell me when I look stupid... The practicalities of things, of trying on these costumes and being like, 'This is great!' And then you're hanging upside down on a wire going, 'This costume now looks dumb. Go back to the drawing board and rethink this because, um, yeah, I look like I'm wearing blue leggings and nothing else.'

Flying is actually one of two special powers exhibited by Ikaris, as the character also has the ability to fire heat rays from his eyes – but it seems that wasn’t an aspect of the performance that gave Richard Madden as much trouble.

Clearly the new Marvel star felt self-conscious about how he was appearing whenever he took to the sky, but he did try and combat it with some practice. Answering a follow-up, he added that he would work on his posture and positioning regularly as a means of negating his more negative feelings, saying,

Oh yeah, I was practicing them all the time, up there, 'How do I do this and not look...' Cause my spine's contorted and then try to look elegant and natural like really an easy thing to do. It's a fun challenge, though, trying to make something that look cool.

The good news for Richard Madden is that he was surrounded by a crew full of experts in their craft, and they very much had Madden’s image in mind when depicting him flying as Ikaris. The star may have felt odd when he was actually on set filming the sequences, but it’s rendered beautifully in the finished blockbuster.

Fans will be able to discover this for themselves in just a few short days. Co-starring Gemma Chan, Angelina Jolie, Kumail Nanjiani, Brian Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Lia McHugh, Don Lee, Barry Keoghan, Kit Harington, and Salma Hayek, Eternals will be arriving exclusively in theaters everywhere this Friday, November 5 – and be sure to look out for more from my interviews with the stars and director Chloé Zhao in the coming days here on CinemaBlend.

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.