The Odd Way Salma Hayek Wound Up Straining Her Neck In The Making Of Eternals

In the design of superhero costumes, there are two qualities that are more important than anything else: they have to look awesome, and the actor wearing them has to be comfortable. Where this becomes tricky, of course, is when designs start to get more and more elaborate. Sometimes a bit of a sacrifice has to be offered by a performer in the name of their art, and Salma Hayek had such an experience in the making of Chloé Zhao’s Eternals, as she wound up walking away from set during some sequences with a literal pain in the neck.

The new Marvel blockbuster features Salma Hayek’s Ajak as the leader of the titular team, and part of her responsibility is communicating with Arishem, the Celestial who first brought them to Earth 7,000 years ago. There are sequences in the movie when the character is face-to-face with the god-like being, who is miles tall, and in the filming of those scenes the actor found herself in a fair amount of pain due to the combination of the additional weight on her head from the costuming, and continually craning her neck.

As featured in the video at the top of this article, I had the chance to interview Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie during the virtual press day for Eternals late last month, and it was while talking about the scenes with Arishem that she explained the special stress they provided:

Well, it was heavy on the head, because I had extensions and a headpiece. And every time it was like a neck situation. This sounds silly, but, you know, after many takes, 'oh my God.' All the extensions and the thing' got tiresome, but I took it very seriously. I would really try to... and I loved it.

Anyone who has ever experienced a neck strain can attest that it is quite terrible (you never think about how much your neck moves with the rest of your body until every shift you make sends a lightning bolt of pain through your brain). And looking at Ajak’s costume, one can instantly understand why it caused a bit of trouble.

Salma Hayek as Ajak in Eternals

(Image credit: Marvel Studios)

The good news is that Salma Hayek’s scenes with Arishem in Eternals really are beautiful – and she even got a nice little extra support in the work from her co-star. Following up on Hayek’s comments, Angelina Jolie gave her friend a special complement, saying,

Knowing her, I can say this: it makes sense. If I was to send anybody I know to kind of help me connect to whatever else is going on in the world or whatever it is, it is Salma.

If you wish to witness the majesty of Ajak’s beautiful conversations with Arishem, Eternals is now playing in theaters everyone around the world. To keep up to date with everything that is going on with the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the next few years, check out our Upcoming Marvel Movies and Upcoming Marvel TV guides.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.