Eternals' Barry Keoghan hails Marvel movie's diversity, in his own accent

The Irish actor, who plays Druig, hopes his role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe movie will inspire young people in his native Dublin.

Sean Keane Former Senior Writer
Sean knows far too much about Marvel, DC and Star Wars, and poured this knowledge into recaps and explainers on CNET. He also worked on breaking news, with a passion for tech, video game and culture.
Expertise Culture, Video Games, Breaking News
Sean Keane
4 min read
Eternals Druig

As Druig, Barry Keoghan brings low-key power to Eternals.

Marvel Studios

Immortal superteam the Eternals made its Marvel Cinematic Universe debut on Friday, as Oscar-winning director Chloé Zhao's movie hit theaters following a yearlong pandemic delay. The film -- which has a pretty complicated conclusion and killer post-credits scenes -- introduces a new group of heroes, including pacifist Druig, played with quiet intensity by Irish actor Barry Keoghan.

Eternals is Keoghan's first superhero role, though he will show up in The Batman next year, having previously appeared in Christopher Nolan's DunkirkHBO's Chernobyl, and The Green Knight. Eternals sees him work alongside an impressive cast, including Angelina JolieKit HaringtonGemma ChanKumail Nanjiani and Salma Hayek. His character might be part of the team, but Druig is a loner at heart and withdraws from his fellow Eternals after they disagree over his desire to end human conflicts with his mind control powers.

As a fellow Irishman, I jumped at the chance to chat with Keoghan over Zoom about working with Zhao, using his own accent for Druig, and his hope that this Marvel movie can inspire young people all over the world. Here's a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for clarity. 

Eternals cast and director at London screening

Richard Madden, Kit Harington, Chloé Zhao, Kumail Nanjiani and Keoghan bring plenty of style to a London screening.

Stillmoving.net via Disney

Q. You were looking real sharp at the London screening on Wednesday. Was it fun to see everyone again?
Keoghan: Thank you. It was a nice suit: Gucci. It was really fun at the London screening. I was told people were camping out, there was such a buzz around it. And it was so nice to see everyone together again.

You shot Eternals in 2019, does that feel like a long time ago at this point?
Yeah, this was supposed to come out last November. I couldn't wait for Ireland to see this Irish superhero, and then they had to push the Marvel movie slate back -- for the right reasons. But yeah, we'll finally get to see it, so happy days.

New Movies Coming in 2023 From Marvel, Netflix, DC and More

See all photos

What do you think of the movie Chloé Zhao created?
She should be really proud. Hats off to her. It was a lot of pressure for me to go in and be a part of it [after] Avengers: Endgame. ... Chloé must have felt that as well, given how massive the fanbase is. To come in and introduce these new superheroes, there's a lot of expectation. But she nailed it. She brought everything to it.

The Eternals go all over the world in this movie. What location did you most enjoy shooting in?
The Amazon set was really nice and relaxed. I got to do my own stunts, and that was probably my favorite. That was week one, two and three.

I was the last one cast, so I was an outsider from the start, like Druig. Diving into the scene where Druig was alone felt right. Maybe Chloé did that on purpose, now that I think about it. He has a nice swagger when he opens the door and steps out, right? That was the first day of filming.

Druig is quite different from the version in the comics. Did you explore the comics as you prepared?
No, I didn't. You don't have to, unless you're given certain instructions to follow the comic. I wanted to -- and I think Chloé wanted to -- bring as much of me to the part, and the same for everyone else.

Eternals Druig comic cover

Druig has a long history of villainy in the comics.

Marvel Comics

You look at The Rider and Nomadland, Chloé works with real people. Honesty is the one thing we chase as an actor, portraying honesty. She wanted to get that in there, while paying some homage to the comic and keeping it to the book to an extent, but she wanted it to be as real as possible. So she allowed me to use my Irish accent and allowed me to kind of be me.

I did notice you kept a certain amount of your natural voice, and your cast mates kept some of theirs. What was the thinking behind that?
I needed to neutralize my accent for clarity, but I think the purpose of using my own accent was to make it real. Having an accent in your head can hold you back from the performance. Keeping your own accent makes everything comfy. It's good to hear an Irish accent up there, right?

It definitely is.
For kids at home, especially from the inner city, there aren't a lot of opportunities where I'm from [Keoghan grew up in Summerhill, Dublin]. To see a lad from a working-class area on screen -- it'll give kids that chance, not only in acting but in other things to go, "He's up there doing a superhero movie, maybe I could do this, maybe I could do that." So I hope that comes across. 

That's a credit to Marvel and Chloé, for making this such a diverse movie and making everyone from every corner of the world feel a part of this movie, like they belong there as well. It's their story. I'm really, really proud of this movie.

Eternals group shot

The Eternals gather for their first Marvel Cinematic Universe adventure.

Marvel Studios

The diversity was really striking because there was huge on-screen chemistry -- I got the sense that you and your cast mates were pretty tight. Why do you think that group worked so well together?
I'm a massive fan of everyone I've worked with. It just felt good. I felt like Chloé, [casting director] Sarah Finn and [Marvel Studios boss] Kevin Feige brought a bunch of us together, the casting was spot on. I got on great with everyone and had such a laugh.

Getting to see them at the screening was like being back at school -- you come back from the midterm and you're like, "Oh yeah, what did you do, what did you get up to?"

Watch this: What's new to stream for October 2021