Eternals filming locations you can visit in real life
Marvel Studio’s film sets usually have more to do with special effects than real life destinations but that’s about to change with its newest blockbuster, Eternals, streaming on Disney Plus from January 12th. “Director Chloé Zhao employs a naturalistic style of location-based filmmaking, so she wanted the filming to take place at practical locations, as much as was feasibly possible,” a Marvel Studios spokesperson said.
Eternals centres on a group of eponymously named, other worldly superheroes with a cast led by Gemma Chan (who starred in Crazy Rich Asians and whose parents are from Hong Kong) and including Richard Madden, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kumail Nanjiani and Don Lee (Ma Dong-seok).
The story flits between the past and present covering the group’s back story and visiting each character in their now disparate homes across the world as they live among mortals. Chan’s character, Sersi, travels between the modern day locations attempting to get the gang back together in the face of a resurfacing threat from old enemy, The Deviants.
“We shot mainly on location,” the Oscar winning, Chinese born Zhao confirmed. “The visual experience of this film must feel immersive and interactive enough for audiences to believe that these characters have walked the earth for 7,000 years. It’s not possible to do that on a [sound] stage.”
And so the cast and crew headed to the Canary Islands and England. Zhao needed locations to stand in for both ancient and contemporary settings spanning from Mesopotamia, Babylon and the Gupta Empire to South Dakota, Alaska and the Amazon rainforest and felt she found them in Fuerteventura and Lanzarote in the Canaries and parts of southern England.
“It was great to be able to actually shoot on location rather than shoot on a lot of green screens or blue screens,” said Richard Madden who plays Ikaris, Sersi’s on off boyfriend of several thousand years. “We’ve got these great sequences on black sand beaches and volcanic islands. We shot in the streets of London. We shot in forests and woods. All of that really helps make this movie more grounded in reality than just if we’d purely shot it all in a studio.”
While an early scene shows Gemma Chan in Piccadilly Circus and her character works at the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, a lot of filming took place in north London between Camden High Street and Hampstead Heath.
Chan and Kit Harington (who plays Dane Whitman a Natural History Museum colleague and boyfriend of Sersi) were spotted being filmed on the Parliament Hill area of Hampstead Heath. At one point Chan was seen suspended by a crane and wires, “flying” above the Hill which is known for its view of the City of London.
A night shoot in nearby Camden involved Chan and Harington along with the latter’s former Game of Thrones co star, Madden. Scenes took place on the bridge at Camden Lock, a scruffy yet unfathomably popular tourist haunt, where Ikaris “flies” and Sersi turns a red double decker into poppies; as well as Regent’s Canal and towpath beneath.
Further scenes were shot in the Belsize Park neighbourhood that sits between Camden and Hampstead. Specifically in front of a run of shops and restaurants on Belsize Lane where Chan was filmed with Harington again as well as Kumail Nanjiani (Kingo, an Eternal turned Bollywood star) and Lia McHugh (Sprite, a 7,000 year old in a 12 year old girl’s body).
The English countryside also stood in for other locations. Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, was the setting for Ajak’s (played by Salma Hayek) South Dakota ranch. Swinley Forest in Berkshire, substituted for Alaska while Black Park near Pinewood Studios was the setting for an Aztec pyramid.
In warmer climes, the subtropical, volcanic islands of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura were the settings for ancient Mesopotamia and Babylon as well as the present day Australian outback. Locations included the Cuervo Volcano one of the most accessible to visit volcanos on Lanzarote with an easy guided pathway around its perimeter and even inside the crater. Filming was also thought to have taken place at Charco de los Clicos, a startlingly green lagoon in a volcanic crater alongside a black sand beach, and the red hued Rodeos Mountain inside the Los Volcanes Natural Park with many walking trails.
On Fuerteventura the Penitas Gorge, a popular hiking spot through a ravine, and Buen Paso palm groves feature as well as La Solapa Beach with its distinctive rocky coastline and black sand beach and Corralejo sand dunes. Angelina Jolie was photographed with her children and Lia McHugh visiting Corralejo’s well known kite flying festival that takes places every November.
Eternals producer, Nate Moore, said, “To shoot in those locations, in those environments with real desert, with real ocean, with real volcanoes was something we don’t always get to do, and I think the film will feel richer for it.”