In future film quizzes, the question is likely to arise: which actor portrayed more than one character in the MCU? And we’re not talking due to shape-shifting Skrulls or any other kind of caveat – which actor impressed so much that they were able to return in a completely different role in the defining Hollywood franchise of the 21st century? The answer is Gemma Chan – who first appeared as the blue-skinned Kree warrior Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel, and is about to return to the MCU as Sersi in Chloé Zhao’s epic Eternals.
It’s a testament to the actor, who proved captivating as the lead of Channel 4’s sci-fi drama Humans, brought dramatic heft to Crazy Rich Asians, and recently voiced a Disney villain(ish) in Raya And The Last Dragon. “I feel very lucky to have been welcomed back into the MCU so quickly after my first appearance; the reception has been very warm,” she tells Empire in The British New Wave issue. “I feel fortunate because we had a lot of crossover in the crew between the two films so there was continuity in that sense, but these are completely different projects, in completely different times, the characters are different.”
And by all accounts this is a completely different sort of Marvel film too – with the recent first trailer showing off the distinctive expansive landscapes that was so central to Zhao’s ultra-indie flicks The Rider and Best Picture winner Nomadland. “We shot it like it was an indie film, almost completely on location using natural light, pretty much all at magic hour,” says Chan. “It’s such an epic, ambitious film, with [Zhao] bringing her signature style and sensibility.”
This month’s issue of Empire is a massive celebration of The British New Wave, showcasing 26 incredible directors, writers and actors driving cinema into a new era. As well as cover stars Emerald Fennell, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Bukky Bakray and Riz Ahmed, the issue also features major new interviews and exclusive new photo shoots with stars like Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù, Morfydd Clark, Olly Alexander, Jessica Yu Li Henwick, Henry Golding, Weruche Opia, and Olivia Cooke, and writers and directors including Rose Glass, Rob Savage, Remi Weekes, Kate Herron, Francis Lee, Krysty Wilson-Cairns and Prano Bailey-Bond.