ETERNALS Interview: Lia McHugh Talks Sprite's Role In The Final Battle, Comic-Con 2019, And More (Exclusive)

In this spoiler-filled interview, Sprite actress Lia McHugh talks to us about working with the movie's star-studded cast, deleted scenes, becoming an action figure, her role in the final battle, and more!

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Eternals is a movie that featured a lot of great characters and actors, but one who made the largest impact in a lot of ways is Lia McHugh's Sprite. The relative newcomer stole the show as the Eternal who had spent thousands of years stuck in the body of a child, driving home the sort of emotional trauma that would have on an ancient being constantly perceived as being a little girl. 

With the movie now available on Disney+ and Digital platforms, we recently caught up with Lia for a spoiler-filled chat ahead of Eternals' debut on Blu-ray next month. 

As well as talking about shooting a scene with Harry Styles, the actress reveals how Sprite's feelings for Ikaris throughout the film, and breaks down all those huge moments in the movie's final battle. She even weighs in on the hero's fateful decision to become a human and lose her immortality. 

Lia also discusses what could come next for the character, including possibly returning for Eternals 2 or alongside Kit Harington's Black Knight in Blade. Finally, we also hear from Lia on being the youngest cast member, karaoke, Comic-Con, and being an action figure. You can hear all this and more in our exclusive chat, so be sure to watch our interview with the Sprite actress below!

Eternals is now available on Digital and will be available on 4K, Blu-ray and DVD February 15. 

Before we get into spoilers, I wanted to talk about one of your early scenes in the film in the bar when Sprite is portraying herself as an adult and talking to a guy before he sees through her illusion and she makes a quick exit. What sort of psychological effect do you think little moments like that have had on Sprite over the years that bring her to where we find her in this film?

I think those little moments were very important in understanding the character in the film and just how much that affects her decisions in the future and throughout the movie. Those little things happening to her throughout her life wear her down more and more and it’s just really devastating. I can’t think of a better word for it.

You put Instagram post up a little while ago with you, Richard Madden,  and Harry Styles that sent the internet into a bit of a frenzy - 

[Laughs] Yes!

- especially as Harry’s fans were wondering where this other scene with him was. What can you say about this scene and what it was like to work with him?

It actually worked out really well for me. I didn’t end up having a scene with him at all, but in the first version of the script, we filmed a different ending and it was sort of parallel to the first scene in the movie. We shot it on the same day basically and were kind of switching out actors and stuff as it was all the same camera shots, so it was easier to just do it all in one day. We were all on the same sound stage, all ten of us and Harry, and we were going back and forth switching out our characters. Oh my gosh, I was such a fangirl. I was freaking out. I couldn’t tell anyone for the longest time; I wanted to tell all my friends. He actually invited us to a private concert in London and that was the coolest experience ever. He’s really such a sweetheart. It was really fun to get to know him.

Talking of deleted scenes, I noticed in the first teaser that there’s a scene with what seems to be a drunk Sprite singing karaoke on Kingo’s plane - what was that like to shoot and what did it consist of?

[Laughs] I did have to sing karaoke for that. That was the funniest day ever because I had to…I don’t think I’m a great singer, but I had to sing in front of Angelina Jolie. Barry [Keoghan] and Kumail [Nanjiani] were there. It was super embarrassing. I remember I did a take [Laugh] and Chloé [Zhao] came up to me was like, ‘Wait, are you trying to sing badly?’ I wasn’t trying to sing bad, but said, ‘Yeah. Yeah, I was. Let me do it again.’ It was so embarrassing and everyone was just dying. Afterwards, I realised it was just the most embarrassing moment of my life.

A big part of Sprite’s story in this film is this unrequited love she has for Ikaris and that really informs what she does later on. How closely did you with Chloé and Richard to make sure that when the moment does come and we learn about her feelings for him, it really worked for your character?

We actually did a lot of work. In the process of getting the role, I had to do a whole day of doing scenes with him. Chloé was really watching and it came easily for me because I love Richard Madden. He’s the sweetest and cutest and I’ve loved him since he did Cinderella. We just worked on the deep, meaningful love and the fact it can never happen almost is something that’s settled within Sprite and she knows it. I think that makes it even more devastating, so if you watch the movie closely, you’ll notice little looks here and there and little emotions. When he gets married, she doesn’t look very happy. There were some other things we shot that were cut too that, honestly, helped us understand the characters and the connection they had with each other. Those weren’t absolutely necessary to show because we presented it really well. 

The conflict that leads to at the end of the film between Sprite and Sersi is really interesting and Sprite gets to show off her powers in a big way; what was that like for you to shoot and Barry’s character, Druig, taking you out with what I think it’s fair to say was a cheap shot?

[Laughs] Yes! Such a cheap shot. Oh my goodness. No, that scene actually makes me laugh every time I see it. Every time he hits me with a stone, I just laugh. It was just so funny to me. I think a lot of Sprite’s motivation there that really helped me…Sprite is her sister, right? You would never do that to her sister, but I think her mentality is ‘We’re about to get our memories wiped. I’m not going to remember this.’ She’s almost desperate to have her memories wiped. She’s desperate to not remember. She doesn’t want to remember the pain and heartbreak she feels for Ikaris that she’s so desperate to have memory wiped. She would honestly do anything out of the desperation that she has and it’s a huge moment for her. She betrays her family because of all the pain she’s been through. It’s not really personal and is a lot about Sprite, but that was really one of my favourite scenes to shoot. I felt that emotion so much and it was shot towards the end of the movie, so it was a big build up for me as my character throughout. It was a really good scene. 

I can imagine and it must have been really fascinating at well because Sprite is turning her back on humanity because the planet will be destroyed, but she’s not a bad person or the villain of the story. It must have been great to explore that and her dynamic with Ikaris?

She loved humanity. She actually wanted to be human and that’s why she resents them so much. She wanted what she couldn’t have. She wanted to have a family and be the way Sersi is. She wanted to have a relationship and live a life Sprite never could. There’s a lot of jealousy there too. 

Of course, she is a human now. We know she’s lost her immortality and potentially powers too, and while that is a bit of a mystery, but what’s it like to think that when she comes back, she will be totally different?

I am so excited for the possibilities of what would happen if they bring her back. I have no idea. I think about it a lot actually. Will she be a teenager? Will she be an adult? A rebellious teen who’s terrible and going crazy? I don’t know, but it’s interesting to think about [Laughs].

Having got to know the character, what do you think will be a bigger priority for her: trying to find her fellow Eternals or finally getting to live the human life she spent thousands of years obviously wanting with Ikaris?

I’m not sure. I’m not sure if she does have powers or doesn’t have them, so I’m not sure what she could do to help. I would think she would want to help her family. I feel like especially because she owes them one!

It was interesting that she was left behind when Arishem comes and takes the other Eternals. That could be because she’s human now, but again, lots to explore there that would be exciting for Sprite, right?

Yes. It’s very exciting! I can’t wait to read the scripts if and when it happens. It’s probably not going to be for a while, but I’m ready for it.

I know something a lot of people are saying is after the post-credits scene with Dane Whitman where we hear Blade’s voice, that’s somewhere we could see Sprite joining Dane on his transformation into Black Knight. Lots to think of for you again?

I love Kit Harington, so that would be a blast! [Laughs]

Of course, you were the youngest actor in this team of Eternals, but you’re playing a character who is the same age as the rest of the team and just as wise. What was that dynamic like with the cast on set? 

Chloé did a very good job of treating us as equals because the ten Eternals were a group and all equals. I think that was really important to the shooting. I felt really on the same level as everyone besides the fact I got to go home earlier than everyone most of the time [Laughs] because I’m a kid and have to work fewer hours. They were all saying, ‘Oh, I want to stand next to Lia so I can get my shots done first with her because she has to go home.’ That was fun.

You were quite a bit younger when you shot the movie, but what was it like to be in a film like this with such a diverse cast and a strong female cast? 

I experienced so much shooting that movie. From the cultural experience of going to different countries and getting to know all these different people from all these different places. With their stories and backgrounds, it gives you a bigger scope of the world. It was really special to get to work with some of those actors. I learned more than I have ever on that set, let me tell you. They’re all so fricking talented too. It was really intimidating for me, but also a really special learning experience from every single one of them. 

The visuals in this movie are just insane both in terms of the practical locations and visual effects, and Sprite gets to be part of that amazing sequence with the volcanoes. Was there anything you were just blown away by when you saw the finished movie on screen?

I’ve got to say the Deviants. It was very weird on set when you’re fighting a guy dressed in a grey suit or absolutely nothing. I think the Celestial emerging too was like, ‘Whoa!’ Oh, and the fire falling from the sky. I thought that was super fun to watch because we were just on a beach. We didn’t see any of that. It’s all fake dodging and I thought that was pretty cool to watch.

It feels like a lifetime ago that you all came out on stage at Comic-Con in 2019, but looking back, what was that experience like as you look back after being through this MCU journey?

Oh my gosh, it makes me want to cry. It was such a sweet moment for me to go. I was thirteen years old. They don’t really tell you anything. It’s funny. You just get a call saying, ‘You’re going to Comic-Con. Show up at this address at this time’ and we did. We got on a private jet and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh.’ I thought it was just going to be me and the Eternals, but Chris Hemsworth showed up. Tom Hiddleston showed up. Natalie Portman was there…Angelina Jolie…can you think with your thirteen-year-old mind to wrap your head around that? It’s just so ridiculous. It’s funny to think I’ve almost gotten used to it in a way. I just remember back to my reaction. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t do anything. I’ve honestly lost some of my memory from it because I was freaking out so much [Laughs]. It was really a case of putting one foot in front of the other and getting through the day because it was just so insane it didn’t even feel real.

I know you’ve had some great roles outside Eternals, but this is a huge film and you’ve got your own Funko Pop, you’re part of LEGO sets, you’ve got action figures…how does it feel, at this point in your career, to be surrounded by all this merchandise?

It’s weird! It’s strange to go into Target and see yourself. My mom is utterly crazy. She’s bought two of every single thing my face is on. I’m like, ‘Mom, there’s too much stuff. We don’t need all of this’ and she says, ‘No, we have to buy everything! Your face is on that, Lia. We need two of them and we’ve got to keep them.’ It’s really funny. We went to McDonald’s and asked for thirty Happy Meal toys. Without the food, just the toys in the box, because she wanted to have a bunch. It’s ridiculous [Laughs].

Amazing. Well, Lia, you were awesome in the film and it’s been such a pleasure to speak to you. I’m very excited to hopefully see Sprite again soon and where her story goes.

Me too! [Laughs] Thank you so much, it was nice talking to you. 

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