Salma Hayek Was 'Shocked' to Book Eternals Role Because of Her Age: 'I Felt a Sense of Gratitude'

Salma Hayek stars as Ajak in Eternals, the new Marvel film premiering Nov. 5

Salma Hayek
Photo: Cary Penny/Getty

Salma Hayek is gearing up to star in Marvel's latest superhero movie, Eternals, but she admitted she didn't originally envision herself in the role.

Hayek, 55, who features on the cover of the most recent issue of AARP Magazine, told the outlet she was surprised to book the part of Ajak, described by AARP as "the leader of a group of immortal superbeings" — in the upcoming Chloé Zhao (Nomadland)-directed film.

"I was shocked to get that role in my 50s," Hayek said. "I felt a sense of gratitude and excitement, not only for this but for what it meant about the possibilities for the future."

Oscar winner Zhao told AARP that Hayek is a great fit for the role of Ajak, whom she described as "the leader," adding, "She is full of wisdom and very perceptive — a mother figure to all the Eternals."

Salma Hayek AARP
AARP The Magazine

While Marvel fans will have to wait until Nov. 5 to see Hayek bring Ajak to life on the big screen, the actress spilled a few details about her character to Total Film Magazine, via ScreenRant.

"Chloé decided to tackle the concept of leadership from the perspective of motherhood," she said, adding, "I'm not a mother. I'm an alien. I can't have kids.

"However, my character used to be a man in the comics, now it's a woman," Hayek said. "So instead of just changing the gender, I proposed to [Zhao] to really bring something that is very specific to womanhood."

Hayek, who celebrated her 55th birthday earlier this month, opened up to AARP about her perspective on aging, telling the magazine, "Growing old, to me, has to do with repetition."

"Something gets old when you've done it for a long time," she said, before adding, "If you're always changing, if you're always curious, how can you be old? You're someone new today."

Hayek marked her birthday this year with a tropical getaway, where she posted a photo of herself on Instagram with the caption, "Happy 55th birthday to me 💃🏻 looking forward to new adventures #grateful." Hayek also had some help celebrating this year from her Eternals co-star Angelina Jolie.

The Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard star previously opened up about aging in Hollywood during a conversation on Jada Pinkett Smith's series Red Table Talk.

"There's no expiration dates for women. That has to go," she said during a June episode of the talk show. "Because you can kick ass at any age. You can hold your own at any age, you can dream at any age, you can be romantic at [any] age."

Hayek continued, "We have the right to be loved for who we are at the place that we are. We're not just here to make babies, we're not just here to baby the man. We're not just here to service everything and everyone around us and then when the kids go away … it's almost like expiration date for you as a woman. It's a misunderstanding that has been going around for centuries."

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