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Here's Why Phastos From Eternals Looks So Familiar

Marvel's "Eternals" boasts one of the most impressive cast lists to date, which is no small feat considering the ensemble casts of other MCU films like "Avengers: Infinity War." Stars like Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, and Kumail Nanjiani work together as members of an ancient team of superpowered aliens charged with protecting the earth. The movie even includes a long-awaited reunion for "Game of Thrones" fans: finally reuniting Kit Harington and Richard Madden on the big screen. 

The alien superheroes have spent thousands of years watching over Earth, and "Eternals" follows the group through the entire history of the planet and the Marvel Universe itself, as the Eternals' actions shape the world and its civilizations into what they are today. The film has a massive scale and a group of actors who are larger than life, not the least of which is Brian Tyree Henry, who stars as Phastos, one of the more unique members of the Eternals.

Phastos, in addition to being Marvel's first openly gay superhero, functions as the inventor of the group — his powers allow him to create weapons and technology through the use of his mind. So, where have we seen the actor before?

Brian Tyree Henry's breakout role was in Atlanta

Though Henry began his acting career on the stage (most notably starring in the original cast of "The Book of Mormon" back in 2011) his breakthrough role on television came in 2016, when he booked the part as Alfred "Paper Boi" Miles in FX's "Atlanta." Henry's Paper Boi is an up-and-coming rapper managed by his cousin Earn (Donald Glover), and he is an essential (and hilarious) member of the esteemed comedy-drama series' cast of characters. 

Paper Boi starts off in "Atlanta" selling drugs just to pay for recording sessions, but by the time Season 2 rolls around, one of his songs has gone gold, and he's become a minor celebrity. But his success is a double-edged sword: as his fame increases, his connection to those around him dwindles. Paper Boi is alienated from Earn and his other friends, and his perceived wealth (despite still being broke) even leads him to be robbed by a longtime friend early on in Season 2.

Paper Boi is a role that's funny, inspiring, and sad all at once, and Henry's performance in Season 1 of "Atlanta" earned him a well-deserved Emmy nomination. While Paper Boi might still be his most recognizable role, "Atlanta" launched Henry into stardom and landed him dozens of high-profile roles in the following years.

The actor had a small part in Joker

One of the aforementioned high-profile roles is a small part in Todd Phillips' "Joker," and though it's only a minor role, Henry's scene comes at a crucial point in the film's story. "Joker" follows the transformation of Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix) from a depressed loner living in the slums of Gotham City to the clown prince of crime himself. Henry stars as a clerk at Arkham Asylum named Carl, who helps Arthur find some old records on his elderly mother, a former resident of the asylum. 

While Arthur certainly starts "Joker" with some semblance of sanity, as the film goes on he begins to descend more and more into madness. His real breaking point comes in his scene with Carl, during which Arthur discovers that he was violently abused as a child, and that the woman who raised him was never actually his mother, but rather a schizophrenic who adopted him. Overall, Henry's role in "Joker" may be minor, but Carl plays a crucial part in the creation of the Joker himself and is perhaps the first person to see Arthur for what he really is.

Henry acted his heart out in If Beale Street Could Talk

In 2018, Henry had a supporting role in the period drama "If Beale Street Could Talk," as Daniel Carty, a longtime friend of Alonzo "Fonny" Hunt (Stephan James). The movie, which is director Barry Jenkins' follow up to "Moonlight," is an adaptation of the James Baldwin novel of the same name. "If Beale Street Could Talk" follows the efforts of Fonny's lover Clementine "Tish" Rivers (KiKi Layne) as she fights to prove Fonny's innocence for a crime he didn't commit. The film was met with widespread critical acclaim upon release and earned a Best Picture nomination.

Henry's performance in the film is as breathtaking as it is heartbreaking. Daniel is a parolee recently released from a two-year stint in jail, and in one scene while the two friends catch up, he reveals to Fonny that his time in jail still haunts him. "When you're in there, they can do whatever they want," he says. "Some of the things I've seen ... I'll be dreaming about it until the day I die." Daniel is a tragic character that serves as a warning sign of what is to befall Fonny should he be convicted. Daniel lets his guard down around his friends, bearing his scars for all to see, and his obvious terror hangs over the entire film from that point on.

He had a memorable role in Godzilla vs. Kong

More recently, Henry took on a supporting role in 2021's "Godzilla vs. Kong," starring opposite Millie Bobby Brown and Alexander Skarsgård. In direct opposition to his serious performance in "If Beale Street Could Talk," Henry returns to his comedic roots in this film, playing Bernie Hayes, a goofy, excitable whistleblower working for Apex Cybernetics. Bernie is an avid conspiracy theorist who runs his own podcast about the appearance of monsters like Kong and Godzilla, and the role Apex has in the destruction those monsters are causing across the globe. He later teams up with Brown's character Madison and friends to help them infiltrate the secret facility where Apex is building Mechagodzilla. 

Like with Paper Boi, Henry's performance here is more nuanced than the simple comic relief that he appears to be when he's first introduced. We come to learn that Bernie's obsession with conspiracies is fueled by the death of his wife, and he carries a memento of her wherever he goes. This leads the audience to view his eccentricity in a new, sadder light than when we first meet him, and Henry's acting chops are on full display, as per usual. The role of Bernie marks a welcome return to Henry's comedic roots, and he steals the show whenever he's on screen, which is quite the feat considering he's often acting opposite gigantic fighting monsters.