Werewolf by Night’s Laura Donnelly on joining the MCU and how The Ferryman is the gift that keeps on giving

Her ‘role of a lifetime’ on stage has led to becoming monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone, Marvel’s latest hero

Laura Donnelly’s award-winning performance in Jez Butterworth’s The Ferryman, a play that took the West End and Broadway by storm, is “the gift that keeps on giving”, she says. It landed her the lead in last year’s blockbuster US TV show the Nevers, and it has now paved the way for her to join one of the biggest franchises in popular entertainment: the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Donnelly is starring in Werewolf by Night opposite opposite Gael Garcia Bernal, a real left turn for Marvel. It is a Halloween special in black and white, and is a loving tribute to the classic Universal monster movies of the 1930s.

It’s all thanks to the show’s casting director Sarah Finn, who caught Donnelly’s performance on Broadway in 2019. “When theatre is good it can have such a profound impact. Three years after seeing me in The Ferryman, Sarah was thinking of me for the role,” the Northern Irish actress says. “A lot of people will remember you more from a theatre production than any film or TV show. You stay in people’s mind longer.”

When it came to Werewolf by Night, she quickly bonded with director Michael Giacchino over their shared love of those old monster movies. “I grew up with those,” Donnelly says. “My elder sister was a goth, and watched them every day. Dracula mainly and Frankenstein. She was really into Hammer Horror as well.”

She plays Elsa Bloodstone, who first appeared in Marvel comics two decades ago, an all-action, no-nonsense heroine, as handy with a wisecrack as with a sword. After Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige recently said this world of monsters “will ultimately become quite important to the future of the MCU”, the expectation is that at some point soon she will step out of this standalone story and rub shoulders with the franchise’s current superheroes.