Don Lee Debuts in the US as Gilgamesh in Marvel’s ‘Eternals’

Don Lee (known in Korea as Ma Dong Seok) makes his Hollywood debut in this year’s biggest blockbuster, Marvel’s Eternals which premieres on November 5th, 2021.  One of the most popular actors in Korea, Don Lee is the first Korean actor to be in a major role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). He is the second Korean actor to appear in a Marvel film after Claudia Kim in Avengers: Age of Ultron.  

Don Lee plays Gilgamesh in Eternals.  Gilgamesh is one of the ‘Eternals’, a super-power alien race who were created by the Celestials, the powerful ancient cosmic beings, to come to the Earth around 7,000 years ago to protect the human race from the Deviants, powerful evil beings. 

Don Lee

The Eternals’ sole purpose being on Earth is to keep humans safe from the Deviants’ attack and forbidden to do anything else.  Therefore, they have been scattered all over the world and living in hiding for thousands of years since the Deviants’ attacks have been scarce. 

Gilgamesh is one of the most powerful Eternals.  His fist withholds so much power that he can crush anything with his ferocious fist.  However, Gilgamesh’s greatest strength lies in his kind heart.  He will do anything to protect his teams and humans. 

These characteristics are what make Don Lee perfect for the role.  He is known to be physically very strong with a tender heart and his nickname in Korea is Ma-vely which is a combination of his first Korean name syllable, ‘Ma’ with lovely.

Don Lee is one of the most successful and beloved actors in Korea. He got his break from his role in ‘Train to Busan.’  He portrays a husband who will do everything to protect his pregnant wife from zombies or any harm.  Don Lee’s badass action plus dedication to his pregnant wife in ‘Train to Busan’ made him an overnight success.

Don Lee’s other hit movie is The Outlaws.  This movie is based on a real crime story about Chinese- Korean gangs in Korea in the 2000s.  He plays a tough cop who tries to take down a ruthless Chinese-Korean mafia organization in Garibong-Dong (Chinatown in Seoul).  This movie is action-packed and you will feel so exhilarated throughout the movie.

Don Lee is also becoming well known in Korea for his ability to entertain audiences with his humor, and his comedic prowess is on full display in this film.

Here are 5 fun facts about Eternals and Don Lee’s Gilgamesh role:

  1. Marvel offered the role to Don Lee without an audition.
  2. Chloé Zhao, the Oscar winning director of Eternals, saw all of Don Lee’s movies and told the movie’s action director to emulate Don’s action moves in creating Gilgamesh’s action scenes. Get ready to see Don Lee’s signature K-action moves in Eternals.
  3. When Don Lee met Angelina Jolie for the first time for the movie, she told him that she watched his movies and she was honored to be in the same movie with him!  Wow!!!
  4. BTS Jimin’s song, ‘Friends’ will be featured in the soundtrack of Eternals.
  5. Don Lee speaks fluent English! He has American citizenship and went to college Columbus State Community College before moving back to Korea to pursue an acting career.

Check out this interview with Ma Dong Seok during the premiere of Eternals:

Listen to the BTS Original Song ‘Friends’:

Hanyoo Park is a content creator for Best of Korea. She was born in Seoul, Korea, and currently lives and works in Manhattan. She is mom to a 4th grader and a proud maximalist who loves everything about life.

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