The Eternals Actor Kumail Nanjiani Explains Why He Wants To Bring ‘Joy’ To His Character

Kumail Nanjiani in The Big Sick
(Image credit: (Amazon))

For over a decade, Kumail Nanjiani has been steadily rising in the Hollywood ranks. But, you know the comedian has come a long way from his stand up days, because he’s going to be in a Marvel movie next year. Does it get any bigger than that? Audiences will get to see the Silicon Valley star suit up with Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Brian Tyree Henry and Richard Madden for The Eternals. As Nanjiani recently said, though, he had to put a lot of thought into what the first Pakistani superhero would look like on the big screen. In his words:

I approached him really as the opposite of the opportunities that I had gotten and the opportunities that a lot of other brown men traditionally get in Hollywood. I feel like we're this group where we can be the model minority, so the smart nerds, or the exact opposite, terrorists, depending on what the project is. Those are the two ends of the spectrum that we occupy and very little in between. I've gotten to play a nerd, so I wanted this guy to be cool. I've played weaklings, so I wanted this guy to be strong. Brown men have had to play terrorists, so I wanted this guy to be full of joy. So, really, this character for me was defined by what I didn't want him to be.

Nanjiani was hyper aware of his past roles in movies and television so far and he wanted to challenge stereotypes for his most important role yet. He’s played a “nerd” many times before, especially for HBO’s Silicon Valley and more delicate male characters in other films. He told The Hollywood Reporter, during the Comedy Roundtable, that for The Eternals he wanted Kingo to have a combination of strength and coolness to his character.

This goes back to why Kumail Nanjiani spent a year not only getting into shape, but getting absolutely ripped for the role. He just about broke the internet in December when he revealed his incredible transformation, which had the likes of Chris Evans and The Rock applauding him. Check him out, below:

A photo posted by on

Aside from the physical side of the role, The Lovebirds star also felt Kingo should have a cheerfulness about him to push back against both the nerd and terrorist boxes he and other actors from places such as Pakistan, India and Middle Eastern countries often portray on screen. In his words:

Yeah, I did it for all my people. I'm ripped for Pakistan.

The actor’s role in the movie is an immortal being who has lived since ancient times and currently resides as a Bollywood movie star on Earth. Nanjiani even has a big number with over 50 dancers during the movie. We still don’t know a ton about The Eternals, but Kumail Nanjiani didn’t allow himself to be the “first schlubby superhero,” that’s for sure. The actor worked so hard for his body he has even worked to keep it up during self-quarantine. Ok, that’s seriously impressive.

The Eternals hits theaters on February 12, 2021. Check out everything in store for Marvel coming up with CinemaBlend’s release date calendar for Phases 4 and 5.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.