‘The Eternals’ Kumail Nanjiani Talks About the Pressures of Being the First Pakistani Superhero within the MCU

by Jeremy Spirogis
Kumail Nanjiani

Fans can’t wait to see Kumail Nanjiani make his superhero debut in The Eternals when it premieres in February 2021. The actor just lately opened up about illustration in movie and revealed the pressures of being the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first Pakistani superhero. 

Kumail Nanjiani
Kumail Nanjiani | Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

What is Kumail Nanjiani’s position in ‘The Eternals’?

As the second movie of Phase 4, The Eternals will introduce a race of recent superheroes to the MCU. The titular Eternals are a bunch of immortal cosmic beings with numerous superpowers, who’ve been residing undetected on Earth for a few years.  

In the film, Nanjiani is ready to play Kingo, an Eternal with unbeatable sword expertise, who now lives below the guise of a film star. The movie additionally stars Richard Madden as Ikaris, Gemma Chan as Sersi, Angelina Jolie as Thena, Kit Harington as Dane Whitman, Salma Hayek as Ajak, Brian Tyree Henry as Phastos, Lia McHugh as Sprite, Don Lee as Gilgamesh, Barry Keoghan as Druig, and Lauren Ridloff as Makkari.

Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, and Salma Hayek of 'The EternalsRichard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, and Salma Hayek of 'The Eternals
Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Lauren Ridloff, Brian Tyree Henry, and Salma Hayek of ‘The Eternals | Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

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His position comes with a twist

In the Marvel comics, Kingo is a samurai film star based mostly in Japan. But in a chat with the New Hollywood Podcast, Nanjiani famous that his movie model of the character shall be a Bollywood star residing and dealing in Mumbai. 

“By this point, we’ve been on Earth for a long time, and my character, for instance, is like ‘OK we’re supposed to keep a low profile, no one should know,’” joked Nanjiani. “So I become a Bollywood movie star, that’s my secret identity. We’re supposed to keep quiet and I’ve become the biggest Bollywood movie star.”

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I by no means thought I’d be a type of individuals who would post a thirsty shirtless, however I’ve labored approach too onerous for approach too lengthy so right here we’re. You both die a hero, otherwise you reside lengthy sufficient to see your self turn out to be the villain. I discovered a 12 months in the past I used to be going to be in Marvel’s Eternals and determined I wished to remodel how I seemed. I might not have been ready to do that if I didn’t have a full 12 months with one of the best trainers and nutritionists paid for by the most important studio on this planet. I’m glad I appear like this, however I additionally perceive why I by no means did earlier than. It would have been unattainable with out these sources and time. So massive because of @grantrobertsfit who began working with me in the beginning of the 12 months and made me perceive true bodily ache for months and months. Then, as soon as we began taking pictures, an enormous because of @davidhigginslondon and his staff (@ellispartridge, @thebeardypt, @tomcheesemanfitness) for coaching me virtually each day and making me sturdy, limber and harm free. I can virtually contact my toes now. (And thanks for forcing me to do cheat meals David.) Matthews Street Catering for his or her scrumptious and wholesome meals. And lastly, the most important thanks goes to @emilyvgordon for placing up with me complaining and speaking about solely understanding and weight-reduction plan for the final 12 months. I promise I’ll be attention-grabbing once more some day. #thirstyshirtless (Photo by @markupson.) (edit: I left off one crucial particular person: @lancecallahan who skilled me for six years and helped me construct the muse I may use to do that. Thank you!)

A post shared by @ kumailn on Dec 16, 2019 at 8:10am PST

The actor additionally shared one other enjoyable tease in regards to the film. He revealed that The Eternals will characteristic a Bollywood quantity, together with his character dancing within the center. 

“I took months of Bollywood dance classes to prepare for that,” he stated. “It’s really a workout, and you know, there’s like 52 dancers, and 51 of them are professional dancers, and then there’s me!”

Kumail Nanjiani is hoping to interrupt stereotypes

When speaking to Ramy Youssef, Kenan Thompson, Dan Levy, and Ricky Gervais for The Hollywood Reporter,  the Academy and Emmy Award-nominated author and actor opened up in regards to the significance and strain of being the primary Pakistani superhero in Hollywood.  

“It was very significant because it was something that I really, really wanted to do,” he defined. “Now on top of that, there’s this other pressure in that I’m the first, but that stuff is a little harder to negotiate because I can only represent myself — I, one person, cannot represent a whole group of people because all of our experiences and backgrounds are completely different.”

Upon getting the position of Kingo, Nanjiani determined to make his character look sturdy sufficient to tackle a typical Hollywood superhero like Thor or Captain America. He skilled and labored on his physique for months, which he suggests was an essential a part of his illustration. 

“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,” Nanjiani stated.  “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,” he continued. “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.”

The Eternals is scheduled to hit theaters on February 12, 2021.

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