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3 Jul

Kumail Nanjiani talks about pressures of playing a Pakistani superhero in Marvel film


Pakistani-American comedian, writer and actor Kumail Nanjiani has made a name for himself in Hollywood so much so that the actor has signed for an upcoming Marvel project, The Eternals. The film featuring Angelina Jolie, Kit Harington, Gemma Chan and others stars Kumail as a Pakistani superhero.

The actor recently appeared in a comedian’s round table with The Hollywood Reporter where he shared why he took the role and how he plans to represent his community in Hollywood.

“It was significant because it was something that I really wanted to do. On top of that, there’s another pressure because I’m the first. But that stuff is a little harder to negotiate because I can only represent myself,” he said.

“I do feel the pressure, but the only way to relieve it is just to have more people have these opportunities. I, one person, cannot represent a whole group of people because all of our experiences and backgrounds are completely different. That said, when I got that part, I was like, ‘I want to look like someone who could take on the traditional Hollywood-looking superhero; someone who could take on Thor or Captain America.’ To me, that was an important part of getting to play the superhero. To me, that was an important part of getting to play the superhero, and for me it was important because I was the first one,” he added.

According to media reports, his character Kingo is an Eternal who is cosmic-powered and becomes a popular Bollywood film star to blend in on Earth.



The cast of ‘The Eternals’ with their characters


He even took a humorous dig at the ripped physique that he maintained for the role.

‘Yeah, I did it for all my people. I’m ripped for Pakistan,” he said adding that he has started hating his shirtless picture. “My aunts saying that they were really proud of me. I did not expect that. Listen, it got so much bigger than I thought it was going to get. If I had known it was going to be like that, I probably wouldn’t have done it because, I’ll tell you, I have come to hate that picture.”



Read: Kumail Nanjiani’s ‘The Big Sick’ nominated for an Oscar!

When asked how his own experiences as a Pakistani-American helped in the role, Kumail shared his approach.

“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,” the actor said.

You can watch the complete session here:



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