Kumail Nanjiani wanted to show “brown dudes” aren’t all “nerdy” in ‘The Eternals’.
The 43-year-old actor portrays Bollywood star and secret immortal hero Kingo in the upcoming film and he was pleased to work with director Chloe Zhao to shatter stereotypes with his “joyful” alter ego.
Speaking to Awkwafina for the LA Times newspaper, he said: “I’ve been in this industry for about a decade and I looked at the usual opportunities that the brown dudes get.
“We get to be nerdy. I wanted him to be the opposite of that — I wanted him to be cool. With nerdy goes ‘weakling,’ and I wanted him to be the opposite of that and to be strong physically.
“Or we get to be terrorists, and I wanted him to be the opposite of that. I wanted him to be this character full of joy.
“In working with Chloé, we were like, let’s take every single thing that I haven’t gotten to do and make a character who’s the exact opposite of the way a lot of American pop culture see people from Pakistan or the Middle East.”
And the ‘Silicon Valley’ actor felt “very lucky” to work with the filmmaker as she supported his passion.
He added: “I was very lucky that Chloé was really on board with that. Because when you have like 10 characters, you’re trying to set yourself apart from the other characters and find your own shadings. You’re not going to get a ton of real estate. So you want it to come from a very specific place.”
On ‘The Eternals’, Kumail was determined to work without his usual anxieties.
He said: ” decided going in, I’m going to have fun during this process. Sometimes I get too nervous, or I get too anxious. Does this happen to you? For me, if I get an exciting job I’m happy for 30 seconds. And then I’m like, ‘Oh, God. What am I supposed to do?’ “