Kumail Nanjiani Discusses Approach To His ‘Eternals’ Character, Wants To Bring Joy

Kumail Nanjiana attends the Men in Black International premiere
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Kumail Nanjiani is portraying the first Pakistani superhero to hit the big screen. The Lovebirds actor will star as Kingo in the upcoming Eternals flick from Marvel Studios. Kumail’s character is an immortal who has been on Earth since ancient times and is currently a Bollywood actor. While sitting down for The Hollywood Reporter, the actor noted what he wanted to bring to Kingo, based on his acting opportunities in the past.

According to Kumail, he wanted to approach Kingo differently from the roles he had been offered as an actor. He noted being a brown man in entertainment means you traditionally get offered parts for either nerds or terrorists, but the opposite needed to be done for Kingo.

“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 cast of the Eternals at SDCC 2019
  Jesse Grant / Getty Images

Kumail’s resume includes nerds or passive players, from projects like Silicon Valley and Stuber. Kingo will definitely be the opposite, which is also evident in the intense behind-the-scenes work Kumail did to perfect his body for the role. He also joked in the Hollywood Reporter interview that he got “ripped for Pakistan” when joking with fellow actors like Ricky Gervais and Dan Levy.

Bringing joy to Kingo is huge for the Pakistani star who hopes to bring different views to the people of his country. American viewers traditionally see actors from the Middle East as the bad guys in films, so Kumail’s character is definitely a breath of fresh air for the actor and moviegoers alike.

The Big Sick actor will star alongside a diverse cast in Eternals, which includes Angelina Jolie, Kit Harington, Richard Madden, Salma Hayek, Brian Tyree Henry, Gemma Chan, and Ma Dong-seok. The film has been delayed due to COVID-19 from its November 6 premiere and now will hit theaters on February 12, 2021.

Eternals is currently in post-production, so Kumail’s time in front of the camera is over unless further re-shoots are needed.