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Kumail Nanjiani in The Big Sick

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:

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I never thought I’d be one of those people who would post a thirsty shirtless, but I’ve worked way too hard for way too long so here we are. You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. I found out a year ago I was going to be in Marvel’s Eternals and decided I wanted to transform how I looked. I would not have been able to do this if I didn’t have a full year with the best trainers and nutritionists paid for by the biggest studio in the world. I’m glad I look like this, but I also understand why I never did before. It would have been impossible without these resources and time. So big thanks to @grantrobertsfit who started working with me at the beginning of the year and made me understand true physical pain for months and months. Then, once we started shooting, a massive thanks to @davidhigginslondon and his team (@ellispartridge, @thebeardypt, @tomcheesemanfitness) for training me almost every day and making me strong, limber and injury free. I can almost touch my toes now. (And thank you for forcing me to do cheat meals David.) Matthews Street Catering for their delicious and healthy meals. And finally, the biggest thanks goes to @emilyvgordon for putting up with me complaining and talking about only working out and dieting for the last year. I promise I’ll be interesting again some day. #thirstyshirtless (Photo by @markupson.) (edit: I left off one very important person: @lancecallahan who trained me for 6 years and helped me build the foundation I could use to do this. Thank you!)

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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.

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