Kumail Nanjiani didn’t get ripped / jacked / shredded / etc. because Marvel required him to. It was his choice. In an interview with GQ, the actor and comedian, whose shirtless photos broke the internet in December 2019, revealed that Oscar-winning Eternals director Chloé Zhao was surprised to see his new physique. Surprised, and annoyed.
“Chloé got a little upset at me for getting in shape… I shouldn’t say ‘getting in shape.’ For changing my body to look a certain way,” he said. Zhao responded, “I wanted to make sure he didn’t feel like he had to do it for me.”
Nanjiani explained his decision further:
“If I’m playing the first South Asian superhero, I want to look like someone who can take on Thor or Captain America, or any of those people,” he says. But also because the character shrouds himself in the guise of a Bollywood star. Nanjiani grew up watching Bollywood movies — “From the ’60s to the ’90s I know basically every big [one],” says Nanjiani — so he knows those guys are jacked. “I was like, I want this to be believable. I want to feel that kind of powerful in this role.”
Since changing his body to look a certain way, as he put it, Nanjiani has noticed that people, in particular men, look at him differently: they want to fight him. “I just see the little child inside them, like a little child pretending to be a big, strong man,” he said. “It’s laughable if it wasn’t so fucking devastating — and causing so many problems in the world. I just want to be like, Dude, if you learn how to cry, you’d just be a lot happier.”
If you see Kumail Nanjiani walking down the street or in the gym, please do not turn into Izzy Mandelbaum. He would appreciate it.
Eternals comes out on November 5.