You’d think getting absolutely jacked for Marvel’s Eternals or acting across from Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi would be one of the most daunting tasks in Kumail Nanjiani‘s career, but nope. The actor had the most trepidation over his latest role as Somen “Steve” Banerjee, the villainous founder of the iconic male stripper empire that’s the center of the new Hulu miniseries Welcome to Chippendales. Nanjiani opened up in a new interview about what it’s like playing a character who has absolutely none of the actor’s personal traits.
“Welcome to Chippendales is the role I’ve been most nervous to take on, because I never played anybody like [Somen],” Nanjiani told InStyle. “I’ve mostly played people who were, in some ways, different versions of myself. Generally they were funny or had some element of likability to them.”
After revealing that he was concerned about playing the role because he didn’t want to play “a bad guy from my part of the world,” Nanjiani ultimately dove into the project, but one thing he didn’t do is bring the character home. He’s not about that method acting life:
He learned how to break out of unpleasant emotions and turn things on and off between takes in order “to have a normal life and be a good husband and be present at home, and not bring it home with me,” he says, especially considering his wife was also a producer on the show. (“I want to have a good life, a happy life!” he says of actors who go full-on method).
Nanjiani also had another trick in up his sleeve: That new jacked bod.
“I really still enjoy working out. I get a lot out of it. It’s for me, mentally, been really good,” he told InStyle. “It grounds me in my body, it’s good for stress, I sleep better, and it makes me better at my job, you know, because so much of acting is about sort of feeling your body and being in your body.”
Welcome to Chippendales struts it stuff November 22 on Hulu.