Kumail Nanjiani Discusses Developing Kingo for Marvel’s Eternals

In a parallel reality, fans would already have watched Black Widow and started gearing up for Marvel’s Eternals. The next movie in Phase 4 features, per Marvel Studios, “ancient aliens who have been living on Earth in secret for thousands of years. Following the events of Avengers: Endgame, an unexpected tragedy forces them out of the shadows to reunite against mankind’s most ancient enemy, The Deviants.” The movie eyes a February release at the moment, but the fate of movie theaters remains up in the air. Still, in a recent Hollywood Reporter roundtable of comedic actors, the usually very funny Kumail Nanjiani spilled some details about his more serious superheroic role in the project.

Nanjiani, who often appears in comedies as an amusingly annoying character, plays Kingo. Originally the comics had Kingo a Japanese samurai turned action star. Marvel Studios, however, reimagined him as a Pakistani Bollywood star. And Nanjiani consciously wanted him to embody the opposite of everything he’d done before. “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,” he said.

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“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 actor also wanted Kingo to “look like someone who could take on the traditional Hollywood-looking superhero — someone who could take on Thor or Captain America,” he says. But while he pumped up and showed off his gym body online, he regrets that particular photo now. “You get a weird body dysmorphia when the whole world is concentrating on how you look,” he noted. “I became shallow. I got obsessed with how I look and then all I would see are what I perceive as flaws.”

Are you excited to see Nanjiani do the opposite of all his previous roles? Tell us your thoughts in comments.

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