Kumail Nanjiani understands what it feels like to have people pay attention to your body. He can also tell you that this kind of attention isn’t all it seems to be.
He said that he has realized that he is uncomfortable speaking about his body over the past year and a quarter, ever since that photo was taken.
The “That picture” was the spark that started all the excitement. It was actually two Instagram photos that he posted in 2019 shortly after his transformation to a comedian (from shows like “The Big Sick”) to a completely ripped comedian. He had something to show for having been jacked in preparation for “Eternals,” the forthcoming Marvel superhero film.
It went viral. GQ spoke to Nanjiani, 43 years old, about his frustration at having to talk about it so much.
Emily V. Gordon is his wife. She said that it was almost like growing breasts as a young woman. “You realize that everyone views you differently when you get older.”
He plays Kingo, a superhero almost invincible who also works as a Bollywood superstar in real life. He was so busy at the gym with his trainer, he often threw up. Dwayne Johnson commented that he had done a lot of hard work. It is difficult to build dense muscle.
Nanjiani explained that Chloe Zhao, director of “Eternals”, was shocked at his physical appearance. “Chloe was a bit upset with me for getting in shape. … I should not say “getting in shape.” To change my body in a particular way.” Zhao said to GQ that he wanted to make sure he did it for me.
He wanted to be “the first South Asian superhero.” He said, “I want someone who can take down Thor or Captain America, and any other of those people.” He is a Bollywood fan and knows that Bollywood actors are often very muscular.
He said, “I was like: ‘I want it to be believable.'” “I want that feeling of power in this role.”
He is also concerned about the perpetuation of a toxic masculinity image. He said, “It’s aggression.” It is anger. Many times, we are taught to use our physical strength and brains in a competitive, aggressive way. It is not in an open, compassionate way. It’s not in an open and collaborative manner. The same thing happens when all these guys ask people to debate them via Twitter. It’s like arm wrestling. It’s all about defeating. That’s the male ideal. Dominating. Dominating. Crushing. Crushing. Destruction. This is what being jacked looks like.
He revealed that he wished he could tell his younger self not to be so hard on him, and that he would one day be playing Kingo. “If I could speak to myself, I’d be like… “You’re enough.” That’s what i would say.