Kumail Nanjiani took exception with one aspect of his portrayal in “Silicon Valley”, and his wife was even less impressed.
Nanjiani’s jaw-dropping physique has made countless headlines in the lead-up to Marvel’s “Eternals” movies. It was not that long ago, however, that his allegedly ugly appearance was often the centre of jokes on “Silicon Valley”.
“There were entire storylines around it,” Nanjiani told Vulture. “That stuff does get to you, where you’re like, ‘Aww…that’s not a great feeling.’ I love everyone on the show, and I never voiced this concern. Maybe I should have. Other actors did when they had stuff that they didn’t enjoy doing. I understand that storyline ended up being funny. But yeah, parts of that didn’t feel great.”
Fellow screenwriter Emily V. Gordon, Nanjiani’s wife, was also bothered by the jokes.
“I did not like that you were considered unattractive on the show,” Gordon added. “That really f**king bothered me.
“The assumption that [Kumail’s] not attractive did feel a little bit tied… because when you look at those men,” she continued. “If I were ranking completely objectively… Even my mom would call me and be like, ‘Why are they saying that about him? I don’t understand.’ But yeah, it bugged me. I didn’t like it.”
For Nanjiani, his role and physical transformation in “Eternals” provided an opportunity to break stereotypes about brown Asian men in Hollywood.
“Brown Asian men are completely desexualized,” he explained. “I looked at the usual opportunities that the brown dudes get. We get to be nerdy. I wanted him to be the opposite of that — I wanted him to be cool. With nerdy goes ‘weakling,’ and I wanted him to be the opposite of that and to be strong physically.”
“Or we get to be terrorists, and I wanted him to be the opposite of that. I wanted him to be this character full of joy.”