Kumail Nanjiani turned down small parts in Marvel movies because he was determined to star as a superhero in one.
The 42-year-old, who plays immortal being Kingo in the upcoming comic book adaptation of Eternals, revealed in an interview with Men’s Health magazine that he wanted to follow in the footsteps of fellow comedy actors Chris Pratt and Paul Rudd, who have carved out successful Marvel careers.
After he was passed over for a part in Marvel’s TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Kumail was determined not to be cast in nerdy sidekick roles, so decided to wait until a bigger part came his way.
“It was a pipe dream, but I was very strategic about it. I was like, ‘I don’t want to be just part of a Marvel movie; I want to be a Marvel superhero,'” he explained.
The Big Sick star appears alongside Angelina Jolie, Kit Harington and Richard Madden in Eternals, and his character is part of a group of cosmic-powered beings who are sworn to protect Earth.
Kumail’s superhero character Kingo disguises his powers by becoming a successful Bollywood star, and he confessed that he based his performance on Bruce Willis’ iconic role as wry police officer John McClane from 1988’s Die Hard, which is one of his favourite films.
“That movie’s life-or-death, and Eternals is life-or-death, too. I was like, ‘How can a character crack wise but still have tension, and not make it feel like you’re making fun of the whole thing?'” he explained.
Eternals will hit cinemas in November.
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