NextSharkNextShark.com
Latest Newsletter🍵 Hawaii’s homeless desperationRead

Article

‘I want to play more bad guys’: Kumail Nanjiani laments lack of villain roles for non-white actors

kumail nanjiani
via Disney Australia & New Zealand

    Asian America Daily - in under 5 minutes

    Get our collection of Asian America's most essential stories, to your inbox daily, for free!

    Unsure? Check out our Newsletter Archive

    Actor and comedian Kumail Nanjiani argues non-white actors rarely get the chance to play the villain. 

    In an interview with Esquire, Nanjiani revealed insights into his role as Somen “Steve” Banerjee in Hulu’s “Welcome to Chippendales.”

    Banerjee was an Indian entrepreneur who immigrated from Bombay, India, to Los Angeles, where he purchased and renovated a nightclub, Chippendales. In 1979, Chippendales became the first to include male stripper performances for female audiences. Within the next decade, Banerjee would be found guilty of attempted arson, racketeering and murder for hire in an attempt to remove Chippendale’s competition.

    “I’ve never gotten to play an arc like this,” Nanjiani revealed about taking on the role of Banerjee. “By far the most layered, complex, complicated person I’ve ever played.”

    The dark role in “Welcome to Chippendales” is a stark turn from Nanjiani’s role in Marvel’s 2021 film “Eternals,” where the Pakistani American actor plays the comedic Celestial Kingo. 

    While preparing for his role in the Marvel franchise, Nanjiani made waves on social media for his drastic superhero-like transformation

     

    View this post on Instagram

     

    A post shared by Kumail Nanjiani (@kumailn)

    However, Nanjiani’s newest character requires the actor to take a 180 on his personality, role and appearance. “I just ate whatever I wanted to because I wanted to look different,” the actor said. 

    “I didn’t do it in a healthy way,” he added, revealing that he reached his heaviest weight and developed sleep apnea in the process. 

    The actor also discussed the rarity of seeing a non-white villain. If “Welcome to Chippendales” hadn’t been based on a true story, the central role would have gone to a white actor, Nanjiani argued. 

    Although diversity in Hollywood is growing, Nanjiani believes fear of misinterpretation is what holds studios back from casting people of color in villainous roles.

    “That’s just as limiting as anything else,” Nanjiani stated. “I want to play more bad guys.”

    Pointing to co-star Sebastian Stan — who plays both complex MCU anti-hero Winter Soldier and a cannibalistic serial killer in “Fresh” — Nanjiani pointed out the difference in roles offered to the actors based on their appearance. 

    “He does these big Marvel movies, and then he’ll play a psychopath. I was told that’s going to be hard because people don’t want to cast non-white people as bad guys.”

    Audiences can find “Welcome to Chippendales” on both Disney Plus and Hulu.


    Related stories:

    Support our Journalism with a Contribution

    Many people might not know this, but despite our large and loyal following which we are immensely grateful for, NextShark is still a small bootstrapped startup that runs on no outside funding or loans.

    Everything you see today is built on the backs of warriors who have sacrificed opportunities to help give Asians all over the world a bigger voice.

    However, we still face many trials and tribulations in our industry, from figuring out the most sustainable business model for independent media companies to facing the current COVID-19 pandemic decimating advertising revenues across the board.

    We hope you consider making a contribution so we can continue to provide you with quality content that informs, educates and inspires the Asian community. Even a $1 contribution goes a long way.  Thank you for everyone's support. We love you all and can't appreciate you guys enough.

    Support NextShark

    Mastercard, Visa, Amex, Discover, Paypal