While appearing on Variety‘s “#REPRESENT: Success Stories,” Silicon Valley and The Eternals star Kumail Nanjiani revealed that he once refused to exaggerate his accent for the role of a taxi driver in a really big movie. According to Kumail, he’s fine with leaning into his Pakistani accent and making it thicker for certain parts, but he draws the line at mocking it for comedy.
“So there was a really, really big movie, actually, that I auditioned for, and I was a taxi driver, and the director was like, ‘Hey, could you play up the accent a little bit?’ And I was like, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t.’” Nanjiani told the #REPRESENT panel. “And then the guy felt really bad.”
Nanjiani then laughed and said he still doesn’t regret refusing to do the accent for the hit film. And if Variety‘s sleuthing is on the ball, it really was a big movie:
While he does not name the movie in question, Nanjiani did say he auditioned for a part in the first “Deadpool” movie in a 2014 episode of his now-defunct podcast “The Indoor Kids.” On it, Emily V. Gordon — Nanjiani’s wife and collaborator — brings up him being asked to exaggerate his accent during auditions. “Which you have been asked to do, and often you’re like, ‘No, thanks,’” she said.
Of course, Nanjiani’s decision to stick to his principles paid off, and he has a starring role coming up in Marvel’s The Eternals. The actor will be playing Kingo, a Bollywood star who’s secretly an immortal being who has been hiding on Earth for centuries. In a March interview with Men’s Health, Nanjiani was particularly proud that he got to base his superhero look on real-life Indian actor Hrithik Roshan. “I’m playing the first South Asian superhero in a Marvel movie,” Nanjiani said. “I don’t want to be the schlubby brown guy—I want to look like someone who can hang with Thor and Captain America.”