Late last year, Kumail Nanjiani shocked and amazed the internet by dropping two photos of the new version of himself. Best known for comedies like Silicon Valley and The Big Sick, he’d been cast as a Marvel superhero for Marvel’s forthcoming The Eternals, and he really leaned into it, working out, eating healthy, and, in turn, getting super, surreally ripped. Photos of him shirtless, exposing a respectable six-pack, instantly went viral. But one person who’s not so impressed these days? The Kumail Nanjiani of about six months later.
During a round-up for The Hollywood Reporter featuring him and other comedy actors (in a bit teased out by ComicBook.com), Nanjiani talked about how his feelings about the photos, which he himself made available on his Instagram page, have evolved.
“Listen, it got so much bigger than I thought it was going to get,” Nanjiani admitted. “If I had known it was going to be like that, I probably wouldn’t have done it because, I’ll tell you, I have come to hate that picture.”
Nanjiani says his growing discomfort with the two ripped photos that became social media sensations was about more than just the mega-exposure. “I don’t want to get into it, but you get a weird body dysmorphia when the whole world is concentrating on how you look,” Nanjiani said. He continued:
“And listen, I am very, very grateful and I put those pictures out for a reason, right? I did that because I wanted that reaction, obviously. But then when you get that reaction, it’s a little weird. You’re like, ‘People are really judging little bits of your physical being.’ And I know a lot of people have it a lot worse than me, but it makes you feel naked and I became shallow. I got obsessed with how I look and then all I would see are what I perceive as flaws.”
He was proud that the pics were embraced by certain fans, though: “My aunts saying that they were really proud of me. I did not expect that.” Speaking of which, he was flattered that his shirtless images got the attention of a certain MCU colleague: Chris Evans.
Nanjiani’s six-pack was the result of a year of hard work, which is to say also eating right. Back in January, about a month after his viral photos, he went on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, where he was treated to his first pizza in a year — video of which you can enjoy below.