‘Eternals’ Actor Said Hollywood Won’t ‘Cast Non-White People As Bad Guys’ Despite His Desire To Play A Villain

Kumail Nanjiani
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

“Eternals” actor Kumail Nanjiani said he’d like to star in more villain roles but was told studios refuse to cast non-white actors into those parts. 

“I think that Hollywood now — even though they’re trying to be more diverse — is still weird,” the 44-year-old star told Esquire U.K. during a recent interview. 

Nanjiani went on to express his belief that restricting certain races from playing these parts, even if well-intentioned, is at the same time hindering those actors who Hollywood studios claim to be trying to help.

“And that’s just as limiting as anything else,” the “Silicon Valley” actor said. “I want to play more bad guys.” 

He mentioned Sebastian Stan, best known for playing the Marvel superhero Bucky Barnes/Winter Solider. Stan also plays a cannibal in the 2022 horror movie “Fresh.”

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

Meanwhile, the actor said he doesn’t believe he would have been cast as Somen “Steve” Banerjee in the new Hulu limited series “Welcome to Chippendales” if it hadn’t been based on a true story. He told Esquire that he believes the part, based on an immigrant from India, would have gone to a white actor instead.

Nanjiani previously discussed the role more in-depth with The Hollywood Reporter, also expressing at that time his desire to depict a villain. 

“I’ve never gotten the opportunity to play a character like this, who has such a big arc and a descent into darkness. I’ve always [wanted to play] the bad guy — I don’t mean just guys who were kind of sh**y; I mean a bad bad guy,” he said.

“The story itself was so exciting and unexpected,” he said of the Chippendales retrospective.

“There are, like, 20 unbelievable things that happen in the course of our show, and that all happened in real life,” he continued. “And it had interesting stuff to say about the American dream and how accessible it is to different kinds of people, and to see that through the lens of an immigrant.”

“I’m an immigrant, and I had a certain idea of the American dream before coming here. And now, obviously, that’s evolved. To be able to explore that through the eyes of someone who, in some ways, had a similar experience to me is rare,” the actor said.

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