(RoyalPatriot.com )- Actor Kumail Nanjiani pointed out last week that non-white actors rarely have the opportunity to play the villain.
In an interview with Esquire about his role in Hulu’s “Welcome to Chippendales,” Nanjiani said he had never played a more complex, layered, complicated person before.
In “Welcome to Chippendales,” Nanjiani plays the real-life character Somen “Steve” Banerjee, the Indian entrepreneur who, in 1979, purchased and renovated the Chippendales nightclub, the first club to include male strippers 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 the competition.
Nanjiani told Esquire that to prepare for the role of the heavier Banerjee, he ate “whatever I wanted to because I wanted to look different.” He said he didn’t put on the pounds in a healthy way and he developed sleep apnea in the process.
Nanjiani said if “Welcome to Chippendales” hadn’t been based on a true story, the central character probably would have gone to a white actor. He said while diversity is increasing in Hollywood, he thinks that fear of misinterpretation is preventing studios from casing people of color as villains.
Nanjiani told Esquire that this fear can be “just as limiting as anything else,” adding he wants to be able to play more bad guys.
Citing his co-star Sebastian Stan, Nanjiani pointed out the difference in roles offered to actors based on their appearance. He said Stan “does these big Marvel movies” and then he gets cast in the role of a cannibalistic serial killer in “Flesh.” Nanjiani said he had been told that this would be hard for him to do “because people don’t want to cast non-white people as bad guys.”
Nanjiani told Esquire that after he starred in “The Big Sick,” he received a lot of opportunities for additional roles, but all of them were for a “nerdy, weak guy, defined by his lack of agency or power.”