Kumail Nanjiani was hit hard by negative reviews for his 2021 Marvel film, Eternals.
“I had the best time doing that movie, and I realized this is how work should feel like,” Nanjiani, 45, said of the project during a Tuesday, February 6, appearance on the “Inside of You With Michael Rosenbaum” podcast. “However, when that movie came out and the reviews weren’t good, that was very, very tough for me, and I realized that too much of how I’m evaluating what I want to do is based on the result of what other people think of it.”
Upon its release, Eternals became the lowest-rated Marvel Cinematic Universe movie on both Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic. It received mixed reviews from critics as well, with Rogerebert.com calling it “a bit of a mess” as well as “rushed and unsatisfying.”
Nanjiani admitted on Tuesday that he thought the film — which also starred big names including Barry Keoghan, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie — was “a slam dunk” going into it.
“Marvel thought that movie was going to be really, really well reviewed, and so they lifted the embargo really early and they also put it in some fancy movie festivals and they sent us on a big global tour promoting the movie right as the embargo lifted,” the actor recalled. “So, we had to travel the world while they thought we’d be going on a wave of raves and it wasn’t true. The reviews were really bad.”
Nanjiani admitted that he became “too aware” of the bad press, to the point where he started therapy to unpack its effect on him.
“It was really hard, and that was when I thought it was unfair to me and unfair to (my wife), Emily (V. Gordon), and I can’t approach my work this way anymore,” he said. “Some s–t has to change, so I started counseling. I still talk to my therapist about that.”
Nanjiani, who married Gordon, 44, in 2007, previously opened up about how Eternals took a toll on his body image.
“I’ve always used food as a punishment or as a reward. I didn’t really start thinking about it or trying to come to terms with it until after I was done with Eternals,” he said during a December 2022 appearance on NPR’s Fresh Air.
Nanjiani added that the conversation surrounding photos of his ripped superhero physique that went viral in 2019 was both “exciting” and confusing.
“It felt reductive, it felt naked, it felt vulnerable,” he said. “I don’t regret releasing those pictures because they did change my life. However, I do wish it didn’t occupy as much of my head space as it does.”
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