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Kumail Nanjiani Didn’t Know He Was Playing the Bad Guy

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To his credit, hiring people to kill what you are promoting rivals, it’s expedient.

It’s just efficient. He’s businessman

And doubtless cheaper in the long run.

Oh, it’s definitely cheaper. After I came upon that it was like $20,000, I used to be like, Wow, even with inflation, that seems very low. What a bargain. I mean, at that time, you may’t afford to not get your enemies killed

Did you’re taking any of him home with you? That anger and repression that he has?

I actually tried to not. He’s rigid and a few of that’s in opposition to everyone around him. You have got these gorgeous men, very in contact with their bodies, very fluid. He’s completely divorced from the whole lot below his neck. Then in his belly, there’s a dangerous fire. Every molecule in his body is working to maintain that contained. Due to that, I did start having pain under my shoulder blades. I’ve never gotten to do that much emotionally difficult work. The scene where Steve was being interrogated by the cops — at the tip of each take I used to be shaking and soaked in sweat. And I’m just sitting there talking!

Did you may have any anxiety about pulling off a dramatic role?

At its best, acting is continually surprising yourself. That’s something I learned working with Murray and Annaleigh [Ashford] Robin [de Jesús] and Andrew [Rannells] and Juliette [Lewis]. Every take must be a discovery. When I ultimately did say yes to this, I didn’t feel any more sure of it than I had felt five years ago, I just knew that I’d never feel able to do it. It’s like what people say about having kids, which is you’re never ready, you only need to do it. That’s the way it felt. I used to be like, I can trust myself enough to learn as I am going and figure this out.

Are there ways in which a personality like Steve reinforces certain stereotypes about Southeast Asian immigrants? Or complicates them?

After I first said no, I used to be like, I don’t wish to play a foul guy who’s brown on this climate. However the tyranny of the positive portrayal is just as reductive because the stereotype. I hear from people saying that I would like to place up a pure, noble front. That’s not interesting to me. Once I finished this, I used to be like, I need to play more villains. I saw Sebastian Stan in “Fresh,” and he plays such a foul guy. I used to be like, what an interesting profession: He does Marvel, things where he’s a superhero, after which he’ll do things where he’s a very scary sociopath. I used to be like, I need to try this. Simply because I’m not white shouldn’t mean that I can’t do those things.

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