Actor Kumail Nanjiani is heading to a galaxy far, far away.
After starring in Marvel’s “Eternals” last year, Nanjiani has a new role in the upcoming Disney+ live-action “Star Wars” series “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” which debuts on Friday, May 27.
The premiere is less than a week away, and Nanjiani joined Entertainment Weekly’s new Star Wars podcast, Dagobah Dispatch, to give eager fans some information about his character.
Kumail Nanjiani Spills The Beans On His ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ Character
The premiere is only a week away, and fans are just now learning the name of Nanjiani’s character.
Nanjiani revealed that his character’s name is Haja and said that he worked on the streets of Daiyu. If you haven’t heard of Daiyu before, you’re not alone. Nanjiani revealed that it’s a “new Star Wars location that we haven’t seen before that’s absolutely gorgeous.”
He teased that Haja’s main focus is all about survival and he works “really hard to stay out of the bigger conflicts at play.”
However, that doesn’t mean he’s exactly a good guy. Nanjiani revealed that he’s a “sort of con-man guy who cons people for money.”
“That’s what’s important to him,” he continues. “And then he has a run-in with Obi-Wan and suddenly he sort of gets stuck in the bigger conflicts at play, which is the thing that he really tries to avoid. So he is this street-level con-man guy who then gets embroiled in stuff that’s way too big for him. And he has to make a choice.”
Kumail Nanjiani Says He Is A ‘Really Big’ Star Wars Fan
Nanjiani said he was a “really big” fan of Star Wars, adding, “I don’t remember a time when I didn’t really love Star Wars. Obviously, I collected the action figures when I was a kid. I don’t know where they went, but [I was] just really big into sci-fi and definitely very, very big into Star Wars since I can remember. So it was a very exciting phone call to get.”
He revealed that, when he got the call, he didn’t even need to get a script. He recalled, “I remember exactly where I was. I was in my kitchen, and I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ I yelled to Emily [V. Gordon, his wife] like, ‘Ah, they want me to be in Obi-Wan!’ And then they were like, ‘They won’t tell us anything about the character or anything, but they want you to talk to Deborah Chow, the director.’”
He revealed that Chow tried to pitch him the idea to convince him to take on the role, but Nanjiani didn’t need much convincing. “I was like, ‘Deb, I’m going to do it. It’s Star Wars. You don’t need to, like, talk me into doing Star Wars.’ So it was a very, very, very easy decision, especially since I’m such a big fan of Ewan’s [McGregor, who plays Obi-Wan] and I’ve never gotten to meet him or work with him. So that was another exciting piece to the whole thing.”
Kumail Nanjiani Talks Working With Ewan McGregor
“So, on this, I met Ewan, he was lovely, wonderful,” he explained. “They yell ‘Action!’ and then he started speaking and I was like, ‘I’m in a scene with Obi-Wan Kenobi right now! That is what is happening!’ And it’s completely undeniable because it looks like him, it sounds like him, you look around, and it looks like Star Wars all around you.”
He added, “So there is always that moment where you’re like, ‘Okay, I have to figure out a way to get past this and turn it into just another job,’ which is very challenging because so much of the stuff we did was practical.”
When asked about the difference between filming a Star Wars movie and a Marvel movie, he said, “to me, the thing that sets Star Wars apart from really any other job I’ve done is how the entire crew was a massive fan of Star Wars. Every day, people would wear Star Wars clothes, T-shirts with Chewbacca on them. And just everyone was really, really every single day excited to be working on Star Wars. And I’ve never done a job where every single day you could feel that everyone was grateful to be there.”
He explained that Marvel is a “new universe that’s being created as you’re going. With Star Wars, you’re really stepping into something that has been established for a very long time. It still is the same visual language, people know these characters.”
Nanjiani added that the cast and crew were “just really excited to go to work every day. This is stuff that everybody’s loved since they can remember, and the fact that they get to work on it was not lost on this crew. So the joy of it for the crew really was unique and special.”
Even though Haja might not survive the series, Nanjiani said, “I would love to play this character again. Not just because of Star Wars, but it’s a really, really, really fun character to play. I’ve never gotten to play a character like this before. I think it’s a type of character that we haven’t exactly seen in Star Wars either — with a con man, you know?”
“I really looked up a lot of stuff about that to learn how to really play a character like this,” he added. “And I love this character so much. It would be genuinely a dream come true to play him again. Can we get Kathleen Kennedy on here?”
Fans will just have to see if Haja lives up to the hype when “Obi-Wan Kenobi” premieres on Friday, May 27.