Actor Kumail Nanjiani reveals he loves challenging roles that will help him explore the extent of his talent as an actor. Nanjiani recently spoke about how he prefers taking on “characters who are complicated,” like his role as Somen Banerjee in his new Hulu show “Welcome to Chippendales.”
During his interview, Nanjiani said this role is outside his comfort zone, and he hopes viewers can differentiate his real personality from the character. He spoke about his inspiration for the role, saying he drew influence from many people to form the character. The show is an eight-episode limited series that tells the true story behind the infamous Chippendales.
It centers around the late Banerjee, an Indian American entrepreneur that changed the nightclub scene by adding a male stripper dance troupe. His scandalous legacy includes a conviction for planning the murder of his business partner and his eventual suicide. The show also features talented actors like Annaleigh Ashford, Robin de Jesus, and Nicola Peltz Beckham.
Read on to find out more.
Kumail Nanjiani Prefers To Take On Challenging Characters
Nanjiani spoke to People magazine at the recent premiere of “Welcome to Chippendales,” his new Hulu show. He talked about his lead role as Somen “Steve” Banerjee, the infamous Indian-American entrepreneur who founded and grew the male stripper empire.
During the interview, Nanjiani was asked whether he was ever concerned about the negative light he could shine on the story of an immigrant. He said, “For me, it’s more important to play characters who are complicated. I’m not interested in playing boring, good, noble characters.”
The “Eternals” actor explained that he doesn’t believe in not being the right actor for certain roles. He said, “And the idea that I can’t play a certain type of character just because I’m not right is not acceptable to me. So for me, my goal is to play interesting, flawed characters. I really was, I was excited to play this guy.”
Kumail Nanjiani On His Performance In ‘Welcome To Chippendales’
The 44-year-old also stated that he’s “never done a performance that’s this outside” his wheelhouse and added that he hopes the show’s viewers can see the difference between him and his performance as Banerjee.
He said to People, “So I hope they’re surprised by my performance and I hope they understand him because he is a very closed, tight, to me, very complicated character, and I hope the audiences understand what it is about him that makes him do the things that he does.”
Nanjiani also revealed that he drew inspiration for his performance from “a bit of a lot of people.”
Nanjiani continued, “A lot of types of people I know, a lot of types of people I’ve met in the business, so it is that. Nobody specifically, because I don’t know anybody like him. It was just a matter of taking pieces of people that I knew or types of people I knew and trying to make a new character.”
The Show Explores The Story Behind The Infamous Chippendales
“Welcome to Chippendales” is a limited series with eight episodes, and according to Hulu’s description, it explores the “insane, darkly comedic, crime-ridden story behind the unique male revue that became a cultural phenomenon.” The late Banerjee rose to fame in 1979 when he created a male stripper dance to attract female audiences at his Los Angeles nightclub.
His male stripper troupe was the first of its kind, and it transformed his nightclub and business. Chippendales has now evolved into a Broadway-style burlesque show, with a Las Vegas flagship and residences worldwide. Banerjee himself was a very controversial man who was once convicted of plotting the murder of his business partner Nick De Noia.
The businessman was also indicted in court for planning the murders of some of his former Chippendale performers, whom he’d allegedly regarded as a threat to his flourishing empire. In 1994, a few hours before his sentencing, Banerjee died by suicide.
The Hulu Series Features An Excellent Cast Alongside Kumail Nanjiani
The Hulu show was created by Robert Siegel and features Nanjiani and his wife, Emily V. Gordon, as executive producers. It also features talented actors like Annaleigh Ashford, Nicola Peltz Beckham, Robin de Jesús, Dan Stevens, Juliette Lewis, and Philip Shahbaz. It’s now streaming on Hulu, with new episodes every Tuesday.
With such a talented cast, Nanjiani also spoke about how he learned a lot from his co-stars during a May interview with Vanity Fair. He said, “I talked to (the cast) a lot about approaching specific scenes, specific emotions, how to turn things off, how to snap in, and how to snap out. This is the advantage of working with great people. You can really really learn from them.”