Kumail Nanjiani already had a complicated relationship with food. ‘Eternals’ didn’t help

A man in a black and gray suit
Kumail Nanjiani attends the L.A. premiere of “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” on Nov. 14.
(Richard Shotwell / Invision / Associated Press)

Kumail Nanjiani has shed more light about his time on Marvel’s “Eternals.” This time, he’s reflecting on how the action movie negatively affected his body image and eating habits.

Days after fellow actors Brendan Fraser and Jennifer Lawrence spoke up about losing weight for previous roles, the “Welcome to Chippendales” star said “‘Eternals’ brought a lot of those issues up to the surface.”

Nanjiani told NPR’s “Fresh Air” on Thursday that he always associated food with “guilt or regret,” even before starring in the 2021 action film as Kingo.

“I’ve always used food as a punishment or as a reward,” he said. “I didn’t really start thinking about it or trying to come to terms with it until after I was done with ‘Eternals.’”


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In addition to his “unhealthy” relationship with food, Nanjiani said he struggled with body-image issues while on “Eternals.”

Earlier in the interview, he reflected on bulking up for the film and how an Instagram post of his ripped superhero figure went viral. Nanjiani, who previously said he was “uncomfortable” about the picture, said his physical transformation was a double-edged sword.

The hype around his sculpted muscles was “powerful” and “exciting,” but fleeting, Nanjiani said.

“It felt reductive, it felt naked, it felt vulnerable,” he said.

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The “Silicon Valley” star added: “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.”


Nanjiani’s comments come after Fraser said earlier this week that he experienced temporary memory loss from his “George of the Jungle” dieting. In a separate conversation with Viola Davis for Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series, Lawrence said she was asked to lose weight for her “Hunger Games” role.

“I remember the biggest conversation was, ‘How much weight are you going to lose?’” the Oscar winner said.

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Hulu’s “Welcome to Chippendales” was a salve for Nanjiani. He said the show, on which he stars as Somen “Steve” Banerjee, prompted him to revisit and rethink his relationship with food.

“It was freeing for months to just eat whatever I wanted, to eat as much as I wanted,” he said. “It sort of freed me from some of the ways that I’ve been thinking about food.”