Kumail Nanjiani, who came to fame playing a computer geek on “Silicon Valley,” was as shocked as anyone else to discover he was trending on social media last month for his ridiculously chiseled, six-pack abs.
Appearing on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Thursday, the comedian reflected on his viral moment when he broke the internet by sharing a photo of his newly ripped body, sculpted by the rigorous training regimen he adopted for his upcoming superhero turn in Marvel’s “The Eternals.”
“I was on set, shooting, and I just put it on my Instagram, and then I checked an hour later, and it was, like, fine — some likes. I was like, ‘Cool,’” he recalled. “And then I checked again, and it had exploded. On my Twitter, I was scrolling, and it was just like, my torso, torso, torso, torso. It was over and over and over. It really got out of control. ... Super weird, man. It was a weird couple days.”
On cue, Kimmel produced the portrait of a shirtless Nanjiani in a heroic stance, showing off his toned abdomen and bulging biceps. The actor explained how he decided to post the uncharacteristic snap ahead of the holiday season.
“It was like the week before Christmas, and I was like, ‘I don’t know if I’m ever going to look like this again. Who knows what I’m going to look like after Christmas,’” he joked. “So I was like, ‘I want to take a picture just so I have it.’ And then as soon as I saw the picture, I was like, ‘The world must see this.’”
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I never thought I’d be one of those people who would post a thirsty shirtless, but I’ve worked way too hard for way too long so here we are. You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. I found out a year ago I was going to be in Marvel’s Eternals and decided I wanted to transform how I looked. I would not have been able to do this if I didn’t have a full year with the best trainers and nutritionists paid for by the biggest studio in the world. I’m glad I look like this, but I also understand why I never did before. It would have been impossible without these resources and time. So big thanks to @grantrobertsfit who started working with me at the beginning of the year and made me understand true physical pain for months and months. Then, once we started shooting, a massive thanks to @davidhigginslondon and his team (@ellispartridge, @thebeardypt, @tomcheesemanfitness) for training me almost every day and making me strong, limber and injury free. I can almost touch my toes now. (And thank you for forcing me to do cheat meals David.) Matthews Street Catering for their delicious and healthy meals. And finally, the biggest thanks goes to @emilyvgordon for putting up with me complaining and talking about only working out and dieting for the last year. I promise I’ll be interesting again some day. #thirstyshirtless (Photo by @markupson.) (edit: I left off one very important person: @lancecallahan who trained me for 6 years and helped me build the foundation I could use to do this. Thank you!)
He also addressed the media storm his muscles ignited and jokingly called out some of the more backhanded headlines they spurred.
“The story that I didn’t like was, a lot of people would do two side-by-side pictures and be like, ‘Can you believe this turned into this?’” he quipped. “And it’s just a picture of me from a year and a half ago, looking how I’ve looked my entire life. ... They’re like, ‘Can you believe this garbage-pooping sea monster turned into this? Like, was I leaving a trail of slime behind me? I was normal-looking!”
Echoing his Instagram caption, Nanjiani then detailed the severe dietary restrictions required to achieve his new look, revealing that he’d consumed next to no refined sugar or carbs in more than a year. But as of this week, he officially completed production on the highly anticipated tentpole, and Kimmel had a little surprise.
“Are you serious? Are you joking? Oh my God! This is for me?” Nanjiani exclaimed as a selection of sweets dropped down in front of him, seemingly from the heavens. “I’m literally going to cry right now. I’m not joking.”
As he continued to munch on cake and pizza throughout the remainder of the visit, Nanjiani compared the experience to the emotions he felt while going through the life-changing events that inspired his 2017 hit film, “The Big Sick.”
“My wife was in a coma, and we didn’t know what was going to happen, and I remember very specifically the day we were like, ‘Is she going to make it?’” he said. “And I remember when I got to the hospital one of those days and went in, and she was up and sitting on her bed. I’m happier right now.”
Nanjiani and his shredded torso will make their MCU debut when “The Eternals” hits theaters Nov. 6.