Kumail Nanjiani recently revealed that he lost out on a major role in a Hollywood film because he refused to play up his Pakistani accent. The Eternals star opened up about how he still struggles to find auditions where people don’t ask him to do a Pakistani accent to land “stereotypical brown guy roles.” Although the actor did mention that he would never shy away from flaunting his accent if the role demanded it, he asserted that he did not feel comfortable doing it just for comedy.
The 42-year-old actor, who was born in Karachi, stated that even though he already has an accent, people would regularly ask him to play it up to sound funnier. “I have a Pakistani accent, but they would be like, ‘Could you make it funnier? Lean in a little bit.’ And at some point, I decided I just wasn’t going to do that. There are certain parts that require a thicker Pakistani or Indian accent, and that’s totally fine, but I just didn’t want the comedy to just be coming from someone exaggerating their accent,” he told Variety.
Kumail went on to share one such experience where he lost a major role because he refused to exaggerate his accent. “So there was a really, really big movie, actually, that I auditioned for, and I was a taxi driver, and the director was like, ‘Hey, could you play up the accent a little bit?’ And I was like, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t.’ And then the guy felt really bad,” he recalls. “And I was like, ‘No, it’s fine. I’m just not going to do it. If that’s what you want, I’m not your guy,’” he said.
The actor revealed that the film was hugely successful. And while he did not mention the film’s name, the actor had previously revealed that he auditioned for the movie Deadpool. The Marvel film that came out in 2016 featured a South Asian taxi driver played by Karan Soni and he reprised the role in Deadpool 2.