Kumail Nanjiani opened up about the mental toll of promoting a movie with harsh reviews, saying this week he ended up seeking a counselor after completing the Eternals press circuit in 2021.
“The reviews were bad, and I was too aware of it,” Nanjiani said during an appearance on Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum. “I was reading every review and checking too much.”
Released in 2021, Chloe Zhao’s Eternals currently holds a 47 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, making it one of Marvel’s worst-reviewed entries in the cinematic universe.
“It was really, really hard because Marvel thought that movie was going to be really, really well reviewed, so they lifted the embargo early and put it in some fancy movie festivals and they sent us on a big global tour to promote the movie right as the embargo lifted,” Nanjiani continued.
The timing meant that he and his co-stars were tasked with doing press for a film while audiences watched it fail.
“I think there was some weird soup in the atmosphere for why that movie got slammed so much, and I think not much of it has to do with the actual quality of the movie,” he continued. “It was really hard, and that was when I thought it was unfair to me and unfair to [my wife] Emily, and I can’t approach my work this way anymore. Some shit has to change, so I started counseling. I still talk to my therapist about that.”
“Emily says that I do have trauma from it,” he continued. “We actually just got dinner with somebody else from that movie and we were like, ‘That was tough, wasn’t it?’ and he’s like ‘Yeah, that was really tough,’ and I think we all went through something similar,” he said.
Before the film’s release, Nanjiani also made headlines for his role in Eternals following an impressive physical transformation in preparation for the role.
“I found out a year ago I was going to be in Marvel’s Eternals and decided I wanted to transform how I looked,” he wrote on Instagram at the time. “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.”
Since then, Nanjiani has been open about how he still finds it uncomfortable to talk about his body.
“I’ve found out over the last year and a half, since I did that picture, that I am very uncomfortable talking about my body — and it’s become less and less and less comfortable,” he told GQ in 2021.