Actor Kumail Nanjiani has been reflecting on the bad press Marvel’s Eternals got, and how he had to seek therapy to cope.
Kumail Nanjiani was part of the rather large ensemble cast of Marvel’s Eternals. The film was directed by Oscar-winner Chloé Zhao and Marvel had high hopes for it; Marvel chief Kevin Feige, for example, was reportedly in awe of Zhao’s style of filmmaking and in theory, Eternals would have pushed Marvel from mass entertainment to… mass entertainment with a “From Oscar winning director” in its trailer.
However, Eternals was received pretty poorly. The film holds a 47 percent critics score on Rotten Tomatoes, with much criticism aimed at the convoluted story and bloated runtime. Audiences didn’t really connect with the film either; Eternals grossed just over $400 million at the global box office, but it had a price tag of $272.6 million.
Now, nearly three years after the release of Eternals, Nanjiani has been reflecting on the experience.
Nanjiani also noted that Marvel’s decision to lift the reviews embargo so early hurt the film and made press junkets slightly awkward.
“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.
That means Nanjiani would be stuck in a room with a revolving door of the very journalists who had reviewed his film badly. Reviews are never personal, especially the bad ones, but I can’t imagine it was particularly pleasant for anyone in the situation.
The whole experience made Nanjiani seek therapy to help him cope with it.
“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,” Nanjiani said. “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 counselling. I still talk to my therapist about that.”
Nanjiani’s wife, writer Emily V Gordon, also believes that the actor had trauma from the whole experience, making therapy even more crucial.
Nanjiani has previously spoken about being uncomfortable talking about his body after images of his new physique went viral. The actor trained extensively for his role as Kingo in Eternals, but the press attention was relentless after his physical transformation.
This is one of those rare news stories that have a bit of a depressing headline and a bulk of the story is also a bit gloomy, but it’s great that Nanjiani has been able to get help with this. Actors are often in a privileged position, but that doesn’t necessarily erase the hurt felt by negative reviews, especially if you’re proud of what you’ve been a part of.
We at Film Stories take mental health very seriously and have a weekly column dedicated to it.