"This thing had become too much in my head," Kumail Nanjiani recalls of how he reacted to negative reviews of the 2021 Marvel movie
During a recent appearance on the Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum podcast, Nanjiani, 45, revealed that he ultimately sought counseling after the Marvel Studios movie, directed by Chloé Zhao, received negative reactions.
While Nanjiani shared that he remains proud of Eternals, he said he struggled while the studio sent him and his costars on a lengthy press tour as the film received middling to negative reviews from critics. Only 47 percent of 412 critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes approved of the film, a figure that marked a low point for Marvel films at the time of its November 2021 release.
“The reviews were bad, and I was too aware of it,” he said. “I was reading every review and checking too much. This thing had become too much in my head - this was also right after the pandemic, so we're coming out after this crazy thing and I'm like, 'Okay, this is going to be the coming out party, I've worked so hard for this.' "
In Eternals, Nanjiani played Kingo, a member of the titular immortal group tasked with protecting humans and Earth from their ancient rivals, the Deviants. The movie also starred Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Lia McHugh, Brian Tyree Henry, Barry Keoghan, Kit Harington, Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie.
Nanjiani said he feels that negative reactions to Eternals did not entirely have "to do with the actual quality of the movie,” but even so, he recognized he was not reacting well to the movie's failure to connect with audiences.
“It was really really hard, and that was when I was like, 'This is unfair to me, it's unfair to [my wife] Emily. I can’t approach my work this way anymore. Some s--- has got to change,' " he recalled.
"So very intentionally, I did start counseling. I still talk to my therapist about that. Emily says that I do have trauma from it," Nanjiani added on the podcast. "Actually, Emily and I just got dinner with somebody else from that movie and we were like, ‘Man, that was tough, wasn’t it?’ and he’s like ‘Yeah, that was really tough,’ and I think we all went through something similar."
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Despite receiving negative-to-middling reviews, Eternals still succeeded at the box office and proved the 11th highest-grossing movie of 2021 worldwide; it ranked sixth among all films released that year at the domestic box office. Even so, Marvel Studios has continued to struggle with critical reactions and has seen worsening box office performances in the two years since Eternals released.
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