Kumail Nanjiani says he started counselling for trauma after Marvel film was ‘slammed’

Kumail Nanjiani has spoken out about the impact of receiving poor critical reviews, sharing that he started attending counselling after the release of Eternals.

The actor and writer played cosmic superhero Kingo in the 2021 Marvel film, which adapted the comic about ancient aliens protecting the earth from attack.

In preparation for the role, Nanjiani, 45, underwent a major physical transformation to gain a muscular, “superhero” physique.

Unfortunately, the Chloe Zhao-directed feature did not receive the rave reviews fans and film execs had hoped – compared to other Marvel properties, Eternals has one of the lowest ratings on the aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, with a 47 per cent rating.

For Nanjiani, the negative responses took a toll, and he found himself monitoring many opinions on their work.

“The reviews were bad, and I was too aware of it,” the Lovebirds star said during a recent appearance on the podcast Inside of You with Michael Rosenbaum.

“I was reading every review and checking too much.”

Kumail Nanjiani (Getty Images for eOne)
Kumail Nanjiani (Getty Images for eOne)

He explained that due to the false anticipation of positive responses, Marvel had allowed reviews of the film to be shared during the press tour – meaning that Nanjiani and castmates such as Gemma Chan, Richard Madden and Barry Keoghan had to do interviews for a poorly received project.

“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 added.

“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 s*** has to change, so I started counselling. I still talk to my therapist about that.”

Nanjiani said that his wife and frequent collaborator Emily V Gordon believes he has “trauma” from the experience.

“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.

In The Independent’s three-star review of the film, critic Clarisse Loughrey praised Zhao for the emotional maturity expressed throughout.

She wrote: “Despite its characters explicitly tussling with their own lack of humanity, Zhao has delivered one of the most emotionally grounded entries in the entire franchise. She puts into full view the kind of moral quandaries that Marvel’s only ever really danced around in the past – the cost of individual life, or whether humanity is even worth saving in the first place.”

Elsewhere, The Crown’s Dominic West recently admitted that poor reviews of the historical Netflix drama’s final season led to him “spending two days in bed”.