Kumail Nanjiani was told to "play up the accent" in Hollywood film audition
Kumail Nanjiani has spoken of an audition in which he was asked to “play up the accent” for a major Hollywood film.
Without revealing the title, Nanjiani explained the situation to Variety, in which the director asked the actor to emphasize his accent – who refused.
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Describing his experience across his first few years of auditioning, Nanjiani said, “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.”
The Lovebirds actor then recalled the instance where he turned down a major role due to the director’s requests. “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 said.
“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.’ And then that movie was hugely successful. Still, I don’t regret it.”
Nanjiani most recently starred in Netflix romcom The Lovebirds opposite Issa Rae. In a four-star review, NME called the film “a witty send-up of the genre that benefits greatly from its two leads’ electric chemistry.”