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Kumail Nanjiani is Becoming a Bona Fide Movie Star

The comedic co-writer and star of ‘The Big Sick’ has lined up new drama and action gigs that will surely propel him to further fame.
By  · Published on March 21st, 2018

The comedic co-writer and star of ‘The Big Sick’ has lined up new drama and action gigs that will surely propel him to further fame.

If there is someone who should be a movie star, it’s Kumail Nanjiani. He unfortunately started out in unnamed roles in comedy projects of days gone past, but he has been out there saving the genre since in HBO’s Silicon Valley and the Oscar-nominated rom-com The Big Sick. He’s now landed two huge projects within a week, and they couldn’t be any more different from each other.

The Hollywood Reporter confirms that Nanjiani will star opposite Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) in an Uber-themed action comedy titled Stuber. Instead of keeping it tech-y in the vein of Silicon Valley, the role puts the actor directly behind the wheel. Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley — the duo who thought up the story for Spider-Man: Homecoming and directed the current sleeper hit Game Night — will produce the project while Goon director Michael Dowse is set to helm it.

In Stuber, Nanjiani will play the eponymous Stu, a mild-mannered Uber driver who picks up Bautista’s grizzled cop. THR states that Stu “finds himself thrust into a harrowing ordeal where he has to keep his wits, his life, and his five-star rating” when he finds out that his passenger is on the hunt for a brutal murderer and he’s presumably along for the ride.

The film sounds like a cross between millennial relatability and your classic buddy cop scenario, and it’s especially promising because of the people involved. Nanjiani is a far subtler comedic presence, but combining that with Bautista’s explosive Drax the Destroyer energy would make for a fantastic juxtaposition of personalities and play to different comedic tropes. Stuber won’t be the only buddy cop comedy that Nanjiani has in the works either, as he’s slated to co-star with John Cena in Ruben Fleischer’s next movie.

As for the other new project, The Tracking Board reports a far more dramatic role for Nanjiani; something he demonstrated a knack for in The Big Sick. That said, this announcement still sounds like something completely new for him. Nanjiani and Mark Ruffalo are in early talks to star in a Pablo Larraín film titled The True American. Kathryn Bigelow had initially occupied the director’s chair and Tom Hardy and Riz Ahmed were previously set to star.

Based on Anand Giridharadas’ nonfiction book “The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas,” Larraín’s film will depict the true story of Rais Bhuiyan, a Muslim immigrant originally from Bangladesh who survived a hate crime in Texas at the hands of white supremacist Mark Stroman; the crime itself resulted in two fatalities. Years down the line, as both men live in the fallout of that horrific event, Bhuiyan — on the grounds of his religion — publicly campaigns that the governor of Texas spares Stroman, who awaits the death penalty.

Unlike anything else Nanjiani is particularly known for, The True American is not a feel-good tale in the slightest. The Google Books summary of Giridharadas’ book is already a mix of heartwrenching and coldly sobering. Stroman and Bhuiyan obviously go off on different paths after their fateful meeting, “one striving on death row to become a better man, the other to heal and pull himself up from the lowest rung on the ladder of an unfamiliar country.” Ultimately,  “The True American” tests the perception of the American Dream and its limitations, especially those faced by many immigrants with multiple intersections in their identities.

The Big Sick offers the kind of real love story that audiences don’t often see on the big screen because Nanjiani told his own story so effectively that it feels universal. The True American will similarly tell a single extraordinary story that could potentially open up a vital conversation about the relationship between Islam and America, albeit in a much more somber light.

Meanwhile, Nanjiani is still embracing the funny in several of his roles; besides movies, the fifth season of Silicon Valley is set to premiere on March 25th. In booking projects that showcase all sides of his talent, Nanjiani is undeniably setting himself up for career longevity in the best way.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)