Why Kumail Nanjiani Couldn't Refuse Welcome to Chippendales

In an exclusive interview with E! News, Welcome to Chippendales star Kumail Nanjiani explained why he couldn't say no to the show and what makes the shocking story so compelling.

By Daniel Trainor Nov 23, 2022 12:39 AMTags
Watch: Why Kumail Nanjiani Couldn't Refuse Welcome to Chippendales

Not all roles are created equally. 

In the new limited series Welcome to Chippendales, premiering Nov. 22 on Hulu, Kumail Nanjiani plays Somen '"Steve"' Banerjee, the real-life founder of the iconic male dance revue.

It's a story that's as shocking as it is compelling—and it's one that Kumail couldn't believe was actually true.

"One of the first conversations I had with Robert Siegel, our creator, he told me he had the eight episode breakdown," Kumail explained exclusively to E! News. "He was like, ‘And in episode four, this happens. In episode five, this happens.' I kept stopping him to be like, ‘Did that really happen?' He was like, ‘Yeah, this is all real.'"

So, Kumail knew what had to be done.

"My reaction was, ‘I have to do this. I have to play this character who does all these wild things because I want to figure out how to play him in a way that makes sense,''' he said. "I was just really excited. At the end when he was done talking, I was like, ‘Well. I have no choice. I have to do this.'"

2023 TV Premiere Dates

While Kumail was eager to dive deeper into the fascinating Chippendales story, he also found a teacher on set in the form of Annaleigh Ashford, who plays his wife Irene.

"I learned a lot from her and seeing her notes and how she prepares for scenes and how she handles it between takes, how she handles notes," he raved. "I was just glad I was present enough that when I was working with her, not only was I having a good time, but also constantly learning from her. My next job, I'm going to be slightly better because of her."

When it comes to the story of Banerjee—who went from being a gas station attendant to operating the largest male stripping empire in the world—Kumail isn't sure his parents would have been thrilled if he had followed the same initial path.

"They would have been like, ‘Congratulations, I guess. Wish it was doing something else,'" he joked. "I think that would have been my parents' reaction if I opened any kind of strip club, honestly."

Erin Simkin/Hulu

Not only is Kumail certain his mother wouldn't be found in a strip club, "I think it's going to be a challenge for her to watch this show."

The first two episodes of Welcome to Chippendales —which also stars Murray Bartlett, Dan Stevens, Nicola Peltz, Quentin Plair and Robin de Jesús—are available now on Hulu, with new episodes premiering Tuesdays on the streamer.

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