Actor Kumail Najiani has been having a great couple of years. First, he got to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe as one of the key faces of the cosmic team in Eternals. Then, he went on to be cast in the highly anticipated Star Wars series Obi-Wan Kenobi. Those are quite the high-profile projects to be a part of back-to-back––the head writer of Moon Knight even wanted to get him into his own series.
According to a potential leak, his new role as Haja in the Star Wars universe will be a contact of Bail Organa's––so, he'll seemingly be a friend to Kenobi. His character can also be seen briefly in the most recent trailer for the project.
One has to wonder, though, just how different is the experience working on Marvel Studios projects compared to Star Wars? Thankfully, someone thought of asking that exact question to the actor in a recent interview.
The Star Wars-Marvel Difference
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Eternals and Obi-Wan Kenobi actor Kumail Nanjiani commented on his role and how his experience with Star Wars differed from his time at Marvel Studios.
The actor noted how with his time on the Marvel Studios project, “people [didn’t] really know these character [or that] part of the MCU,” but for the upcoming Star Wars series, they were “really stepping into something that has been established for a very long time:”
“I think with Star Wars, the difference was... Obviously, working on Eternals, it’s the MCU. Everyone’s such a fan of the MCU, but we are sort of working with new characters, right? The people don’t really know these characters and don’t really know this part of the MCU. So it’s a new universe that’s being created as you’re going. With Star Wars, you’re really stepping into something that has been established for a very long time. It still is the same visual language, people know these characters.”
Kumail went on to admit how “[he’s] never done a job where every single day you could feel that everyone was grateful to be there,” something he felt strongly while working on Obi-Wan Kenobi:
“So, to me, the thing that sets Star Wars apart from really any other job I’ve done is how the entire crew was a massive fan of Star Wars. Every day, people would wear Star Wars clothes, t-shirts with Chewbacca on them. And just everyone was really, really every single day excited to be working on Star Wars. And I’ve never done a job where every single day you could feel that everyone was grateful to be there.”
He made it clear that “the joy of it for the crew really was unique and special:”
“I would go into work and they’d be like, ‘Oh, you know what we did yesterday, we did this. And then we did this, and then we did this.’ And everyone was just really excited to go to work every day. This is stuff that everybody’s loved since they can remember and the fact that they get to work on it was not lost on this crew. So the joy of it for the crew really was unique and special.”
Kumail revealed that his character’s name is Haja and how “[he] would love to play this character again” in the future, exclaiming how “[he’s] never gotten to play a character like this before:”
“It’s all I’ve thought about. I don’t know what that does, but yeah, I would love to play this character again. Not just because of Star Wars, but it’s a really, really, really fun character to play. I’ve never gotten to play a character like this before. I think it’s a type of character that we haven’t exactly seen in Star Wars either with a con man, you know?”
To get prepared for the role, the actor “looked up a lot of stuff about [magicians and con men] to learn how to really play a character like this:”
“He can talk people into stuff, so that’s a really fun character to play. And I actually did a lot of research online on con men and on magicians too. Because magicians, let’s face it, they’re a kind of like a con man, right? They’re tricking people. So I really looked up a lot of stuff about that to learn how to really play a character like this. And I love this character so much. It would be genuinely a dream come true to play him again. Can we get Kathleen Kennedy on here?”
The Love of Star Wars Triumphs?
It’s interesting to hear how he so strongly felt love and passion about Star Wars from those around him when he worked Obi-Wan Kenobi, but didn’t feel the same on Eternals. Obviously, they’re all newly introduced characters, but even then, one would think there’d still be a passion for Marvel in the air.
Hopefully all that passion translates well on to screen, and the upcoming Star Wars project will do well. Though, it would be difficult for it to do worse than Eternals, which was not received well by the masses.
As for Haja, the actor’s character, many had speculated that Kumail Nanjiani might be playing the infamous Hondo Ohnaka, who shows up consistently in both the Clone Wars and Rebels animated series. While it seems this isn’t the case based on the quick glimpse of the actor in the recent trailer, it is ironic how he is playing the same con man-type person.
Kumail is a great actor, so the more of him, the merrier. Hopefully, his character survives his run-in with Obi-Wan and can easily return in other projects down the line.
Obi-Wan Kenobi hits Disney+ on May 27.