Kumail Nanjiani has gotten to have some experiences any pop culture nerd would envy over the years, most notably a guest-starring role on “The X-Files” when the series returned for a 10th season in 2016. However, don’t expect to see him in Season 11 (currently shooting now), or for him to resume his podcast “The X-Files Files.”
As he told IndieWire’s Mike Schneider during the IndieWire Honors ceremony last week, the character he played in “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-monster” had a pretty definite end, which also contributed to the ending of the podcast he started in 2014 to discuss episodes of the beloved Fox drama.
“I can’t really do the podcast anymore, because I feel like I’m a part of that world now,” he said.
Fortunately, it’s not like he lacks for work: Between starring on HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” hosting “Saturday Night Live,” and entering the Oscar race for the first time, It’s the year of Kumail, and he’s doing his best to enjoy it.
“I’m having the best time,” he said about his experience with “The Big Sick,” the critical and commercial hit based on his real-life relationship with now-wife and co-writer Emily V. Gordon. “To make something personal and to have people like it, it’s the best thing ever.”
And he’s doing his best to savor it. “Emily said, ‘You don’t really take a moment to be happy with what you’ve done,'” he said. “‘You’re always thinking about the next thing.’ That’s how I’ve been for many many years. This year, I decided to enjoy being done with something and enjoy people enjoying something I’ve made.”
Directed by Michael Showalter, Nanjiani stars as a vaguely fictionalized version of himself, whose complicated relationship with girlfriend Emily (played in the film by Zoe Kazan) gets even more complicated when a medical emergency puts Emily in a coma.
It wasn’t a story he necessarily felt would be an instant hit with moviegoers, but in his words, “The lesson Emily and I have learned going through this is that you can’t really guess what the audience wants. Just make something that you can be proud of, that is the story you want to tell… The most important thing is to be proud of what you’re doing.”
Nanjiani also revealed what it’s like to participate in the awards season circus for the first time, and teased that while his next project might also be an independent one, it might be a lot more like “The X-Files” than “The Big Sick.” Check out the full conversation below.