See Kumail Nanjiani as Murderous Chippendales Founder Steve Banerjee in New Hulu Show

"This is by far the most challenging job I've ever done," Kumail Nanjiani said in an interview with Vanity Fair on Thursday

Welcome to Chippendales
Kumail Nanjiani as Somen "Steve" Banerjee in Welcome to Chippendales. Photo: Erin Simkin/Hulu

Kumail Nanjiani is bringing the wild, and at times gruesome, story of Chippendales to the small screen.

In Hulu's upcoming Welcome to Chippendales, premiering later this year, the 44-year-old actor plays Somen "Steve" Banerjee, an Indian immigrant who founded the male-stripping empire.

"This is by far the most challenging job I've ever done, in terms of the length of the shoot, the content of the scenes, and emotional difficulty of those scenes," Nanjiani told Vanity Fair in an interview published Thursday. "It's one of those things where I just jumped in, and trusted that it'd reveal itself as it goes — and it did."

Banerjee, who had his eyes set on living the American dream, opened a nightclub and explored various gimmicks before finding his niche. One day, a successful male striptease routine exclusively performed for women proved to be the shtick Banerjee was looking for.

The first of its kind, Chippendales exists to this day and has evolved to performing Broadway-style burlesque shows all over the world and at their flagship venue in Las Vegas.

In addition to dancers, Banerjee's legacy is shrouded in scandal, though. Hours before he was to be sentenced in 1994 for having arranged the 1987 murder of his business partner, Emmy-winning director and choreographer Nick De Noia, Banerjee died by suicide in his prison cell.

He was also indicted for plotting to kill former Chippendale dancers he allegedly considered a threat.

Robert Siegel, the writer for the show, noted to Vanity Fair: "This was a chance to say a lot of things about the American dream, about capitalism, about assimilation, and what it means to be an American."

Speaking to PEOPLE in May, Nanjiani said, "People don't know that the real story of it is really wild." He added, "Some really surprising stuff happened, and it's surprising that people don't really know about it."

Noting that "there's a lot of twists and turns" within the series, Nanjiani detailed that "the show itself spans 15 years from the beginning, all through [the Chippendales] hype, to sort of when it started being less popular."

"The behind-the-scenes stuff that happens is crazy. It's enough for, like, 10 podcasts," Nanjiani added with a laugh.

Welcome to Chippendales
Quentin Plair in Welcome to Chippendales. Erin Simkin/Hulu

For the actor, who is known for playing more comedic roles in Silicon Valley and The Big Sick, had to change his approach to the role with such a dark character. "How do you approach someone like this, who's done so many horrible things?" Nanjiani asked Vanity Fair. "How do you play someone like that from the inside out?"

In finding his character's true essence, the Eternals actor might have gone more "method acting" than intended. "I started having this back pain a few months into the shoot, this gnarly knot," Nanjiani revealed to the outlet. "It got worse and worse and the pain would go from there all the way up to my ear."

"The body doesn't know the difference between you doing a sad scene and you being really sad in real life," the Pakistani-born actor said, explaining how the character would often follow him home during filming. "I'd never done this kind of work."

Welcome to Chippendales
Murray Bartlett as Nick De Noia in Welcome to Chippendales. Erin Simkin/Hulu

In the upcoming show, Nanjiani stars alongside Annaleigh Ashford as Somen's wife, Emmy-nominated White Lotus star Murray Bartlett as De Noia, Tick, Tick… Boom!'s Robin de Jesús as the man Somen helps enlist for a brutal crime, and Juliette Lewis, as a patron who takes an immediate liking to Chippendales. Other stars of the show include Nicola Peltz Beckham, Dan Stevens and Philip Shahbaz.

With such a star-studded cast, Nanjiani took the opportunity to learn from his costars. "I talked to [the cast] a lot about approaching specific scenes, specific emotions, how to turn things off, how to snap in and how to snap out," Nanjiani told Vanity Fair.

He continued, "This is the advantage of working with great people. You can really, really learn from them."

Welcome to Chippendales
Juliette Lewis in Welcome to Chippendales. Erin Simkin/Hulu

As for Siegal's impression of Nanjiani in such a different role, he said to Vanity Fair, "I love standup comedians as dramatic actors, because they usually are tortured souls and it finds its way out, somewhere in the performance."

Coshowrunner Jenni Konner added to the outlet, "Seeing [Nanjiani] do this kind of work, which is not his wheelhouse, was astonishing. The commitment to the role really blew my mind."

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In addition to his starring role, Nanjiani serves as an executive producer alongside his wife, Emily V. Gordon and others including Dylan Sellers and Chris Parker of Limelight, as well as Rajiv Joseph and Mehar Sethi, who are also writers on the series. Siegel and Konner serve as the show's co-showrunners and Shakman will direct. Jacqui Rivera is co-executive producer and Annie Wyman is co-producer.

A release date for Welcome to Chippendales has not yet been announced by Hulu.

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