Last year, Kumail Nanjiani became a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as superhero and Bollywood superstar Kingo in Eternals, but apparently one blockbuster Disney owned franchise wasn’t enough for him. On Friday, he made his premiere in the far, far away galaxy George Lucas gave us as Haja Estree in the new Disney+ series Obi-Wan Kenobi, and apparently the actor learned some very interesting lessons during shooting. And from here on in we need to warn you that SPOILERS follow for the first two episodes of Obi-Wan Kenobi: we consider you officially warned.
When we first encounter Kumail Nanjiani in Obi-Wan Kenobi, he’s no Sith, no Jedi, no bounty hunter, and no crime lord. When Kenobi travels to Daiyu in search of the kidnapped Leia (Vivien Lyra Blair), he learns that Haja (Nanjiani) makes a living tricking the desperate into believing he’s a Jedi. Instead, Haja is a con man using a combination of magnets, remotes, cooperating thieves, and sheer gall to create the illusion. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in an interview that was published earlier this week, Nanjiani said he did a lot of research on con man techniques to prepare for the role. EW asked him if he’s continued to use any of the techniques, and the Eternals star admitted that there was one. “I say people’s names back to them a lot just to get them to trust me,” Nanjiani said. “That’s a big con-man trick. People subconsciously trust people who say their own names back to them. We’re all obsessed with ourselves.”
Kumail Nanjiani also said he’s hopeful he’ll get to return to the role of Haja after Obi-Wan Kenobi. Asked about it, Nanjiani said, “It’s all I’ve thought about… 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?”
Of course there was one Star Wars con man we’ve met: Benicio Del Toro‘s DJ in The Last Jedi. Of course, the difference between them is that Kumail Nanjiani’s character ultimately proves to be more than a con man. After learning Kenobi’s identity Haja puts himself in harm’s way to protect the Jedi from the Inquisitors hunting him. As surprising as it is to see Haja risk his life for someone else, what’s more surprising — considering it’s Moses Ingram’s merciless Third Sister Reva he faces — is that he survives.
We don’t know for sure yet if we’ll see Kumail Nanjiani in the rest of Obi-Wan Kenobi, though IMDb does list him as appearing in all but the premiere episode. Regardless, it would still be great to see him in more Star Wars projects. We don’t think, you know, that Haja should be joining any new Jedi Councils anytime soon, but hey. If Star Wars can have not one but two live-action series with bounty hunters as the lead characters, why not con men?