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Why Jibran from The Lovebirds looks so familiar

Every happy couple goes through plenty of milestones as their form a real relationship — the first fight, moving in together, and so on — but typical couples don't have to deal with a hit and run and a murder mystery while also navigating their future together. Unfortunately for Jibran and Leilani, the main characters of the new Netflix film The Lovebirds, they have to solve a murder, clear their own names, and figure out where their relationship is headed all in one night, providing way more complications than most normal couples face. 

The Lovebirds, which is directed by Wet Hot American Summer's Michael Showalter and which was rescued by Netflix after its theatrical release was delayed by the COVID-19 crisis, stars Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae as Jibrain and Leilani, the couple caught in the middle of a confusing catastrophe, and if you're wondering where you've seen Nanjiani before, there are plenty of options. From stand-up comedy to Oscar-nominated films to a future stint in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, here's why Kumail Nanjiani looks so familiar.

Kumail Nanjiani's comedy roots

After guest-starring in small roles on shows like Portlandia and Veep and running his own Comedy Central show, The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail (which he co-hosted with fellow comedian Johan Ray), Nanjiani finally got his big break on HBO with a regular role on its hit comedy series Silicon Valley. Nanjiani appeared in the series, which was created by Office Space's Mike Judge in 2014, alongside talented comedic actors like Thomas Middleditch, Martin Starr, and T.J. Miller, and he remained a regular throughout the show's six-season run, which came to a close in December of 2019.

On the show, Nanjiani played Dinesh Chugtai, a programmer involved with Pied Piper (the company created by Middleditch's coder, Richard Hendricks) who often finds himself at odds with his sarcastic coworker Bertram Guilfoyle (Starr). Ultimately, the series, which earned critical acclaim throughout its time on the air, gave him the visibility he needed to take his next big steps and become an even bigger name in Hollywood.

An Oscar-worthy film put Nanjiani on the map

2017 brought Nanjiani's biggest opportunity yet, and all he had to do was recreate his own life story on the big screen to get noticed by the Academy. That year, Nanjiani wrote and starred in The Big Sick — also directed by Michael Showalter — which tells the true story of how he, a struggling stand-up comedian, met and fell in love with his wife, Emily (played by Zoe Kazan in the film; Nanjiani's real-life wife, Emily V. Gordon co-wrote the screenplay with her husband). As Kumail and Emily fall in love, their relationship hits an unexpected and serious snag when Emily ends up hospitalized and placed in a medically-induced coma. From there, an unprepared Kumail must deal with Emily's parents, played by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter, as well as his own family, who are furious with him for dating a girl who isn't Pakistani.

Though the premise sounds depressing, The Big Sick is as hilarious as it is heartfelt and, in the end, Nanjiani and Gordon's dramatic love story put him on the map in a very real way. The pair earned a nomination for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards in 2018, and the film ultimately became the second-highest-grossing independent film of 2017, earning over $26 million.

Kumail Nanjiani's other roles and his exciting future

The Big Sick was definitely Nanjiani's most visible outing, and it made him an even bigger star. After appearing in Jordan Peele's CBS reboot of The Twilight Zone in 2019, earning him an Emmy nod for his performance, the actor lent his voice to projects like Men in Black International and Dolittle, and appeared in action flicks like Stuber. He also worked behind the scenes on the AppleTV+ anthology series Little America, which he produced and wrote along with collaborators like Master of None's Alan Yang and The Office's Lee Eisenberg. He and Gordon also started a podcast during the coronavirus quarantine, Staying In with Emily and Kumail, which has earned universal acclaim.

However, Nanjiani's first real starring blockbuster role is yet to come, as he's all set to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2021's The Eternals — for which he got seriously ripped — as Kingo, a cosmic-powered Eternal who becomes a Bollywood star. With a leading role alongside stars like Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, and Kit Harington, among others, Nanjiani's star is sure to rise more than ever after The Eternals hits theaters.

Whether you're already a fan of Nanjiani's work or need to check out his biggest hits before The Lovebirds, there's certainly plenty to pull from in this actor's diverse body of work. You can also catch him in The Lovebirds, which will drop on Netflix on May 22, 2020.