Eternals star Kumail Nanjiani and writer-producer Emily V. Gordon say they skipped a 2022 Emmys afterparty because it didn’t require COVID-19 testing.
The duo revealed why the testing requirement was important to them while speaking to Insider about their new “Up the Antibodies” campaign, which focuses on raising awareness and increasing education within the immunocompromised community about medical options that offer added protection against COVID-19. As Gordon is immunocompromised, having been diagnosed with adult-onset Still’s disease, the couple felt the lack of testing was too risky and so they ultimately passed.
“Our COVID boundaries are a lot stricter than everybody else we know,” comedian and actor Nanjiani told Insider. “Often we’re the only ones wearing masks wherever we are.”
Nanjiani and Gorden did attend the actual show, a decision that came down to it requiring COVID-19 testing. But at other social events, as COVID protocols have loosened or shifted in the last year, they’ve had to more consciously weigh the risks of attending.
“You can’t be 100 percent sure that nothing is going to happen,” Nanjiani said. “The only way to do that is stay home, and we don’t want to do that anymore.”
Overall, the couple said they remain diligent with masking and keeping up with the latest science on boosters and other protective treatments. And communication with each other about all of this is a priority so they know each others’ boundaries and anxieties, allowing them to navigate any potential risks together.
“It’s a constant negotiation because for me it’s not a binary thing where we’re careful or we’re not careful,” Nanjiani said. “It’s all fluid and changing and both our approaches are different.”
While speaking to THR about the “Up the Antibodies” campaign, Gorden noted that discussing her personal health is “uncomfortable” at times but the campaign offers the kind of visibility for immunocompromised people she wants for herself.
“I would have loved to have just witnessed it,” she said. “But since there are not a lot of immunocompromised people in the entertainment industry — or if they are, they’re kind of not being out with it — I’ll do it.”
She also commended Barry creator and director Bill Hader, who was seen wearing a mask during the 2022 Emmy Awards. “I was so impressed by him, by his willingness to wear a mask there, and to see that.”
COVID-19 protocols and safety at the award show became a subject of online discourse when the Barry actor, writer and producer was captured during the telecast in a mask. Some viewers commented on social media that Hader appeared to be one, if not the only, person in the room masked at the industry event.
In a March 2022 Hollywood Reporter cover story, the actor explained his decision around masking was due in part to his own autoimmune condition, for which he takes immune-suppressing medication. It was also driven by COVID-based production expenses.
Hader, who at the time said he wears an N95 mask to work on the masking-optional Sony lot, told THR he moves between stress around getting COVID-19 and anxiety around whether that worrying will trigger his autoimmune condition.
“I thought, ‘If I get COVID, it’s going to cost a shit ton of money,’” he said. “And so I was very, very strict. I put myself under a lot of pressure. I just don’t like that that’s taking up space in my brain when I have all this other shit I’m trying to do.”