‘RRR’ Star NTR Jr. Says He’d ‘Love’ to Do a Marvel Movie: ‘I’m Waiting for It to Happen’

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Welcome to this week’s “Just for Variety.”

Dear Marvel: Please meet with “RRR” star NTR Jr. The actor tells me he’s hoping to join the MCU. “I would love to do it,” he said at the Jan. 7 screening of “RRR” at the DGA in West Hollywood, adding with a smile, “I’m waiting for it to happen.”

His favorite Marvel character is Iron Man. “He’s so relatable,” NTR Jr. said. “He is someone like us. He does not have superpowers. He doesn’t come from a different planet. He’s not someone who has been put through a science experiment and become the Hulk.”

Not that NTR Jr. needs to prove he has what it takes to play a superhero. Not only does he kill it as a revolutionary in the action dramedy “RRR,” but his ripped physique is getting lots of attention. He trained 18 months and gained about 15 pounds of muscle for the role. “I was eating seven goddamn meals a day — 4,000 calories!” the Tollywood star said.

PS: “RRR” is one of my top movies of the year. Pure entertainment. Pure fun. See it. See it on the big screen, if possible.

Make sure to catch me and Elizabeth Wagmeister today on the red carpet hosting the official Golden Globes digital pre-show, produced by Variety. Tune in at 3:30 p.m. PT/6:30 p.m. ET at variety.com.

Rian Johnson reveals that his early attempt at screenwriting wasn’t so stellar. The “Knives Out” writer-director told me at Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch and Creative Impact Awards Brunch in Palm Springs that he wrote his first script when he was 19 and still in college. “It was something that will luckily never see the light of day,” Johnson said, adding, “It was about this fish professor. It was not good.”

Asked to explain what a “fish professor” is, Johnson laughed, “That’s a good question. You’ll have to ask 19-year-old me.”

Michelle Yeoh at the 2023 Palm Springs International Film Awards held at the Palm Springs Convention Center on January 5, 2023 in Palm Springs, California. Christopher Polk for Variety

Michelle Yeoh was the last to arrive on the carpet at the Palm Springs Intl. Film Festival opening night gala, after much of the press had packed up and headed out. I hear that getting to the desert took longer than expected because her flight out of Paris the day before had to turn around due to mechanical problems.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 10: Nathaniel Curtis attends The South Bank Sky Arts Awards 2022 at The Savoy Hotel on July 10, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images) Getty Images

“The Witcher: Blood Origin” actor Nathaniel Curtis says the cast nicknamed him “Fancy Gay Jesus” because of his signature long locks and his queer character Brían’s fab silk robes and jewelry. “The thing is, I had so much fun on that set,” the actor, who first gained attention for his work in Russell T Davies’ AIDS drama miniseries “It’s a Sin,” tells me on this week’s episode of the “Just for Variety” podcast. Landing the “Witcher” role, Curtis says, “means the world to me.” He grew up loving the fantasy genre. “To be asked to play the first openly queer character in the ‘Witcher’ universe, when I heard that, it kind of sunk in that it wasn’t even just about me,” Curtis says. “It was about the people. It was about 9-year-old Nathaniel, 10-year-old Nathaniel, 11-year- old Nathaniel who wanted to see people of color in the fantasy world. Then 17- and 18-year-old Nathaniel who longed to see queer people of color in the fantasy world.”

“Till” star Danielle Deadwyler is a major “Lord of the Rings” fan. While she can do a spot-on Gollum impersonation (see the video above), she insists she would never attempt to be part of that world. “Would I do ‘Lord of the Rings’? No!” she says. “They don’t want me to do ‘Lord of the Rings.’ I just love Andy Serkis, his physicality, his vocality. I think that’s the stuff that really interests me because I’m a dancer first, so anything that marries multiple disciplines, I’m with that.”