Dan Nainan



Aasif Mandvi

In the summer of 2009, Dan had the opportunity to work on the M. Night Shyamalan/Paramount feature film “The Last Airbender”, shooting for 16 days in and around Philadelphia.

The opportunity arose because Dan had done a few stand up comedy shows with Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi, who was kind enough to recommend Dan to work on the film . Dan alternated between serving as stand-in for Mr. Mandvi and role of a Fire Nation Warrior.

During a break in filming, Dan happen to be standing next to Night. Ignoring the protocol of not speaking to the stars or director unless spoken to, Dan told him that he had performed at a wedding in Philadelphia, and that Night’s parents had come up and introduced themselves . Night’s eyes widened immediately, and he said “That was you? My father was raving about you!” Night told his whole staff that Dan was a hilarious standup comedian, and introduced him to his wife and children. Night even allowed Dan to leave filming early one day to get to a show in New Jersey for Governor Jon Corzine.

During the entire filming, Casting had continuous trouble finding South Asian actors to play Fire Nation Warriors. Casting was even resorting to hiring Hispanic or Arab actors, as long as they looked even somewhat Indian. And all a South Asian actor (or wannabe actor) had to do was show up and film for three days, and he would immediately be eligible to join the Screen Actors Guild.

On the set, Dan developed a friendship with Dev Patel, star of “Slumdog Millionaire”. Dev was incredibly nice and down-to-earth, without the attitude of most big stars. He would speak with anyone and everyone, and he even waited in the lunch line with all of the cast and crew, even though he didn’t have to.
Although the film was panned by nearly everybody, it went on to gross over $300,000,000 worldwide, and Dan made a whole bunch of new friends and became eligible to join the Screen Actors Guild.