Kunal Nayyar

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Kunal Nayyar
Kunal Nayyar February 2017.jpg
Nayyar in February 2017.
Born Kunal Nayyar
(1981-04-30) 30 April 1981 (age 35)
Hounslow, London, England, UK
Alma mater Temple University
University of Portland
Occupation Actor, writer
Years active 2004–present
Spouse(s) Neha Kapur (m. 2011)

Kunal Nayyar (/kʊˌnɑːl ˈnər/; Punjabi: ਕੁਨਾਲ ਨੈਯ੍ਯਰ, born 30 April 1981) is a British Indian actor and writer known for his role as Rajesh Koothrappali in the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory.

According to Forbes, Nayyar was third on the list of World’s Highest-Paid TV Actors for 2015 with earnings of US$20 million after The Big Bang Theory.[1]

Early life[edit]

Nayyar was born in Hounslow, London to a Punjabi[2] family and was brought up in New Delhi, India.[3] He attended St Columba's School in New Delhi, where he played badminton for the school team. His parents live in New Delhi.[4][5]

In 1999, Nayyar moved to the United States to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of Portland, Oregon.[6] Working on his degree, he started taking acting classes and appeared in several school plays.[3]

After participating in the American College Theater Festival, Nayyar decided to become a professional actor. He then attended Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he received a Master of Fine Arts in Acting.[7]


Nayyar on a tour with the rest of The Big Bang Theory cast in 2008

After graduating, Nayyar found work doing American television ads and plays on the London stage.[8] He first gained attention in the US for his role in the West Coast production of Rajiv Joseph's 2006 play Huck & Holden, where he portrayed an Indian exchange student anxious to experience American culture before returning home.[7] In 2006, Nayyar teamed up with Arun Das to write the play Cotton Candy, which premiered in New Delhi to positive reviews.[9]

Nayyar made a guest appearance on the CBS drama NCIS in the episode "Suspicion" (season four, episode 12), in which he played Youssef Zidan, an Iraqi terrorist.[10]

Nayyar's agent heard about a role for a scientist in an upcoming CBS pilot and encouraged him to audition for the part. This led to his casting in the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, where he plays astrophysicist Rajesh Koothrappali.[2]

In 2011, he co-hosted the Tribute to Nerds show with co-star Simon Helberg at the comedy festival Just for Laughs.[11]

In 2012, Nayyar voiced Gupta in Ice Age: Continental Drift. That same year, he completed the shooting of his first film, Dr. Cabbie, in Toronto. The film was produced by Bollywood actor Salman Khan.[12]

From 5 May to 29 June 2015, Nayyar performed in an off-Broadway production, The Spoils, written by and starring actor Jesse Eisenberg. Nayyar played Kalyan, a Nepalese student and roommate of the protagonist Ben, played by Eisenberg.[13] The production transferred to London's West End in 2016.

In September 2015, Nayyar published a book about his career journey, Yes, My Accent is Real.

He then voiced Guy Diamond in DreamWorks' animated movie Trolls (2016).

He is set to voice Aziz in Disney Pixar's Cars 3 (2017).

Personal life[edit]

Nayyar married Miss India 2006 winner, Neha Kapur, in December 2011.[14] They live in Los Angeles.



Year Film Role Notes
2004 S.C.I.E.N.C.E Pizza Man
2012 Ice Age: Continental Drift Gupta (voice) Animated film debut
2014 The Scribbler Karem Independent film debut
2014 Dr. Cabbie Tony Feature film debut
2015 Consumed Serge Negani
2016 Trolls Guy Diamond (voice)
2017 Cars 3 Aziz (voice)


Year Series Role Notes
2007 NCIS Youssef Zidan Uncredited
Episode: "Suspicion"
2007–present The Big Bang Theory Rajesh Koothrappali Main role
2010 The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson Rajesh Koothrappali
2013–2016 Sanjay and Craig Vijay (voice) Main role
2013–14 Sullivan & Son Sanjay/Neal Episode: "Ladies Night", "Sexual Healing"
2015 The Late Late Show host 25-27 February
2015 The Mindy Project Sendhil Episode: "While I Was Sleeping"
2016 Ice Age: The Great Egg-Scapade Gupta (cameo/flashback) TV special


Year Title Role Notes
2006 Huck and Holden Navin Dahlia Theater, Los Angeles, United States
Love's Labour's Lost Other Parts Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford upon Avon, United Kingdom
Shakespeare Theatre Company, Lansburgh Theatre, Washington, DC, United States
2015 The Spoils Kalyan The New Group at The Pershing Square Signature Center, New York, United States
2016 The Spoils Kalyan Trafalgar Studios, London


Year Award Category Title Result
2006 Garland Award Best Male Lead in a Play on the West Coast Huck and Holden Won
2012 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series The Big Bang Theory Nominated
2013 Nominated
2014 Nominated
2015 Nominated
2016 Nominated


  1. ^ "The World's Highest-Paid TV Actors". 
  2. ^ a b Banerjee, Sudeshna (7 July 2008). "Mr Big Bang". The Telegraph. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  3. ^ a b Nayyar, Kunal (2015). Yes, My Accent Is Real: And Some Other Things I Haven't Told You. Atria Books. ISBN 978-1476761824. 
  4. ^ Kapoor, Kritika (25 June 2010). "I'd rather do social movies: Kunal Nayyar". Daily News and Analysis. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  5. ^ Ahmed, Sana (28 June 2008). "Going places". The Hindu. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  6. ^ Successful Actors Talk About Their Training. backstage.com. Retrieved on 2012-11-17.
  7. ^ a b "Making it as a nerd". Rediff. 19 November 2007. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  8. ^ Sahgal, Natasha (16 September 2009). "Geek God". Indian Express. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  9. ^ Chander, Romesh (16 June 2006). "Staging the fluff of dreams". The Hindu. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  10. ^ D'Arminio, Aubry (29 March 2016). "7 NCIS Guests Who Went on to Become Stars (PHOTOS)". tvinsider.com. Retrieved 5 May 2016. 
  11. ^ Wyatt, Nelson (26 July 2011). "'Big Bang Theory' stars say most people can relate to being nerds". Winnipeg Free Press. Archived from the original on 14 September 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2011. 
  12. ^ Dr. Cabbie at the Internet Movie Database
  13. ^ Brantley, Ben (2 June 2015). "'Review: 'The Spoils' Stars Jesse Eisenberg as Narcissist". New York Times. Retrieved 16 June 2015. 
  14. ^ "The Talk, CBS". Retrieved 3 March 2012. 

External links[edit]