Kunal Nayyar (/ /, kuu-NAHL NY-ər; born 30 April 1981) is a British-Indian-American actor. He portrayed Raj Koothrappali on the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory (2007–2019), and voiced Vijay on the Nickelodeon animated sitcom Sanjay and Craig (2013–2016). Nayyar also appeared in the films Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012), The Scribbler (2014), Dr. Cabbie (2014), Consumed (2015), Trolls (2016), and Sweetness in the Belly (2019). Forbes listed Nayyar as the world's third-highest-paid television actor in 2015 and 2018, with earnings of US$20 million and US$23.5 million, respectively.
Nayyar was born in Hounslow, West London to a family of Indian immigrants. When he was 4 years old, his family returned to India, and he grew up in New Delhi. He attended St. Columba's School, where he played badminton for the school team. His parents live in New Delhi.
In 1999, Nayyar moved to the United States to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance from the University of Portland, Oregon. He started taking acting classes and appeared in several school plays while working on his degree.
After participating in the American College Theater Festival, Nayyar decided to become an actor. He then attended Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he received a Master of Fine Arts in acting.
After graduating, Nayyar found work doing American television ads and plays on the London stage. 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. In 2006, Nayyar teamed up with Arun Das to write the play Cotton Candy, which premiered in New Delhi to positive reviews.
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 played the role of an astrophysicist Raj Koothrappali.
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. The production transferred to London's West End in 2016.
Nayyar published a book about his career journey, titled Yes, My Accent is Real: and Some Other Things I Haven’t Told You, in September 2015.
In 2020, Nayyar played a convicted serial killer named Sandeep on the Netflix UK production, Criminal: UK. He appeared in the final episode of Season 2, which was released in August 2020. In the same year, he joined the cast of upcoming thriller titled Suspicion on Apple TV+, based on the Israeli thriller TV series False Flag, alongside Uma Thurman, Elizabeth Henstridge and Elyes Gabel.
In 2021, he bagged the titular role of A.J Fikry in upcoming comedy drama The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry alongside Lucy Hale and Christina Hendricks, an adaptation of the New York Times best-selling novel by Gabrielle Zevin.
|2004||S.C.I.E.N.C.E||Pizza Man||Jordan Noce|
|2012||Ice Age: Continental Drift||Gupta||Steve Martino & Mike Thurmeier||Voice|
|2013||Beyond All Boundaries||Narrator|
|2014||The Scribbler||Karim||John Suits|
|Dr. Cabbie||Tony||Jean-François Pouliot|
|2015||Consumed||Serge Negani||Daryl Wein|
|2016||Trolls||Guy Diamond||Mike Mitchell||Voice|
|2019||Sweetness in the Belly||Dr. Robin Sathi||Zeresenay Berhane Mehari|
|2020||Trolls World Tour||Guy Diamond||Walt Dohrn||Voice|
|Think Like a Dog||Mr. Mills||Gil Junger|
|TBA||The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry||A.J Fikry|
|2007||NCIS||Youssef Zidan||Season 4, Episode 12 "Suspicion" (uncredited)|
|2007–2019||The Big Bang Theory||Raj Koothrappali||Main role|
|2010||The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson||Raj Koothrappali|
|2013–2016||Sanjay and Craig||Vijay (voice)||Main role|
|2013–2014||Sullivan & Son||Sanjay/Neal||Episode: "Ladies Night", "Sexual Healing"|
|2015||The Late Late Show||Host||25–27 February|
|The Mindy Project||Sendhil||Episode: "While I Was Sleeping"|
|2016||Ice Age: The Great Egg-Scapade||Gupta (cameo/flashback)||TV special|
|2017||Trolls Holiday||Guy Diamond||TV special|
|Drop the Mic||Himself||Episode: "Mayim Bialik vs. Kunal Nayyar / Ashley Tisdale vs. Nick Lachey"|
|2020||Criminal: UK||Sandeep Singh||Episode: "Sandeep"|
|TBA||Suspicion (upcoming TV series)|
|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|
|Love's Labour's Lost||Other Parts||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|
|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|
|2021||BAFTA TV Award||Best Supporting Actor||Criminal: UK||Nominated|
- McGarth, Maggie. "The World's Highest-Paid TV Actors". Forbes. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
- Robehmed, Natalie. "Highest-Paid TV Actors 2018". Forbes. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- Nayyar, Kunal (2015). Yes, My Accent Is Real: And Some Other Things I Haven't Told You. Atria Books. ISBN 978-1476761824.
- "25 Fun Facts About Kunal Nayyar | The Big Bang Theory". The Fact Site. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
- Singh, Prashant (14 October 2013). "Salman Khan has done such amazing things for our industry: Kunal Nayyar". Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 5 January 2021.
- Kapoor, Kritika (25 June 2010). "I'd rather do social movies: Kunal Nayyar". Daily News and Analysis. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- Ahmed, Sana (28 June 2008). "Going places". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- Successful Actors Talk About Their Training. backstage.com. Retrieved on 2012-11-17.
- "Making it as a nerd". Rediff. 19 November 2007. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- Sahgal, Natasha (16 September 2009). "Geek God". Indian Express. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- Chander, Romesh (16 June 2006). "Staging the fluff of dreams". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 17 April 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- D'Arminio, Aubry (29 March 2016). "7 NCIS Guests Who Went on to Become Stars (PHOTOS)". tvinsider.com. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
- Banerjee, Sudeshna (7 July 2008). "Mr Big Bang". The Telegraph. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
- 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.
- Dr. Cabbie at IMDb
- Brantley, Ben (2 June 2015). "'Review: 'The Spoils' Stars Jesse Eisenberg as Narcissist". New York Times. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
- "Uma Thurman To Headline Apple Drama Series 'Suspicion', Based On Israeli Thriller 'False Flag'". Deadline. 11 March 2020. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
- Diana Lodderhose (16 June 2021). "Kunal Nayyar, Lucy Hale & Christina Hendricks To Star In 'The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry', Mister Smith Launching Sales – Cannes Market". Deadline. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
- "The Talk, CBS". Retrieved 3 March 2012.
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