Kunal Nayyar

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Kunal Nayyar
Kunal Nayyar at PaleyFest 2013.jpg
Born (1981-04-30) 30 April 1981 (age 34)
London, England, UK
Ethnicity Punjabi
Alma mater Temple University (MFA),
University of Portland
Occupation Actor, writer
Years active 2004–present
Spouse(s) Neha Kapur (2011–present)

Kunal Nayyar (/kʊˌnɑːl ˈnər/; Hindi: कुणाल नय्यर, 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, Kunal was third on the list of World’s Highest-Paid TV Actors for 2015 with earnings of $US20 million.[1]

Early life[edit]

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

In 1999, Nayyar moved to the US to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Business (Finance) from the University of Portland, Oregon.[5] Working on his degree, he started taking acting classes and appeared in several school plays.[citation needed]

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.[6]


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.[7] 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.[6] In 2006, Nayyar teamed up with Arun Das to write the play Cotton Candy, which premiered in New Delhi to positive reviews.[8]

Nayyar made a guest appearance on the CBS drama NCIS in the episode "Suspicion" (season 4, episode 12), in which he played Youssef Zidan, an Iraqi terrorist.[citation needed]

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, on which he plays astrophysicist Raj Koothrappali.[2]

In 2011, he co-hosted the Tribute to Nerds show with co-star Simon Helberg at the comedy festival Just for Laughs.[9]

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, Canada. The film was produced by Bollywood actor Salman Khan.[10]

From 5 May 2015 to 29 June 2015, Nayyar performed in an off-Broadway production The Spoils, written by and starring actor Jesse Eisenberg. Nayyar plaws Kalyan, a Nepalese student and roommate of the protagonist Ben, played by Eisenberg. [11]

He published a book about his career journey, Yes, My Accent Is Real in September 2015.[12]

Personal life[edit]

Nayyar married Miss India 2006 winner Neha Kapur in December 2011.[13]



Year Film Role Notes
2004 S.C.I.E.N.C.E Pizza Man
2012 Ice Age: Continental Drift Gupta Voice
2014 The Scribbler Karem
2014 Dr. Cabbie Tony
2014 Consumed Serge Negani post-production
2015 A Momentary Lapse of Reason Ashwin Reddy filming
2016 A Bollywoof Tale Santoosh pre-production
2016 Trolls Guy Diamond Voice


Year Series Role Notes
2007 NCIS Youssef Zidan Uncredited
Episode: "Suspicion"
2007–present The Big Bang Theory Dr. Rajesh Koothrappali Main role
2010 The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson Rajesh Koothrappali
2013–present Sanjay and Craig Vijay (voice) Main role
2013–14 Sullivan & Son Sanjay/Neal Episode: "Ladies Night", "Sexual Healing"
2015 The Late Late Show host February 25, 26, & 27
2015 The Mindy Project Sendhil Episode: "While I Was Sleeping"
2016 Galaxy World of Alisa Goulbi British English dub


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


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


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

External links[edit]