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Kunal Nayyar

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Kunal Nayyar
Kunal Nayyar at PaleyFest 2013.jpg
Nayyar at the 2013 PaleyFest
Born (1981-04-30) 30 April 1981 (age 41)
Alma mater
Years active2004–present
(m. 2011)

Kunal Nayyar (/kʊˈnɑːl ˈn.ər/, kuu-NAHL NY-ər; born 30 April 1981) is a British 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.[1][2]

Early life

Nayyar was born on 30 April 1981 in Hammersmith, London, to a family of Indian immigrants.[3] When he was three years old, his family returned to India and he grew up in New Delhi, where his parents live.[4][5][6] He attended St. Columba's School, where he played badminton for the school team.[7][8]

In 1999, Nayyar moved to the United States to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance from the University of Portland in Oregon.[9] He started taking acting classes and appeared in several school plays while working on his degree.[6]

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.[10]


Nayyar on a tour of The Big Bang Theory in 2008

After graduating, Nayyar found work doing American television ads and plays on the London stage.[11] 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.[10] In 2006, Nayyar teamed up with Arun Das to write the play Cotton Candy, which premiered in New Delhi to positive reviews.[12]

Nayyar made a guest appearance on the CBS drama NCIS in the season four episode "Suspicion", in which he played Youssef Zidan, an Iraqi terrorist.[13]

In 2007, 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 its premiere in September of that year to the show's conclusion in May 2019.[14]

In 2011, he co-hosted the Tribute to Nerds show with co-star Simon Helberg at the comedy festival Just for Laughs.[15]

Nayyar voiced Gupta in Ice Age: Continental Drift in 2012. During the same year he completed the shooting of the film, Dr. Cabbie, produced by Bollywood actor Salman Khan.

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.[16] 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.[6]

He voiced another animated movie character named Guy Diamond in DreamWorks' Trolls, released in November 2016.

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 the thriller TV series Suspicion on Apple TV+, based on the Israeli thriller TV series False Flag, alongside Uma Thurman, Elizabeth Henstridge and Elyes Gabel.[17]

In 2021, he was announced as having been picked to play the title role of A. J. Fikry in the upcoming comedy drama The Storied Life Of A. J. Fikry, alongside Lucy Hale and Christina Hendricks, an adaptation of the best-selling novel by Gabrielle Zevin.[18]

Personal life

In December 2011, Nayyar married Neha Kapur, a model, actress, and Femina Miss India 2006.[19]



Year Film Role Director(s) Notes
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
2023 Spaceman TBA Johan Renck Post-production
TBA The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry A.J. Fikry


Year Series Role Notes
2007 NCIS Youssef Zidan Season 4, Episode 12 "Suspicion"
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"
2022 Suspicion Aadesh Chopra Main role


Year Title Role Notes
2006 Huck and Holden Naveen 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


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
2021 BAFTA TV Award Best Supporting Actor Criminal: UK Nominated


  1. ^ McGarth, Maggie. "The World's Highest-Paid TV Actors". Forbes. Archived from the original on 19 March 2018. Retrieved 3 February 2020.
  2. ^ Robehmed, Natalie. "Highest-Paid TV Actors 2018". Forbes. Archived from the original on 2 August 2020. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  3. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Archived from the original on 18 January 2022. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  4. ^ Kapoor, Kritika (25 June 2010). "I'd rather do social movies: Kunal Nayyar". Daily News and Analysis. Archived from the original on 23 September 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  5. ^ Ahmed, Sana (28 June 2008). "Going places". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  6. ^ a b c Nayyar, Kunal (2015). Yes, My Accent Is Real: And Some Other Things I Haven't Told You. Atria Books. ISBN 978-1476761824.
  7. ^ "25 Fun Facts About Kunal Nayyar | The Big Bang Theory". The Fact Site. 8 March 2012. Archived from the original on 25 October 2020. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Successful Actors Talk About Their Training Archived 11 November 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2012-11-17.
  10. ^ a b "Making it as a nerd". Rediff. 19 November 2007. Archived from the original on 21 June 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  11. ^ Sahgal, Natasha (16 September 2009). "Geek God". Indian Express. Archived from the original on 2 March 2022. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  12. ^ Chander, Romesh (16 June 2006). "Staging the fluff of dreams". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 17 April 2011. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  13. ^ D'Arminio, Aubry (29 March 2016). "7 NCIS Guests Who Went on to Become Stars (PHOTOS)". Archived from the original on 2 May 2016. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  14. ^ Banerjee, Sudeshna (7 July 2008). "Mr Big Bang". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 29 May 2012. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Brantley, Ben (2 June 2015). "'Review: 'The Spoils' Stars Jesse Eisenberg as Narcissist". New York Times. Archived from the original on 5 December 2017. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  17. ^ "Uma Thurman To Headline Apple Drama Series 'Suspicion', Based On Israeli Thriller 'False Flag'". Deadline. 11 March 2020. Archived from the original on 12 March 2020. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  18. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 1 September 2021. Retrieved 1 September 2021.
  19. ^ "The Talk, CBS". YouTube. Archived from the original on 22 October 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2012.

External links