British by passport, Indian roots from his parents and current star of American TV show The Big Bang Theory, Kunal Nayyar is a true renaissance man. In addition to playing the role of a highly intelligent guy, he really is sharp, smart and highly educated.
He has also done an interesting mix of projects, including previously guest-starring on NCIS and co-writing the critically acclaimed play Cotton Candy, among other show-biz appearances.
DA MAN: From what I can work out, you were born in London, secondary school in India, undergrad in Portland and grad school in Philadelphia. Tell us about that whole odyssey?
Kunal Nayyar: I was born in London. But, when I was four we moved to New Delhi, where my parents were from. I did all of my schooling there. When I was 18, I moved to the states
to go to college. B.A. in Portland. M.F.A. in Philly. My first real experience of America was Portland. It was spectacular, everyone was friendly and high and curious. Some of my best friends today are people I met in Portland.
DA: Did you always want to be an actor?
KN: I always wanted to be involved in the arts in some form. I didn’t know whether acting was it. What I did know is that I loved being on stage. In any form, I just enjoyed having an audience. The truth is; whatever it was, whether it was acting or sports, I always did my best when people were watching. Growing up, I didn’t have much opportunity to be involved in the arts, I was too busy playing badminton and chasing girls, or trying too hard to be accepted by the “cool” kids.
DA: Are you and The Big Bang Theory cast like full-on geniuses in real life?
KN: They are geniuses in the field of acting. I am not, in any form, a genius.
DA: What do you and your cast-mates do together when not shooting?
KN: We love playing ping pong. Whenever we have a break from rehearsal everyone yells “dibs” and runs to the ping pong tables. We have three tables. Kaley [Cuoco, who plays the ditzy blonde neighbor, Penny] is very good. Also, we are all pretty big foodies, so if we get a night off, we like to go and pig out at fancy restaurants.
DA: Can you tell us how you got into acting?
KN: I had just graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia. I had a Master’s in acting and was just finishing up a play at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford Upon Avon [England], and I got a call from a manager in L.A., who had seen me in an acting showcase. I asked him if I should consider moving to L.A. and he said ‘I cannot tell you what to do. But I can tell you that it is going to be very, very difficult. I cannot promise you anything, I can only promise you I will work as hard for you as I can.’ I don’t know why, but that sounded like a challenge that I had to accept. A challenge to myself, that regardless of the odds, this was everything that I had trained and worked for. So I did it, I had to quench my thirst. And so far it has worked out. Although, I am still thirsty, very thirsty. Oh, and a quick shout out to my manager Jason Kim for calling me and believing in me, without you, none of this would have been possible.
DA: What are your goals in your acting career?
KN: I’ve always wanted to win an Oscar. However, as I am getting older and more familiar with this industry, I’m beginning to believe that the only thing that I really want to achieve is this: At the end of my career I want to be known as the actor that was always on time and never forgot his lines.
DA: What is you big dream for your career?
KN: I would love to make enough money, so
I can take some time off, and open an Acting School in New Delhi for up-and-coming talent.
DA: Are you dating anyone?
KN: Next question.
DA: You seem to have a plethora of talents, acting, comedy, music, writing; where did you get all that?
KN: I do not know. No one in my family does the aforementioned. ‘A plethora of talents’ I like that, it has a nice ring to it. Thanks DA MAN!
DA: Which of the above-mentioned talents do you have the most passion for?
KN: Secretly, I am most passionate about music, I would love to be a rock star. I just wish I was better at it.
DA: Where do you call home?
KN: New Delhi, India.
DA: DA MAN magazine is based in Indonesia, have you ever visited, say Bali?
KN: I never have, but I have heard it is a beautiful place with beautiful people. And I like beautiful places with beautiful people, so I plan to experience Indonesia firsthand this summer.
DA: Would you call yourself a fashion-forward gent?
KN: I would call myself a ‘fashion-aware’ gent.
DA: What does fashion mean to you?
KN: I love fashion. For me, it’s not so much what someone is wearing, it’s how they are wearing it. I saw George Clooney in blue jeans and a white T-shirt, he looked so cool he could have walked the red carpet. I want to look like that.
DA: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
DA: What is your present state of mind?
KN: Cautiously Optimistic.
DA: What is your idea of happiness?
KN: Having someone who will hold your hand and rub your back when you’re sick. Knowing that I have those people in my life, makes me happy.
DA: On The Big Bang Theory you play a particle astrophysicist; did you ever study any of that stuff in school?
KN: I did. I don’t remember any of it.
DA: What hobbies, sports did you do growing up? And what about now?
KN: Badminton, Basketball. I still play basketball, and of course ping pong.
DA: Who is your role model? And how has she or he inspired you?
KN: My parents. They taught me that no matter what your social status, your sexual orientation or your religious views are, everyone is created equal and deserves respect. That one lesson has gotten me this far. Without it, I would have failed at life a long time ago.
DA: What other projects are you working on over the next year or two?
KN: A few. None of which I can talk about. I know. It sounds so exclusive. It’s not. It’s just better to not say anything until papers are signed and things are official.
DA: Is there a Season 4 planned for The Big Bang Theory?
KN: Hells Yeah! And many more to come hopefully…
DA: What can we expect for the Season 3 finale?
KN: I have no idea. I can only imagine it’s going to be epic.
PHOTOGRAPHY Mitchell Nguyen McCormack
FASHION STYLIST Marc Sifuentes
INTERVIEW by Dino Moriartie
GROOMING Barbara Guillaume at Exclusive Artists using Bumble & Bumble and Sharps Barber products
SHOT ON LOCATION The Andaz West Hollywood (andaz.com)
SHARE THIS ARTICLE