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Kunal Nayyar (/kʊˈnɑːl ˈn.ər/, kuu-NAHL NY-ər; born 30 April 1981) is a British-born Indian-American actor known for his role as Raj Koothrappali in the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory that aired from 2007 to 2019. Forbes listed Nayyar as the world's third highest-paid TV actor in 2015 and 2018, with earnings of US$20 million and $23.5 million, respectively.[1][2]

Kunal Nayyar
Kunal Nayyar by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Nayyar at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con
Born (1981-04-30) 30 April 1981 (age 38)
Hounslow, London, England
Alma materUniversity of Portland (BA)
Temple University (MFA)
Years active2004–present
Neha Kapur (m. 2011)

Early lifeEdit

Nayyar was born in Hounslow, London, to a Punjabi[3] family. When he was 4 years old, his family returned to India, and he grew up in New Delhi.[4] He attended St Columba's School in New Delhi, where he played badminton for the school team. His parents live in New Delhi.[5][6]

In 1999, Nayyar moved to the United States to pursue a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance from the University of Portland, Oregon.[7] He started taking acting classes and appeared in several school plays while working on his degree.[4]

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.[8]


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.[9] 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.[8] In 2006, Nayyar teamed up with Arun Das to write the play Cotton Candy, which premiered in New Delhi to positive reviews.[10]

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.[11]

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.[3]

In 2011 he co-hosted the Tribute to Nerds show with co-star Simon Helberg at the comedy festival Just for Laughs.[12]

Nayyar voiced Gupta in Ice Age: Continental Drift in 2012. During the same year he completed the shooting of his first film, Dr. Cabbie, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The film was produced by Bollywood actor Salman Khan.[13]

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.[14] The production transferred to London's West End in 2016.

Nayyar published a book about his career journey, Yes, My Accent is Real and Some Other Things I Haven’t Told You , in September 2015.[4]

He then voiced Guy Diamond in DreamWorks' animated movie Trolls, released in November 2016.

Personal lifeEdit

In December 2011, Nayyar married Neha Kapur, a model, actress, and Femina Miss India 2006.[15]



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
2014 Dr. Cabbie Tony Jean-François Pouliot
2015 Consumed Serge Negani Daryl Wein
2016 Trolls Guy Diamond Walt Dohrn & Mike Mitchell Voice
2019 Sweetness in the Belly Dr. Robin Sathi Zeresenay Berhane Mehari Post-production
2020 Trolls World Tour Guy Diamond Walt Dohrn Voice
TBA Think Like a Dog Mr. Mills Gil Junger Post-production


Year Series Role Notes
2007 NCIS Youssef Zidan Uncredited
Episode: "Suspicion"
2007–2019 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
2013–2014 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
2017 Trolls Holiday Guy Diamond TV special
2017 Drop the Mic Himself Episode: "Mayim Bialik vs. Kunal Nayyar / Ashley Tisdale vs. Nick Lachey"


Year Title Role Notes
2006 Huck and Holden Navin Dahlia Theater, Los Angeles, United States
2006 Love's Labour's Lost Other Parts Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford upon Avon, United Kingdom
2006 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


  1. ^ "The World's Highest-Paid TV Actors".
  2. ^ "Highest-Paid TV Actors 2018". Forbes. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
  3. ^ a b Banerjee, Sudeshna (7 July 2008). "Mr Big Bang". The Telegraph. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ Kapoor, Kritika (25 June 2010). "I'd rather do social movies: Kunal Nayyar". Daily News and Analysis. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  6. ^ Ahmed, Sana (28 June 2008). "Going places". The Hindu. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  7. ^ Successful Actors Talk About Their Training. Retrieved on 2012-11-17.
  8. ^ a b "Making it as a nerd". Rediff. 19 November 2007. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  9. ^ Sahgal, Natasha (16 September 2009). "Geek God". Indian Express. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  10. ^ Chander, Romesh (16 June 2006). "Staging the fluff of dreams". The Hindu. Retrieved 21 October 2011.
  11. ^ D'Arminio, Aubry (29 March 2016). "7 NCIS Guests Who Went on to Become Stars (PHOTOS)". Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ Dr. Cabbie on IMDb
  14. ^ Brantley, Ben (2 June 2015). "'Review: 'The Spoils' Stars Jesse Eisenberg as Narcissist". New York Times. Retrieved 16 June 2015.
  15. ^ "The Talk, CBS". Retrieved 3 March 2012.

External linksEdit