Interview with Kunal Nayyar

Kunal Nayyar is known for his role of Rajesh Koothrappali on the hit show “The Big Bang Theory”. Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Kunal about his role in the show.

Mike Gencarelli: How did you originally get the role of Rajesh Koothrappali on “The Big Bang Theory”?
Kunal Nayyar: I auditioned for the part during pilot season in 2007. They were looking for a first generation American that was of Indian decent. But they were also looking at other ethnicities as well Chinese or Japanese. It didn’t have to be Indian even though the guys name was Koothrappali. So when I went in there, I am from New Delhi, so I wanted to bring that side of me. I used my original accent that I have and I sort of cultivated it from some of my cousins in India. It worked out and they liked it from the beginning.

MG: What did you originally think of your character especially since you were oft-silent in the first season?
KN: When I read the pilot, I thought it was great. I thought it was not ethnically specific. The character was just a very smart guy who suffers from pathological shyness, selective mutism. I thought that it was really cool that I got to that much physical comedy on a sitcom. Usually multi-camera shows are about the language and our writers are so good. I thought it would be fun because I would get to improvise physically and show my creative side as well.

MG: Even though you may not talk a lot you have some great liners, is any of that improv?
KN: Whatever is written on the page is just the way it is. The writing is incredible, they are such experts. I would never want to try and change what they have. We improv physically and try different facial expressions, for example. The words definitely stay the same.

MG: Do you have a favorite episode from any particular season?
KN: Oh man there is so many. I would have to say one of the classics for me was the first time I got to speak to Penny. That was episode eight in the first season. I was drinking the grasshopper and I got to talk to her. I thought it was really great to learn so much about the character. That will always go down for me as one of the classics. I feel like every episode something comes up and I am like “Oh my God, that is brilliant, I am going to remember that forever”. Now we are over 80 episodes so it gets a little blurred together.

MG: What is the hardest part for you working on the show?
KN: I don’t want to sound like falsely positive but there really is nothing. There is nothing hard about working on the show, especially now since we are in the fourth season. In the beginning, of course you are trying to prove yourself and everyone is trying to get to know each other and walking on eggshells. Now we are such a family and we know each other so well. The show works like clockwork. I am very blessed not only to be working with an incredible crew and writing staff but great actors. The five of us, we work very hard to make this show what it is. We have a lot of fun but seriously when it is time to work…we work and work really hard. I really love that and I hope that it continues for the rest of the run of the show. It is the one of the main reasons of our success.

MG: What can you tell us about what you character has in store for the rest of season four?
KN: These guys don’t really have much room for personal growth. They are pretty similar and straight in there ways. The on-going relationship that Howard has with Bernadette continues to make Rajesh more and more jealous. As well as more and more lonely. He gets a little more desperate about finding girls. At some point he may even begin dreaming about other peoples significant others. He starts living fantasies with other peoples girlfriends. I guess that is all I can giveaway.

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