April 30, 1981
London, England, United Kingdom
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Actor Kunal Nayyar possessed a natural ability to play extremely nerdy yet lovable characters. While still a relative newcomer in Hollywood, he landed a lead role on the popular sitcom "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS, 2007- ), as painfully shy physicist Raj Koothrappali. The series was an instant success and provided Nayyar with the perfect opportunity to showcase his comedic chops.Kunal Nayyar was born on April 30, 1981 in London, England, and spent most of his childhood in New Delhi, India. He began acting in local productions and musicals at a young age and carried that interest all throughout college. His parents supported his dreams of becoming an actor, as long as Nayyar had a back-up plan. At 18, Nayyar moved to the United States and majored in business at the University of Portland in Oregon, where he also took numerous acting classes. His performance in the play, "The Rose Tattoo" (2003), earned him an invitation to compete in the American College Theater Festival, where he won the Mark Twain Award for comedy and a fellowship to the famed Sundance Theater Lab. Nayyar then earned a masters degree in fine arts from Templeton University in Philadelphia, PA. Shortly after, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting full time.In between auditions, Nayyar co-wrote the critically acclaimed play, "Cotton Candy" (2005), about two guys sitting on a couch discussing their perspectives on drugs and sex in conservative India. In 2007, Nayyar landed a small part on the drama series "NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service" (CBS, 2003- ) as a terrorist. That same year, he was cast on "The Big Bang Theory," as one of four science nerds played by Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons and Simon Helberg. While they were exceptionally brilliant with algorithms, the foursome struggled in most social situations, particularly those involving dating. Nayyar played Raj Koothrappali, a sweater vest-wearing physicist who initially had a crippling inability to talk to women unless drunk. The show's success brought Nayyar more widespread opportunities, including voice roles in the film "Ice Age: Continental Drift" (2012) and the animated series "Sanjay and Craig" (Nickelodeon 2013- ). In 2015, he published the memoir Yes, My Accent Is Real. The following year, he landed his first film lead, in the crime drama "A Momentary Lapse of Reason" (2016).