Big Bang Theory star Kunal Nayyar has opened up about his incredible life in an exclusive video interview for British Airways – and told how he left home at 18 to fly to America where his acting dreams came true.
The 35-year-old is famed for making people laugh but speaking to British Airways he revealed for the first time how he and his family were in tears on the phone after he landed the life-changing role of Raj in the hit US sit-com.
Speaking to British Airways about how air travel has played a pivotal part in his life and career, he said: “My parents really inspired me to leave home. I think they found it was very good for me to grow as a human being. And I wasn’t scared as much as I was excited, to be honest. I was 18 and I was going to a new country.
“On Big Bang Theory, it took six weeks for me to find out I had got that role. So they were present throughout those six weeks every day when I was calling them freaking out. I woke them up at 3:30 in the morning. Of course, the first thing your parents do when you call them in a different country is like ‘are you ok? Are you safe – why are you calling us at this time?’
“I was like ‘Ya, ya – I’m great’ and I am just weeping, just crying, because this meant so much to me to be this kid from New Delhi, India, who made it onto the big screen. And they really thought something was wrong because I’m crying. I told them I got the role and everyone was crying at the same time. It was very special.”
Kunal now regularly flies for work and believes air travel has changed the world for the better, giving people a chance to pursue their dreams and grow their businesses. British Airways offers business customers an extensive global network and seamless connections with its airline partnerships, offering the flexibility to select the perfect flight, route and budget flying to more than 140 destinations worldwide.
Frequent flyer Kunal – who lives and works in Los Angeles, USA – also told how he finds inspiration for characters while travelling. He said: “All the time you meet people while I’m travelling and flying that inspire characters. I once met an elderly Indian gentleman once on a plane who spoke in half-sentences. That was something I later used for Raj.
“Another time I was flying and the plane took off, the lights dimmed, and the elderly gentleman in front of me stood up and completely disrobed in the aisle. I don’t think anyone saw him but I thought it was hilarious. Every time I do that now. No, I don’t – I’m joking!”
Kunal does however have his own bizarre routine during flights – combining cocktails, films and golf magazines. He confessed: “I have this whole system when I fly. I check in to the lounge, have a cocktail, get onto the flight and read golf magazines. Then we take off and I start watching a movie, I eat and then have to sleep.
“Then I go to sleep and wake up three hours before we land and I watch another movie. I have my morning tea or evening dinner, depending on where I’m flying to, and then I’m there. I have to finish the flight with a sports documentary. I don’t know why – it just makes me comfortable.”
Kunal’s show Big Bang Theory is enjoyed by British Airways passengers on flights all over the world every day. It’s currently going into its tenth season – and Kunal said when it’s over he’d like to play Doctor Who in the iconic British sci-fi TV show – although he isn’t much of a geek himself compared to his famous character Raj.
He laughed: “That’s the funny thing about all of us on the Big Bang Theory: the people we portray are not the people we are in real life. Once at Comic-Con a fan was asking about the Tardis. I asked ‘What’s the Tardis?’ And 10,000 fans just turned on me and starting booing!
“But wouldn’t that be cool if I played Doctor Who? The first Indian Doctor Who maybe after Big Bang?”
Watch the full interview below: