EXCLUSIVE: Kunal Nayyar Speaks on "Surreal" Big Bang Theory Renewal

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Kunal Nayyar has been a past of The Big Bang Theory cast from the start, cracking us up as Raj Koothrappali.

So you can only imagine how he felt to hear that the CBS sitcom was recently renewed... for THREE seasons! Actually, you don't need to imagine. We chatted with Nayyar this week and that was one of many topics the actor discussed...

Kunal Nayyar Promo Pic

There must be no living with Jim Parsons these days. Have they widened the doors and hallways to make room for his enlarged head?  Does he make you call him Mr. Parsons now and walk three steps behind him at all times?
[Laughs] He’s taken everyone’s parking spot because he comes in a limo. We can’t look at him in the eye when we talk to him and we all have to call him Mr. Parsons at all times. He has 17 bodyguards, so there’s not even enough room for us all to walk.

How did it feel to get picked up for three seasons at once?
It felt surreal. This whole ride has been very surreal for me. I always feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience. It’s like I’m looking at myself from the outside, and thinking ‘that guy is so cool, he must feel so amazing and his life must be crazy’. But it’s me! I’m a dork, and my life hasn’t changed much. I find myself constantly thinking that I can’t be this lucky and it has to end at some point. I keep pinching myself. I feel so humbled and blessed. We all really just feel humbled by all of this success and grateful that we all get along. There’s a lot of love on the show and it’s even more fun than it was before.

The writers often toss out a lot of un-PC, stereotypical jokes regarding Raj's racial heritage.  Is there ever any concern or trepidation over how these jokes come off?
No. It’s funny because people say: I think the jokes are so cleverly written. It’s like, ‘well you could go to India and die of Amoebic Dysentery’, which is funny because 95% of all India does have Amoebic Dysentery. We’re all just born with it, it’s in our blood stream. The funny thing is, people say Raj is such a stereotype, but he’s not really. He hates Indian food. If the stereotype is that he’s smart, then that’s a great stereotype to have.

There’s never a moment where things have crossed the line, everything is done tastefully. Raj makes fun of America, too, if you remember. He talks about the morbid obesity, so it goes both ways. We make fun of a lot of things, women and men, geeks and beautiful people. It never crosses the line in my opinion.

Raj's fear of beautiful women has been a problem for a while now.  Any chance we'll soon see Raj comfortable enough to converse with at least Penny without using liquid courage?
[Laughs] That’s a very good question, and it’s a question I have myself. The writers are so amazing at what they do, and I’m sure they’ve thought about it and have some sort of a plan, or maybe they don’t. When the time is right, something will come up. Maybe it will be in the season 10 finale, it’ll just be Raj speaking for the whole episode.

Raj recently mentioned having a girlfriend. Will we meet her in the near future, or see Raj find love with someone else?
I know they mentioned having a relationship with someone. I don’t know. Of course, to have a relationship with a woman he would really need to be able to talk to her, I would imagine. At least if it’s going to be a relationship with some substance. I enjoy having the obstacle of not being able to find love. I think in playing those obstacles I discover a lot of comedy. I find if a character begins to succeed at something that was an obstacle, than that character can become less funny, because then what are they fighting against? I enjoy having this in the way. Raj is always lonely; he’s always leaning on Howard to be the husband in their bromance of a relationship.

It is a comedy, so mostly people come for the laughs, but what can you tell us about Raj's growth over the rest of the season and the direction you'd like to see his character's story take?
I think that, predominantly, these characters don’t have room for much personal growth. These guys are very set in their ways, very comfortable in their world. Except for Leonard, who’s constantly trying to reach out into the real world or grasp basic understand of social relationships in the real world. The rest of the guys, they don’t change much, so I don’t see Raj growing much as a person.

What can we look forward to in the rest of the season?
Leonard has begun to date Raj’s sister, so that will be an interesting turn to see if they continue to date. They’ve been dating for two episodes now and obviously Raj is not happy. It’ll be interesting to see how far they take and if/when they do break up, how that affects Raj’s relationship with Leonard and also with his sister. There’s some interesting stuff that’s about to happen in the next 8 episodes that we still have to shoot. There could be a love triangle finale, but I’m just talking out of my behind. You will see the return of Raj’s sister for a few episodes.

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TBBT Quotes

Leonard: Hi. I'm Leonard. You are beautiful. You pop, sparkle and buzz electric. I'm going to pick you up at eight, show you a night you will never forget.
Raj: Where are we going?

[Raj whispers in Wolowitz's ear]
Penny: What did he say?
Wolowitz: He compared Sheldon to a disposable feminine cleansing product one might use on a summer's eve.
Penny: Yeah, and the bag it came in