Nayyar spoke to theater students and fans during visit to Temple University
by Logan Beck
Temple’s Tomlinson Theater filled with students holding the same book, Yes, My Accent is Real in their hand, anxious to hear from the author and earn their own personally-signed copy.
Alumnus Kunal Nayyar, star of CBS’s The Big Bang Theory, returned to Temple on Friday, October 9 to speak to students, faculty and staff. Nayyar received a master of fine arts degree in acting from Temple University in 2006.
A graduate of the School of Theater, Film and Media Arts, Nayar received the 2015 TFMA Gallery of Success Award this fall. Nayyar is also a generous supporter of the Department of Theater; he established the Kunal Nayyar & Neha Kapur Scholarship for undergraduate students pursuing acting in 2013. He recently announced he will be doubling the scholarship.
In a relaxed, conversational Q & A session, Nayyar discussed a wide range of topics, including his experiences at Temple, addressing stereotypes, and performing on television.
Nayyar remarked on the quality of talent at Temple and credits a lot of his success to his time at Temple. “I think this is one of the greatest theater programs in the country,” he said.
Nayyar said that his time at Temple gave him the discipline to listen to the other actors while on stage.
“Acting is acting: you just have to listen,” Nayyar said. “The greatest actors in the world, they listen.”
A student in the audience asked Nayyar how he combatted stereotypes in the industry, being an Indian actor, but Nayyar said he ignores them as much as possible.
“I pay attention to how I can be successful, rather than get into a discussion about stereotypes,” he said. “I just don’t think about it. I show up to work and do my job.”
For Nayyar, filming The Big Bang Theory presented some challenges at first; he had to learn how to make more subtle movements for television instead of the broad movements suitable for theater, particularly with physical comedy.
According to Nayyar, his pre-show ritual is to take a 30-minute nap before filming in front of the live audience. A typical week on the show consists of read-through and rehearsals on set, before shooting pre-taped scenes on Monday and the rest live on Tuesday evening.
When asked about working with a dog on the show, Nayyar broke the news to the audience.
“There are actually two dogs,” he said. “It’s like the Olsen twins. Whoever is less sleepy gets put in the scene.”
Nayyar also discussed the importance of understanding the industry, and staying well-versed in current shows and productions.
“I hate it when actors are like ‘I don’t watch TV, I don’t watch movies,’” Nayyar said. “What, are you a stockbroker who doesn't pay attention to the market?”
As for advice, Nayyar kept it simple: “Audition for everything. This moment’s not coming back, use it.”