The Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar Talks Hip-Hop, Nerd Culture and Hosting The Late Late Show

Filling in for Craig Ferguson this week


Who Kunal Nayyar

Age 33

Claim to fame Stars as Raj on The Big Bang Theory (Thursdays, 8 p.m. on CBS); guest host of CBS' The Late Late Show from Feb. 25-27

Base Los Angeles

Twitter @kunalnayyar

What's the first information you consume in the morning?

The first thing I do when I wake up is go on Twitter because that's where I get all my news. I follow MSNBC Breaking News, BBC World, Times of India, CNN, HLN, Al Jazeera, ESPN News.

Do you follow other actors or comedians on Twitter?

I don't follow a lot of comedians on Twitter, to be honest. I try to keep my feed focused on news. I do follow some people on Instagram, like The Fat Jew, who I think is really hilarious. But I mainly follow puppy stuff, like The Dogist, cute puppies, animal videos, things like that.

You're guest hosting three episodes of The Late Late Show this week. Did Craig Ferguson give you any advice to help you prepare?

The last time I was on Ferguson—I was one of the last guests he had—I told him that I was going to guest host the show and asked him, "What advice do you have?" And he said, "Don't do it even if they want you to." I had no idea what that means! But I think what he was trying to say was just trust your instincts no matter what everybody tells you to do.

Do you watch a lot of late-night TV?

I love most talk shows, to be honest. I watch Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon and Craig Ferguson, and I love watching Ellen on daytime TV.

What other TV shows do you watch?

I love Homeland and Game of Thrones. The next show on my list is Transparent, which everyone is saying is phenomenal. I'm a huge old, multicamera sitcom fan. I love watching reruns of Two and a Half Men, That '70s Show, How I Met Your Mother, Friends.

What's on your reading list?

I just finished reading a book called An Equal Music by Vikram Seth. It's about a British musical quartet. It's romantic and musical and heartbreaking, and it's set in Vienna and England, and it just makes you want to live in Europe and play cello.

Since you play an astrophysicist on The Big Bang Theory, do you have to read up on science so you know what your character is talking about?

No, I don't have a lot of time to actually study astrophysics. But we have a real-life resident scientist, Dr. David Saltzberg, on Big Bang. We can't get anything wrong, even if it's just an equation on a blackboard, because the second we do, we'll have the Internet police on us. People will say that we're making fun of nerds or whatever, but the truth is that we're also celebrating nerd culture, and that means we need to get all these things right.

What kind of music do you listen to?

I love vintage hip-hop, so I listen to 93.5 [KDAY radio in Los Angeles] a lot in the car. Missy Elliott at the Super Bowl was like my dream come true. But then I also have this super cheesy side. I love Jason Mraz. So I'll go from listening to emo, singer-songwriter stuff to just dirty, dirty Southern hip-hop.