New Delhi: Yes, he does play an astrophysicist, a pathological geek obsessed with gizmos and "Star Wars" movies in "The Big Bang Theory" but essaying a lovable character on a hit TV series has its own perils as actor Kunal Nayyar's intellect is often challenged by fans, who approach him with "smart" questions.
The 34-year-old Indian-origin actor has opened up about his personal life and experiences of playing the popular character Raj Koothrappali in his latest autobiography "Yes, My Accent Is Real: And Some Other Things I Haven't Told You", published by Atria Books.
He shares how during his frequent encounters with eager followers of the American sit-com, he faces uncomfortable situations when people confuse him with his on-screen persona and he is caught off-guard with questions like "What is Higgs boson particle".
Nayyar sets the record straight that he is "not an astrophysicist" but admits that this confession is followed by a pall of gloom on the fans' faces.
"Sometimes fans of the show will approach me and they will want me to be smart. It is always awkward when I let them down gently and explain that, in fact, I am only an actor who is playing an astrophysicist. This just crushes some people. They want me to be Raj," Nayyar writes.
"One guy asked me, "Hey, what do you think about the Higgs boson particle? Now we can prove that dark matters exists!"
"'I am sorry, I don't speak English very well, I'm with you, I said'. The only smart thing I know is that eight glasses of water a day is too much water," the actor says.
His South Indian character on the show suffers from selective mutism, a psychological disorder which prevented him from speaking to or around non-related women initially. The only way he could overcome that was in a state of complete inebriation.
"For me, the real problem with my character having selective mutism on "The Big Bang Theory" is that it has meant Raj has to drink so much alcohol. When I drink those grasshopper "martinis," they're actually made from water, cream, and a heavy splash of green food coloring. After a tape night, I literally poop green for like, three days," he jokes.
Nayyar claims before he came on-board the show, he had no idea that there is such a thing as pathological shyness, which is a diagnosed psychological condition and can lead to selective mutism.
"I've received heart-warming letters from parents of children suffering from the condition, and who said, "Thank You for being the voice of selective mutism." (And the irony of that statement was not lost to me).
Being part of a show for as long as eight seasons, playing the same character episodes-after-episodes sounds taxing to many but for not Nayyar.
The actor admits he is a complete "fanboy" of the show and every Tuesday night when the cast gets the new script feels like a "Christmas morning" to him.
"I'm as big a fan of the show as anybody you'll ever meet. I love 'Big Bang'. I love playing Raj... Whenever I get a new script, I can't wait to tear it open and see what our writers have in store for us," he says.
It was not until the end of season three that people took note of Nayyar's character on the show, which sees Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki in prominent roles of Sheldon Cooper, Penny and Leonard, respectively.
The actor says one important aspect that makes him love his job is being able to reach his fans in their living rooms. The feeling that people know him inside out without actually meeting him, gives him a boost.
"When a show plays in a family's living room several times a week, it's part of family time between parents and kids and cousins and grandparents. So when people see me walking on the street, they feel like we're old pals. Women pull my cheeks and men clap me on the shoulder," Nayyar writes.