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BBT's Kunal Nayyar & Simon Helberg talk to CTV + JP on Martha Stewart with mum + comercials

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Kunal Nayyar says Penny is the smartest on 'Big Bang Theory'

Around women, Raj isn’t the chattiest kind of guy. But on “The Big Bang Theory,” with a couple drinks in him, Raj becomes a lothario of the highest caliber.

Raj is brought to life by actor Kunal Nayyar, and spoke at length to CTV.ca about who he thinks is the smartest character on the series, how success has changed his life, and if he’d ever work in India.
 
On the smartest character on the show:

“Sheldon is, I think, the most knowledgeable.  To be honest, I really think Penny's the smartest.  I know she's not one of
the guys, but… these guys can't put an IKEA bed together.  It would take some seven hours because they're trying to figure out the best way to do it, when Penny can! I just think Penny is very resourceful, whereas these guys are not.  But I think Sheldon is the most knowledgeable.  He's like a superhero.  He can do everything.  Seriously, every episode, he's doing something new.”
 
On Raj getting drunk:

“I love the aspect that that's his obstacle to talk to girls.  I think that's just a really cool idea.  But at the same time, I never look at the script and say, ‘Oh, man, I wish I was speaking in this scene’ or, ‘Because I'm not drinking, I can't do this.’  I always say, like, any championship team needs a really strong and deep bench, you know, or really good reserve players.  I always say, ‘Listen, if I'm going to be the leading scorer or if I'm going to be the sixth man, I don't care.  I'll do anything.’ I love these guys, and I love the show, so just bring it on.”
 
On how success has changed his life:
 
“The good thing is it's just nice to be recognized for your work.  And I love our fans.  They're so passionate and so respectful and kind and lovely and generous.  But there are certain things you can't do as easily.”

“I have to be on Facebook under a fake name, you know.  I can't just get onto an airplane and fly anywhere I want to now without considering certain things, like logistics, like security or -- you know, I can't just go to Comic-Con on my own, check out the comics.”
 
On why he thinks the show is popular:
 
“It's funny.  To be completely blunt, it's the writing.  I think the writing is so good -- the one reason I think it transcends cultures -- that's why it's so big in other cultures as well – is that people fall in love with these characters; right? A lot of things that have happened is people have fallen in love with these characters because, I think, these characters have no malice.  There's no agenda with them.  They're very innocent.  Even when they lie to each other, they're such bad liars because they don't have a bad bone in their body.  And I think that's very endearing to people who watch the show all over the world, you know.  And the writing is just really good.”
 
Does India watch the show? Is he a star there?
 
“Yeah, they do.  It runs five times a week, twice a day, actually, on the cable network. See, India is such a big subcontinent, and Bollywood is such a big part of the world that I think I have a very small place in that world. Also, it runs on cable on the Warner Bros. sitcom channel, so I think the people that watch that is a very small circle of people, you know, comparing to the mass of people in India.  So in that circle, yes.  In the circle that I run in, in India, yes.  But, I mean, if you considered the mass of people, probably not.”
 
What kind of nerd does he consider himself to be:
 
“A lot of things.  I'd say I'm sort of obsessed with video games.  That's pretty nerdy of me, although I'm not playing, like, Final Fantasy or anything.  I'm playing, like, Madden and NBA basketball and FIFA Soccer.  I think in my perfect world, I'd be an athlete.  So I just take it out on the video games.  Yesterday I played four hours.  We were on holiday, and I played four hours because I was in the playoffs in a basketball game andI wanted to win. And I was obsessive.  I was like -- I'm screaming at the television.  I'm like, ‘What is happening to me?’  I think I'm going to turn in my Sony PS3 after the season ends because I have to get some stuff done this summer, and I wouldn't be able to.”
 
 
Other projects he'd like to do as an actor:

“You know, I think it will be fun – I think it will be fun to really do something that's gritty, that's not Raj.  You know, as an actor, it's like, ‘Oh, you know, I want to win an Oscar, and I want to be known as a movie star for my work.’  And so, of course, I'm young, and I'm up and coming, so I want to play, like, a cop or a serial killer or something to show people that I can really -- because I think sitcom actors get a bad rap.  They're like, ‘Uh.’  I went to grad school, got a master's in acting, went to the Royal Shakespeare Company in England at Stratford, and then came back and did ’Big Bang Theory.’  So I'm a theater guy.  We're all theater geeks.  So it would be fun to sort of do something gritty, but we'll see.”
 
Does he want to work in India someday?
 
“Oh, a hundred percent, yeah.  I grew up in India.  I'm Indian.  I was born in London, but I'm Indian… I think in America, I think Hollywood is not there yet where I could believably play a lead character in a movie, like a love romance for Halle Berry or something.  I don't think we're there. But in India I can -- when I'm in India, I don't have to answer the question why I'm Indian.  I think in Hollywood if I was to play a lead role in a move, you always have to answer that question, I think.  So in Bollywood I could be anything.  I could be a cop, a serial killer.  I don't have to worry about being too character-y.  I can just play a leading man.  So yeah, I think eventually.  Eventually I'd like to work everywhere.”
 
Responding to online reaction of the show:
 
“In the beginning I would.  And I had to stop because, you know, it's all well when everyone is loving it, but you might have one 14-year-old kid in the basement in some tiny place say something really mean.  And no matter what it is -- like I think I read something about -- a thread, something like, you know, ‘I hate Raj.’  So out of a hundred and -- whatever, thousand comments that love the show, there was one thread that says, ‘I hate Raj.’  And there was, like, three or four people that said, ‘Yeah, yeah, he's so stupid.  He only has one or two lines.  They should cut him from the show.’  But it was, like, three or four people out of -- now it's, like, 16 and a half million… people will write stuff, and you want to stay away from that because it can ruin your day.  Then you think, ‘Why are you being malicious towards me?  You don't know me and all the hard work I had to put in to get on the show.’  You start wanting to fight these guys because they're attacking your morals or your values… so I just stopped.”

“I felt like I had to defend my character or something, and then I thought, ‘What if someone finds out this is me or something?’  That's just stupid, so I -- as I'm getting older, I can't be liked by everyone.  I'm in the spotlight.  People are not going to like me for various reasons.  I don't even know.  I think I'm adorable.”
 
His family's reaction to his success:

“They always supported me.  They never cared.  When I decided – I have a bachelor's in business administration.  I have a master's in acting.  So when I told them, ‘Yeah, I'm getting my BA in marketing, but I think I'm going to become an actor,’ you know, they never -- they always just -- they said, ‘Listen, just be educated and focus on being a good person; and the rest, we don't care.’”



Simon Helberg gets  serious on 'The Big Bang Theory'

Last year, this actor took a break from math problems to ponder more spiritual questions.

While still doing his regular gig on as Howard Wolowitz on “The Big Bang Theory,” Helberg appeared in the Coen brothers’ Oscar nominated film “A Serious Man” as Rabbi Scott Ginzler.

When Helberg first got the call to audition for the role, he remembers “I almost had a heart attack. I was through the moon.  They're my heroes.”

“So I auditioned for them, and nine months later I got the part.  And three months after that, I shot the movie.  So it was a year process, nine months of not knowing, then getting word that, you know, they liked me.  They were editing ‘No Country for Old Men’ and they were in preproduction for ‘Burn After Reading.’  So they weren't even positive they were going to make it. So it was a nail-biting experience.”

According to Helberg, the Coen brothers had never seen any of “The Big Bang Theory.”

“They don't watch TV, and I think they are sincere about it.  I don't think it's a pretentious thing.  I won't name names, but I've heard stories about huge, huge TV stars going in for them and them kind of being like, ‘Oh, he was pretty good.’  And then the casting director is like, ‘Yeah, but you didn't want to use a name for that part.’  And they'll say, ‘Who was that?,’” says Helberg.

“At one point I was actually nervous that they might not want me because of this.  But this was the second season of our show, the beginning of it.  So it wasn't as big, I guess. They intentionally didn't want names or recognizable faces, although Richard Kind was in the movie, and he's been on a ton of sitcoms. But he's not at the moment.  So I just thought, ‘Oh, God, what if they, you know, see an advertisement for our show and they think, 'Oh, he's on a show.  We want someone who no one's ever seen'?’  But thank God they hadn't seen the show, and I got to play that part.”

Despite playing a Rabbi, Helberg says he’s not a religious person, and doesn’t really see Wolowitz that way either.

“I was raised Jewish and had a bar mitzvah, and I'm definitely more reformed and confused maybe. It's something that I would try not to even associate the character on the show being the Jewish guy because I think they've added so many wonderful layers to him.  And of course, you are what you are. I think they've done a good job kind of shining a lot of light on sort of the humanity of these eccentric characters.”

When it comes to Wolowitz’s eccentric wardrobe, some of his fashion choices are inspired by Helberg’s own personal style.

“It's funny because I used to sort of like have shaggy, Beatlesy hair.  And that was cool, I thought.  And then I went into the audition, and they were like, ‘Oh, my God, and your hair, it was perfect. It was so nerdy.  Like, keep it like that.’ That's happened quite a bit to me where I'll be playing a nerd, and they're like, ‘What about those pants you wore to the audition?’  When I would leave the studio and just look the same, I started to feel like… I didn't look quite as drastic. They flat-iron it, and it looks more like Moe Howard as opposed to John Lennon, hopefully.  So I've embraced it.  I enjoy looking kind of as bad as I possibly can,” says Helberg.

Helberg also credits his appearance on a successful sitcom like “The Big Bang Theory” as a dream come true. He remembers growing up and rushing through his homework in order to watch programs like “Family Ties,” “Growing Pains,” “Who’s the Boss,” “Golden Girls” and “Rosanne.”

The actors says because of his “Rosanne” fandom, it was intimidating first meeting his co-star, Johnny Galecki, who previously appeared on the sitcom.

“I always remember thinking he was really cool on ‘Roseanne.’ I related a lot to his character… I always thought he had such cool hair.  It was always, like, curly, in his face. And I was like, ‘Man, I wish I had that curly, cool hair.’ I was a vain kid.  But yeah, no, so that was -- it was really exciting.  And I recently – like right after I met him, I found this thing from when I was, like, 11 that I had to list my five favorite shows. And
‘Roseanne’ was number one. So it is surreal,” says Helberg.

“The Big Bang Theory” also stars Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, and Kunal Nayyar. The half-hour series airs Monday nights on CTV, with full episodes available online at CTV.ca.

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Jim Parsons on Martha Stewart with his mother


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JP in a Fed EX comercial:



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JP in an Arby's ad:



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JP in a Quiznos comercial


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Simon Helberg in Sprite comercial


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note to mods: lj cuts added

Tags: television, the big bang theory (cbs)
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