The Big Bang Theory‘s Kunal Nayyar has said he hopes to ‘break the barrier’ of his previous acting work with his role as the latest suspect in Netflix crime series Criminal.

Many fans will recognise Nayyar as the loveably innocent Rag Koothrappali, but now he’s stepping away from the light-hearted world of sitcom to play Sandeep Singh, a cold and calculating killer.

The actor has said he wanted the project that followed his Big Bang days was worlds apart from the comedy he’d become famous for, with hopes that it will help his career progress into a new direction.

Speaking to the Metro, Nayyar said the decision to take on a more severe role was ‘definitely’ deliberate, explaining: “It came at the right time. It was definitely what I wanted to do.

Kunal Nayyar is a chilling-bone killer in Netflix's Criminal
Kunal Nayyar is a chilling-bone killer in Netflix’s Criminal

“Also physically, I’m so recognisable from my voice, I’m so recognisable from my face… it was important to do something that completely breaks the barrier.”

He continued: “I still have some mannerisms of Raj. Just as I have some mannerisms of this character, but I wanted to make sure that whatever I did next was like, ‘Wait, who is this? Oh My God. Is that the guy from The Big Bang?!’, as opposed to ‘Oh there’s Raj, playing a killer’.

“I hope if there’s anything that can be taken away from this is that that’s what I would have achieved – that the first instance is ‘Wow, they’re so different!'”

Nayyar said he reached out to producers of Criminal after enjoying episodes led by David Tennant, having met with a casting director for another project who tipped him off about the show.

Part of Netflix's Criminal cast includes also Game Of Thrones beloved star Kit Harington
Part of Netflix’s Criminal cast includes also Game Of Thrones beloved star Kit Harington

Having worked with Nayyar before in a ‘dramatic play’ and knowing what he was capable of, the casting director told him there was a part that could be a perfect fit.

He went away and watched the first season, before firing out an email to make it happen.

“People on television have only known me as Raj from Big Bang,” Nayyar added.

“But obviously, this person has known me and seen me act in a variety of myriad of other things.”


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The first series of Criminal was released at the end of last year, promising a ‘revolutionary’ take on the crime genre by exploring how drama plays out within the intense setting of a police interview room – which acted as the only backdrop for the entire series.

The new season is also set almost entirely in an interrogation room, with each episode focusing on a different suspect.

Along with Nayyar portraying a criminal who plays mind games with detectives as he seeks an early release, the four-part series will also star the likes of Kit Harington, Sophie Okonedo, and Sharon Horgan.

Season two of Criminal is available to watch on Netflix now.


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