It would be easy for the stars of The Big Bang Theory to rest on their ratings laurels (in its sixth season, the CBS comedy has delivered best ever ratings, positioning it as the likely new number one show on TV) and spend off hours getting fanned with a palm frawn.
But across the board, each actor is using their primetime power to fuel passion projects, the latest being Beyond All Boundaries, a feature film Kunal Nayyar is attempting to finish funding through Kickstarter.
Boundaries, which is seeking backing to finish editing and procure some essential archival footage, tells the stories of 3 Indians -- a penniless superfan, a boy prodigy, and a girl cricketer -- during the 2011 Cricket World Cup. ETonline caught up with Nayyar to find out why this is such a passion project, how his Big Bang Theory cast has helped out and what you can expect from upcoming episodes!
ETonline: How has the Kickstarter experience been for you?
Kunal Nayyar: I thought it was going to be a little easier to raise the money, but it's hard to get millionaires to put money into movies, so you can imagine what it's like to try and get money from average income families, which is what Kickstarter does. But I understand, you're putting money into something you have no control over, which is obviously a difficult thing. It's been a very good learning experience.
ETonline: What initially attracted you to the story in Beyond All Boundaries?
Nayyar: I grew up in India; my entire family is there, so I know these people because I grew up with these people. I know how difficult life can be and how cricket is a way of life in India. A lot of people's hopes and dreams are based on how the India Cricket Team is doing. These are the stories I was surrounded by growing up, but I think everyone can relate because we're all looking for a saving grace.
ETonline: What would it mean to have this movie fully funded?
Nayyar: It would be a dream because it would mean that we didn't do this alone and that people you don't even know are looking out for you. People who donate, their heart becomes a part of this movie.
ETonline: And it's so cool that your Big Bang Theory co-stars have been very proactive in promoting the Kickstarter campaign.
Nayyar: Everyone's been amazing. This is my first TV show and I think I've been spoiled for life. I came out of graduate school at The Royal Shakespeare Company and the theater world is very incestuous because you spend all your time together and that sense of community is really prevalent. Every actor will always say their cast is the closest, but I really do feel like we are. We have this sense of having been on this ride together; we made it through the writer's strike and all the timeslot changes. You really can't really teach chemistry, but if everyone shows up to work super prepared except for one person, everyone's destroyed. We've never had that. We all take this show seriously and more than chemistry and community and loving each other, our passion for making the best show possible is what binds us.
ETonline: Given that, what's it been like on-set with the show getting such insanely high ratings lately?
Nayyar: It's hard to grasp, it just seems so unreal -- like it's happening to someone else. I know when it's all over, I'll look back and realize it did happen to me. But mostly I'm just so thankful for all of it.
ETonline: This has been a big season for your character. Would you say that Raj has become a functioning alcoholic in his quest to balance drinking and talking to women?
Nayyar: [laughs] I don't know if it's the best way to function, but I think he's found out a couple of sips works to talk to women. It's been really fun having Kate Micucci on the show for the next few episodes as a possible love interest for Raj. It's been a long time coming for him. To play the gamut of emotions, from love to heartbreak to vulnerability, has been enjoyable. I love Raj so much, so I love that he's being rewarded with a chance at love because I think he deserves it.
ETonline: What's more likely to happen: Raj gets a girlfriend or Amy and Sheldon consummate their relationship?
Nayyar: In both circumstances it won't go well [laughs]. I can't say whether or not either actually happens, but it won't go well no matter what. That's the beauty of the show; even when things go well, the characters stumble across the finish line.
ETonline: Looking at what's coming up this season, what are you excited for the fans to see?
Nayyar: These characters are getting older. We can't ignore the hands of time, so maybe six years ago things like settling down weren't that important. But now, that is becoming important. It's great to watch these characters wrestle with maturing and building a family and finding love versus finding material things. When they lifted their heads up from the video games and looked at the world, we've seen them mature as people as they leave their comfort zones. It's been such an exciting season.
The Big Bang Theory airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on CBS, and to donate to Beyond All Boundaries, click here!