It’s been almost five years since The Big Bang Theory ended after 12 seasons — and now, two of its stars have reunited on another sitcom.

Kunal Nayyar, who played Raj Koothrappali on the hit comedy, guested on tonight’s episode of Night Court, which stars Melissa Rauch, who played Bernadette Rostenkowski on Big Bang for eight seasons. Nayyar received a warm welcome from Night Court’s live audience, playing British fashion designer Martini Todd Wallace (“like the drink,” his character says as he introduces himself), a love interest for Rauch’s Judge Abby Stone.

Abby and Martini immediately hit it off, thanks to an innate chemistry that they can’t quite describe. “There’s something about you that weirdly feels like… have we met before?” Abby says, referencing the actors’ shared history on their previous sitcom. Though their romance doesn’t quite work out in the end, Abby and Martini were happy to share a few moments together — but not nearly as happy as Nayyar and Rauch were to finally reunite on screen. EW spoke to Nayyar to discuss his appearance on Night Court and his relationship with Rauch.

KUNAL NAYYAR: I was a big fan of the show when it was on previously, and then when I knew Melissa was going to be doing this and it was going to get on the air, I was following the process quite closely. I had said, ‘Hey, Melissa, if this show goes, you’ve got to have me on at some point.’ When the show got going and had some success, that phone call came and she’s like, “Hey, why don’t you come and do this?” And we did it. I don’t know if it was her thinking about it, but it was definitely me forcing my way to work with Melissa. I love her so much.

What was it like being back on set with Melissa?

It was amazing. We had spent almost 12 years of our lives together every single day. And then the pandemic happened, and then everyone’s got families, and I was spending a lot of time in London and India, and I hadn’t physically been with Melissa in a while. So that whole week of rehearsal, we just kept staring at each other, sitting next to each other. There wasn’t really much to say! Being in each other’s presence was a real joy. It was almost unreal, like it was almost happening to someone else. I kept pinching myself, thinking “Are we seriously on stage right now?” That’s what it felt like.

What’s your relationship with Melissa like off-screen?

We’re very, very close. She is like a sister to me that I’ve never had. I don’t have a sister, but she’s as close as it gets. People ask me all the time, “Are you still friends with your co-stars? Are you close?” There’s a closeness that goes beyond familiarity, if that makes sense. We have a closeness that cannot be spoken about. It’s an unspoken language of deep love and deep trust and deep connection that you can only experience if you go through a journey like that together for that long period of time. So our relationship is beyond close. It’s just deeper than that. I don’t think there’s a word that can describe how it is that we all feel about each other.

How did your onset dynamic with Melissa compare to when you were on Big Bang Theory together?

Character-wise, it was obviously different because we’re playing lovers, which is funny. She’s like a sister to me, it’s adorable. But on a personal level, it’s amazing to watch Melissa. Melissa got the show together, she’s acting in it, she’s starring, and then she’s producing it. Just to watch her from afar in awe of her success and how she’s able to juggle wearing all of those hats with the writers, with the producers — she’s really at the head of the table there. And for me as a friend, as a brother, as someone who’s invested in her life, who’s invested in her career, it was a real joy for me to watch. It’s nice to watch her also step into that role of being at the head of the table, and she’s really wearing it proudly and with ease. She’s amazing.

What were your impressions of the rest of the Night Court cast?

Amazing. Having Melissa was so comforting and loving, of course, but everyone was great. India de Beaufort and Lacretta and John Larroquette, who was right next to us shooting his other sitcom for all those years. So I’ve known him for a very long time as well, and now he’s a regular on Night Court. It was a show full of laughter and joy and really a feeling of family, and I missed it. It reminded me of the Big Bang days.

How did shooting this episode compare with your experience on Big Bang Theory?

It was certainly similar performing in front of a live audience, again, and working with the writers, plus having Melissa there and a cast that is a well-oiled machine at this point. And the stages at were at Warner Brothers, so it really just felt like old days. It was a lot of fun because I don’t think the audience knew I was going to be in this episode. So when I came out and they realized it was me, it really felt like Big Bang. It really just felt like being home again.

How does your experience as a performer differ when you’re guest starring in an episode of a show, versus being a series regular?

I think there’s a formality that comes with being a guest star as opposed to Big Bang, which felt like we were working in our living room, if that makes sense. I spent more time with the Big Bang with than I did at home with my own family. So that sort of familiarity takes time to breed. When I’m a guest star on any show, whether it’s Night Court or any other, there is more of a sort of a formality and respectfulness. But I just had a great time. The cast is very welcoming and very loving and very friendly, and this kind of work really warrants a set that is surrounded by so much trust and love, and I really had a good time doing that.

Your last big TV project, Suspicion, was a thriller. How did it feel shifting back into comedy mode?

Very natural. Every job I do at every table read, I worry that I’ve forgotten how to act. I’m not sure if this is an existential crisis of every actor, but for me it definitely is. “Do I remember how to do this?” And then when you settle in, you’re like, “Oh, yeah. Yes, I do know how to do this.” There’s always the initial feeling of butterflies at that table read. You’re hoping people will laugh, or you’re hoping people will think you’re funny and you want to impress and you want to say, “Hey, you’ve made the right choice in casting me.” So those initial butterflies are always there on any project, but I’ve been doing this for so long now that I’m able to settle in quite quickly.

Are there any other plans for other Big Bang reunions in the future that you’re aware of?

Not that I’m aware of, no.



By Ivaylo Angelov

Ivaylo Angelov born in Bulgaria, Varna graduated School Geo Milev is Tvserieswelove's Soaps Editor and oversees all of the section's news, features, spoilers and interviews.