Most of us can guess how awesome it would be to act on a popular television show. You’d make lots of money, have strangers recognize you and praise the show you’re a part of (and you), people would hang on your every word and give you free stuff that regular people could never even afford. Actually, most of that sounds like it could turn the best of people into douchebags. Well, Kunal Nayyar (who plays Raj on CBS’ The Big Bang Theory) once got some very important advice about fame from a Friends cast member.
While speaking with Glamour magazine at the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards over the weekend, Kunal Nayyar revealed that a conversation with Friends actor Matt LeBlanc came with this mighty good lesson on how to navigate fame.
He told me that the journey is crazy, the journey is long, and everybody's going to want something from you, [but] just keep your sanity and stay grounded.
The Big Bang Theory has been on for nine seasons. The amount of obvious ass-kissing that the stars of the show have had to endure would probably make most non-actors curious about what it would be like to have folks hang on your every word, even if you knew the attention didn’t really have to do with you, as a person. Kunal Nayyar didn’t say if he talked with Matt LeBlanc at the beginning of his The Big Bang Theory career or not, but that kind of guidance would be good at any point in an actor’s profession.
The idea that the road of TV fame is crazy makes total sense. Actors never know if a project they’re involved in is going to make an impact with people, so the idea of having something blow up and become a big deal must be thrilling. But, also, it would be kind of scary to suddenly be thrust into the spotlight. And, every time a new fame-related advantage came along you’d always wonder if it’s because you earned it or if your fame earned it for you.
Matt LeBlanc also told Kunal Nayyar that the road of fame is long. I can imagine that he was talking about the constant pull of people around you to keep the fame flowing, or of keeping fans happy when you’re going about your daily life and get recognized. Actors typically help out quite a few people when they start to make good money: managers, publicists, agents, even friends and family, so satisfying all those financial appetites would be stressful. Also, no famous person really wants to look like a dick when they get asked for autographs or photos from fans, but I can imagine that sometimes you just want to eat in peace; or you’ve had a bad day and don’t feel like engaging with anyone you don’t have to.
Matt LeBlanc is a pretty good person to get this sort of advice from. Friends was on for 10 years and is still frequently on TV in syndication today. The Friends phenomenon was widespread and has outpaced the love people have for many other popular shows of the recent past. If anyone would know about dealing with the pitfalls of sudden, all-encompassing fame, it would be him.
His counsel doesn’t note how Kunal Nayyar should stay grounded, but I’m sure that’s different for everyone. Considering that we haven’t heard of Nayyar beating anyone up in a club, abusing crew or co-stars on The Big Bang Theory set, or trying to take a monkey into a grocery story, he’s probably handling fame just fine.