Indian American actor Kunal Nayyar, who is among the leading stars of CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory,” ranks fourth on Forbes magazine’s 2017 list of ‘World’s Highest-paid TV Actors,’ which is led by his “The Big Bang Theory” co-star Jim Parsons.
Nayyar, who plays the role of Rajesh Koothrappali, an astrophysicist originally from New Delhi, India, in the hot sitcom, earned one million dollars per episode last season.
Forbes notes that though the highly popular show is his only source of income, Nayyar still took home $25 million in the year leading up to June 1, 2017.
In 2015, with $20 million in earnings, Nayyar was tied for third place with Ashton Kutcher, Simon Helberg, and Mark Harmon, while in 2016, he was at No. 4, taking home a cool $22 million.
The other two top spots on the list are taken over by Nayyar’s castmates, Johnny Galecki and Helberg. Galecki came in second place with $26.5 million, while Helberg came in third with $26 million.
Each of these four stars earn $24 million per season from the show, plus a chunk of backend, according to Forbes. Their salaries will decrease next year, as they, along with castmate Kaley Cuoco, each took a $100,000-per-episode pay cut for the upcoming season to give co-stars Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch higher salaries.
“NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service” actor Harmon rounded up the top five with $19 million while “Modern Family” actors Ty Burrell and Eric Stonestreet followed with $13.5 million and 12.5 million, respectively.
Forbes also observes that a lack of roles accounts for the lack of diversity on the list, which features only one actor of color: Nayyar. But the landscape of television is shifting, it notes, adding that TV seems to be getting more diverse and “The longer shows with diverse casts are on air, the more leverage their stars will have to negotiate higher salaries.”