Summer 2013 | Pop-arazzi: Kunal Nayyar

DEPT: Pop-arazzi
AUTHOR: Ada Tseng
ISSUE: Summer 2013
PHOTOS: Diana King
STYLIST: Skye Stewart- Short
GROOMER: Sonia Lee, Exclusive Artists

THE BIG BANG THEORY STAR IS NOTHING LIKE HIS CHARACTER — JUST ASK HIS MISS INDIA WIFE”

 

Having just completed its sixth season, the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory is more popular than it’s ever been (currently the highest-rated show in television with 20 million viewers), and 31-year-old Indian British actor Kunal Nayyar is working on his favorite storyline so far: his astrophysicist character Raj finally falls in love.

“It’s fun to explore that side of Raj,” says Nayyar, “to see him be vulnerable because he has a legitimate shot with a girl. I don’t think we’ve seen him genuinely like someone yet.”

Part of the reason Raj’s personal life has been so slow to develop is because he has social anxiety disorder, specifically selective mutism, which makes him unable to talk to women. Early in the first season, Raj discovered that alcohol overrides his psychological fears, and he has since experimented with other pharmaceutical drugs with varying results. Though often played for laughs, it’s a serious disorder that thwarts his desire to be a ladies’ man.

When Raj meets Lucy (played by Kate Micucci), he asks her out for coffee, only to have her excuse herself to go to the bathroom and sneak out the window. This sends Raj into a mini depression, and his friends find him alone in his apartment, bingeing on lobster, wearing only his tighty whities.

“You know, I’m not insecure about the way that I look, and as an actor, you’re just playing the circumstances,” says Nayyar. “But it’s not like I have a six-pack, so when I saw it, [knowing that] 20 million people were watching, I was like, ‘My God, time to go on a diet.’” He laughs. “But in my defense, I was wearing three [pairs of] underwear under the [top] one, because they wanted my tummy to stick out a little more.”

To see Raj failing at social interaction is not new, but this time, he wasn’t the reason the girl was scared away. Lucy later apologizes, admitting that she suffers from social anxiety and gets nervous around new people. Suddenly, Raj’s weaknesses that have crippled him in the past are the same qualities he uses to convince her to give him a chance.

When she finally agrees to a date, he calls out, “You won’t regret it! I’m the most pathetic guy you’ve ever met!”

“For the first time, Raj is the one who’s saying, ‘You have to put yourself out there,’” says Nayyar. “It’s their first date, and he’s worried that she’s going to have a panic attack, so [he says,] ‘let’s have a first date in a library,’ and ‘let’s text each other.’ He’s making an effort to take care of her, which I think is very sweet.”

In real life, Nayyar definitely doesn’t need help with the ladies — he married former Miss India Neha Kapur in 2011. Nonetheless, as The Big Bang Theory writers have gotten to know Nayyar over the years, they’ll sometimes slip in elements of real life into the character.

“Sometimes they’ll write something in the script, and I’ll be like, ‘Oh, that’s how I, Kunal, talk,’” says Nayyar. “But sometimes it gets blurred. Sometimes my wife will be like, ‘You know, you’re sounding like Raj right now.’”

While The Big Bang Theory’s ratings have always been high, it wasn’t until after the show went into syndication in 2011 that Nayyar truly understood the extent of his reach. Now that people approach him in airports and restaurants all over the world, his success feels more tangible.

“I love playing a character that has this innocence and naiveté about him, because it’s rare in the real world,” says Nayyar. “I mean, it exists, but I’m not like that, so it’s great to be able to play a character that is pure, has good thoughts, loves his friends, and is really just a positive guy.”

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 6.15.53 PM

WHAT WERE YOU DOING 10 YEARS AGO?
“I was in Portland, Oregon. I had just turned 21, and I had my first beer; my brother bought me my first beer. I mean, I had had a beer before that, but I remember my first official beer. I went down to show my ID. And I was in a band called the Prince and the Pauper.”
— Kunal Nayyar

Summer 2013 | Destination: NEW ZEALAND

DEPT: The Good Life
AUTHOR & PHOTOS: Ada Tseng
ISSUE: Summer 2013

“Honeymooning could be full of long walks on the beach and relaxing couples spas — or you could explore the adventurous outdoors in New Zealand’s South Island to see how much excitement you can really take.”

 

A travel agent had advised us against the campervan. She told us that approximately a third of her American clients who campervan through New Zealand end up crashing into something. You’re driving on the left side of the road, steering from the right side of the car, and operating a vehicle bulky enough to fit a makeshift sofa-bed, kitchen and bathroom inside. She didn’t even mention the windy mountain roads, the absence of street lights outside the tiny towns, and the wonder that is the “one-lane bridge.”

We didn’t listen to her. Other things we ignored: the campervan customer service representative’s concerned look after he saw we were headed toward Arthur’s Pass for our first time left-lane driving; the recommendation we not drive at night (unfortunately at sunset, we were still three hours away from our destination); the red light we accidentally missed that resulted in us driving toward oncoming traffic (the driver was surprisingly understanding when we apologized); and that sign for “Death’s Corner” I drove past that I thought best not to mention to my husband, his eyes closed, dizzy from carsickness in the passenger’s seat.

As I was cruising along in the darkness, I kept repeating to myself some advice I had gotten about driving in New Zealand. Most of the time, there’s no traffic, so you’ll get used to driving on the left side. But if you see another car on the road, just remember: your instinct is always wrong.

If you’re a tourist visiting the gorgeous, wild islands of New Zealand (all in full, jaw-dropping display while you’re driving during the daytime), you’re not there to follow your everyday instincts. You’re there to jump out of a plane, catapult yourself off a bridge, swim with wildlife, kayak for five hours in the pouring rain, ride a high-speed jetboat as it whips around boulders, and hike a slippery glacier with terrain that looks a bit like one of those slot canyons in 127 Hours, where James Franco’s character got trapped and ended up sawing his arm off.

You’re here for adventure. And whatever happens, you’ll have the time of your life. Here are a few recommendations for a trip to South Island.

HIKING FRANZ JOSEF GLACIER
Located on the west side of the South Island, Franz Josef Glacier descends from the Southern Alps into the rainforest of Westland Tai Poutini National Park. You can either walk up from the Franz Josef village to see the glacier or even better, you can take a helicopter to actually hike on the glacier. The latter tour provides you with the requisite clothing and footwear, including crampons to ensure your boots have good grip on the ice, as well as a strapping, young male guide who leads you around the glacier and chips away at the glacier floor with an ice ax to make it less dangerous to climb. Be prepared to crawl under ice caves, shimmy your way through narrow passages, and climb up and down steep cliffs with the help of a rope swing. Afterward, stop by the village’s Glacier Hot Pools for some rest and relaxation.

KAIKOURA
Located on the northeast coast of the South Island, Kaikoura is popular for whale watching, and visitors come specifically to see the sperm whale, which legend says led Maori ancestor Paikea to New Zealand many centuries ago. Because it’s in the middle of two tectonic plates with high cliffs and ocean currents, Kaikoura is a great place to find marine life in general, including southern fur seals and ocean seabirds such as albatrosses, petrels and shearwaters. But most exciting of all, there are tours where you can go swim with dusky dolphins in their natural environment. So put on your wetsuit, jump in, and resist the urge to ride one into the sunset.

BUNGEE JUMPING AND SKY DIVING
The Kawarau Bungy Centre in Queenstown is regarded as the world’s first commercial bungee, set up in 1988 by pioneer AJ Hackett, who has broken six Guinness records for his bungee stunts. Queenstown also boasts New Zealand’s highest bungee, the Nevis Bungy, set 440 feet above the Nevis River. But if that’s not enough adrenaline for you, New Zealand is also a very popular place to sky dive, as some locals see jumping out of an airplane as a rite of passage.

KAYAKING ON MILFORD SOUND
Milford Sound is New Zealand’s most famous tourist destination (English author Rudyard Kipling called it the Eighth Wonder of the World). Located in the southwest of the South Island, Milford Sound is a fjord, which is an inlet carved by glacial activity, a peaceful bay surrounded by rock cliffs. Visitors can marvel at the breathtaking landscapes on a boat tour that will last one to two hours, or alternately, you can do what we did: kayak on the waters of Milford Sound to get up close to the waterfalls. The half-day tours run from sunrise to sunset, and after five hours in a kayak, you’ll feel like you got a pretty good arm workout.

THE LORD OF THE RINGS TOURS
It’s hard to quantify how much the Lord of the Rings trilogy has done for New Zealand tourism, but there are so many Lord of the Rings tours that it’s a shame to not at least attend one of them. Although the Wellington movie production hub and the sets of Hobbiton are on the North Island, the South Island is filled with memorable landscapes as well. The aforementioned Franz Josef Glacier was used for the lighting of the beacons; Queenstown is where you will recognize locations such as Isengard, Lothlorien and the Ford of Brunein; and you can even book a horseback riding tour to Paradise, where you’ll see Amon Hen, the Wizard’s Vale, and the mighty peak of Methedras. Also, many of the tours will let you play with replicas of LOTR’s costumes and swords, so as a bonus, you can dress up as Gimli, play with Aragorn’s sword, and take the dorkiest photos of your lives.

 

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 12.39.04 PM
Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 12.40.09 PM Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 12.40.39 PM

 

Summer 2013 | The Spill: LOVE AND DATING: Then Versus Now

DEPT: The Market
ISSUE: Summer 2013

“IN HONOR OF AUDREY’S 10-YEAR ANNIVERSARY, OUR OH-SO UNSCIENTIFIC LOOK AT DATING IN 2003 VERSUS 2013. “

Among Audrey staff, daily conversations about life always serve as fodder for future story ideas. One of the hot topics at work: dating. While we always commiserate in the universal struggles of dating, our personal experiences of how we dated are very different, depending on the decade. An obvious difference: technology.

Today, online dating provides more opportunities to meet singles in and out of your area, but it’s also changed the experience of getting to know someone for the first time. Most likely, you’ve already screened them beforehand so you know all sorts of things about them (favorite movies, quirky hobbies). Texting and IM’ing have replaced the good old-fashioned phone call, and a girl could feel really close to a guy just because they texted throughout the day about minutia, without actually having heard a single word.

But it’s not just technology; the economic times are different in 2013 than they were in 2003. The economy is sluggish, the post-graduate job hunt is much more difficult, and 20- somethings find themselves moving back in with their parents after college. Dating takes money, and right now, there’s not a lot of it to go around.

With that said, we share our own personal list of trials and tribulations of dating in 2003 versus 2013.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 11.48.36 AM

Korean Actor Byung Hun Lee in “Red 2″

 

SOUTH KOREA’S HOTTEST ACTOR IS WELL ON HIS WAY TO BECOMING ONE OF HOLLYWOOD’S LEADING MEN. Story by Kanara Ty, photos courtesy of BH Entertainment Int’l Management Agency.

 

Byung Hun Lee is a celebrity in his native South Korea as one of the nation’s top actors. Nevertheless, when he was on set for the upcoming action-comedy sequel Red 2, playing the role of Han, an agent-turned-hired killer out to get Frank Moses (played by Bruce Willis) — his second Hollywood role this year after playing Storm Shadow in the spring block- buster G.I. Joe: Retaliation — he couldn’t help but feel a little star-struck.

“There are amazing actors in this film. They are legends: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren and John Malkovich. It was a great experience, but I had a hard time adjusting to the environment the first time. Acting among them made me so nervous,” says the 42-year-old.

Fortunately, Lee’s character allowed him to look pretty cool onscreen. “Han has a lot of pride,” says Lee. “He’s a pretty scary character in the movie.”

Interestingly, the action sequences weren’t the challenging part of filming for Lee (“I’ve done a lot of action movies in Korea,” he says); it was adjusting to a different type of comedy. “Every country has its own brand of comedy,” he says. “I had to understand American comedy and the cultural differences.”

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 5.23.31 PM

Born and raised in South Korea, Lee got into acting 23 years ago when his mother gave him an application for an open audition at KBS, one of the nation’s top broadcasting companies. He soon landed his first role starring in the 1991 television drama Asphalt My Hometown. After working on a number of dramas the next couple of years, he starred in his first film, What Drives Me Mad?, opposite the late actress Choi Jin-sil.

Despite Lee’s extensive career in film and television, he says he initially wasn’t interested in acting. “I never thought about being an actor,” he says. “My real personality is different. I don’t want to show off. I don’t want to speak about myself in public. I don’t have that outgoing personality.”

Even when his career started to take off, he still had one foot out the door. “I thought this was not a job I would have for the rest of my life. This will be just a great experience for me,” he remembers. It took a couple years for him to realize that acting was “something that I could put all my passion into.”

It’s a passion that he may have inherited from his father, who passed away 15 years ago. “When I was a kid, my dad really loved Hollywood movies,” says Lee. “He knew a lot of things about films, actors and actresses. He was like a directory of Hol- lywood films. He always told me lines from the movies. He was a maniac about Hollywood films.” When he told director Dean Parisot about his father, Parisot decided to use a real photo of Lee at the age of 5 holding hands with his dad in the film.

“To have that picture in the film — it was amazing because my father was such a huge fan [of Hollywood]. Even though he passed away, he could still participate in this project with this picture,” says Lee.

Now with multiple big-budget Hollywood films under his belt, and his hand- and footprints immortalized in cement at the famed TCL Chinese Theatre (formerly Grauman’s Chinese Theatre) in Hollywood (the only other Korean actor with that honor is Ahn Sung-ki), the once-reluctant actor is not showing any signs of slowing down anytime soon. He says he’ll continue look- ing at scripts in both Hollywood and Korea, focusing on films but still open to television dramas, which are immensely popular in South Korea. In fact, Lee seems interested in taking the hallyu wave to the next level by working with a Korean director on a Hollywood film — maybe Park Chan-wook, with whom he worked in Joint Security Area, which made him an international star in Asia, or Bong Joon-ho of films The Host and Mother.

After nearly a quarter of a century as an actor, how does Lee keep it fresh for himself? It’s the same bit of advice he has for new actors: “Always try to keep an open mind and think freely as a child.”

Watch out Hollywood — there’s a new kid in town.

This story was originally published in Audrey Magazine‘s Summer 2013 issue. Get the issue here.

Summer 2013 | Pop-arazzi: Godfrey Gao

DEPT: Pop-arazzi
AUTHOR: Ada Tseng
ISSUE: Summer 2013
PHOTOS: Jetstar Entertainment

 

Screen Shot 2013-08-05 at 4.29.36 PM

 

“CANADIAN ACTOR AND MODEL GODFREY GAO TACKLES HIS FIRST ENGLISH LANGUAGE ROLE AS MAGNUS BANE, THE HIGH WARLOCK OF BROOKLYN, IN THIS SUMMER’S ADAPTATION OF THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS.”

In Asian TV dramas, the male protagonist is often a young, arrogant, rich kid who’s about to have his world turned upside down by the wholesome, down-to-earth female who finally makes him want to be a better person. To set this up, there’s often an obliga- tory scene where a crowd of girls lunges themselves at the leading man, causing your average feminist viewer to roll her eyes.

But when Godfrey Gao, dressed in an all-white suit, makes girls’ hearts go aflutter in the first episode of the 2010 Taiwanese drama Volleyball Lover, it seems quite realistic. Or perhaps, your eyes are too stunned to roll.

 

 

It doesn’t hurt that Gao’s athletic character, Bai Qian Rui, is not arrogant, but in fact kind of silly. In order to cheer up his best friend, he crouches his entire 6-foot-4-inch frame low to the ground and jumps up and down like a gorilla. “I think that character is closest to my personality,” says the Taiwanese- Malaysian Canadian, “because I can be quite goofy sometimes.”

Born in Taipei, Gao moved to Vancouver at age 9 and immediately noticed cultural differences. “I remember [Canadian] girls in school greeting friends or strangers with hugs, some- times even [taking] a running jump to give a hug,” says Gao, “whereas in Taiwan, girls were mostly shy, and if boys came up to talk to them, they’d run away and giggle from a healthy distance.”

As a child, Gao idolized Michael Jordan, and it was his dream to play basketball in the NBA. A skinny, lanky kid, Gao had his growth spurt between 9th and 10th grades, a period he re- members clearly because it resulted in him dunking a basketball for the first time. He still plays pick-up basketball weekly, and if he hadn’t become a model and actor, he says he would have loved to pursue a career in sports. “Perhaps I might’ve become Jeremy Lin!” he jokes.

At first, modeling and acting seemed out of reach. “Honestly, I didn’t think it would happen because cloth- ing-wise, nothing fits me in Asia,” says the 28-year-old. But then he earned his first acting job in 2006 in the Taiwanese drama The Kid from Heaven, in which he plays an American coming back to Taiwan to run a business. Likewise, Gao had just returned to Taiwan from Canada to give acting a shot.

While he worked hard to perfect his craft, Gao jokes that it was his facial hair that changed the course of his career. “I had a long summer vacation back in Vancouver, and for a while, I just didn’t shave,” remembers Gao. “When I re- turned to shoot another TV drama in Taiwan, my manager and the producers liked my facial hair and thought I looked more masculine. That’s when I shot Wanna Be a Tough Guy, where I played Tiger, and that image stuck. It was definitely a turning point.”

By 2011, he was not only a house- hold name in Taiwan, he was declared the “world’s first Asian male super- model” by The Guardian after being named the new face of Louis Vuitton — the first Asian model for the world’s most valuable luxury brand.

In another first, this year brings Gao’s first English-language role as the Indonesian half-demon warlock Mag- nus Bane in the Hollywood adaptation of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, in theaters August 23. On her Tumblr, Cassandra Clare, the author of the original young adult fantasy novels, wrote that after an exhaustive search through many hot Asian men, she’s confident that “our Magnus may be … THE HOTTEST MAN IN THE WORLD.” Expect a “warlock for the ages,” says Gao, whose character has a penchant for sparkly eyeliner. “It was magnificent! It was the first time I had glitter and nail polish applied on me.” The only downside, he recalls, was “the Magnus party scene where I was ‘sans pants’ in 0 to 3 degree Celsius weather.”

Godfrey Gao in glittery liner and without pants? “Expect a lot of fun,” says Gao. Indeed.

WHAT WERE YOU DOING 10 YEARS AGO?
“I had just graduated from high school and attended my first year of college where I was playing basketball for Capilano University.” — Godfrey Gao

Buy our 10th anniversary issue with Godfrey Gao here.