It’s difficult to imagine The Big Bang Theory (Thursdays at 8/9 MT on CTV ) having a different cast than the one we’ve fallen in love with over the past 12 seasons, but that was a very real possibility. In a new interview with the cast and creators, the team behind BBT reveal that producers initially passed on Kaley Cuoco becoming part of the main cast, thinking she was too young. So, ageism can actually work the other way in Hollywood, too.
When The Big Bang Theory’s first pilot premiered in 2006, it looked noticeably different from the show that millions of fans continue to tune in to watch every Thursday. Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons appeared as Dr. Leonard Hofstadter and Dr. Sheldon Cooper, but the brilliant nerds were the only original cast members present. The pretty neighbour was named Katie, not Penny, and was played by former Much VJ Amanda Walsh.
In a new interview with TV Insider, Warner Bros. President Tim Roth said that the character of Katie didn’t work with Leonard and Sheldon. “In the first pilot, the character of Penny [originally named Katie] was not as appealing as that proverbial girl next door. It was not the actress [Amanda Walsh] but rather the conceit of the character,” said Roth. “Fortunately, Nina Tassler, then-president of CBS Entertainment, realized we had something very special and said, ‘Let’s do it again.’”
View this post on Instagram
Our new @tvguidemagazine cover makes me sad and happy all at the same time! Check it out for all things @bigbangtheory_cbs! Our 12 year run and the final few weeks together 😭 thank you @jefflipsky for this moment and thank you glam squad for making me feel fab per usual! 💫 tap for credits 💫
The pilot was reshot and premiered on September 24, 2007, this time with Galecki and Parsons, as well as Simon Helberg (Howard Wolowitz), Kunal Nayyar (Rajesh Koothrappali), and Cuoco (Penny…now Hofstadter).
Cuoco shared her side of the long casting process, with her bubbly attitude responsible for changing the role from Katie to Penny. “I didn’t get [the role of Katie] the first time around. I was too young, which I love saying because I don’t get to say that I’m too young anymore,” laughs Cuoco. “Then, a year later, I heard they were doing it again, and they brought me back in to read for Penny.”
Galecki recalls reshooting the pilot, saying “It felt very natural, almost musical, [to reshoot] the pilot when Kaley was on board with Simon and Kunal. It felt like a band you’d been playing with for years. And everything that everyone did complemented what someone else had to do. It was just fantastic. There’s no recipe for that kind of chemistry.”
Annnnnd we’re already crying in anticipation of the series finale on May 16.
Prior to being cast on BBT, Cuoco spent 2002 to 2005 starring as the teenage daughter of Katey Sagal and John Ritter on the sitcom 8 Simple Rules (Ritter passed away after the first season). Interestingly, Cuoco was cast as the eldest daughter on the show, even though her co-star Amy Davidson was six years older than Cuoco in real life. Age is fluid in Hollywood.