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Kaley Cuoco’s Never-Published Interview From ‘Big Bang Theory’ Season 1

If you've ever wondered what it was like to make the show before it exploded, this is your opportunity

From 2007 to 2019, The Big Bang Theory was one of television’s biggest sensations, turning Kaley Cuoco and the rest of the cast into superstars. But if you’ve ever wondered what it was like to actually make the show before it exploded, this is your opportunity.

The show, of course, was about four scientifically-minded best friends who also happen to be slaves to pop culture, and whose lives are turned upside down (in a good way) when Penny (Kaley Cuoco) moves in across the hall. Those guys are Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), who Penny will eventually marry; Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Raj (Kunal Nayyar).

Born on November 30, 1985 in Camarillo, California, Kaley Cuoco has starred in more than 30 movies between 1992’s Quicksand: No Escape and 2024’s Role Play. On television she was amongst the main cast members of Ladies Man (2000 to 2001), 8 Simple Rules (2002 to 2005) and Charmed (2005 to 2006). Immediately following The Big Bang Theory, she started voicing the title character of the animated series Harley Quinn (2019 and still going) and starred as Cassie Bowden in Max’s The Flight Attendant (2020 to 2022).

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During the show’s first season, we had the opportunity to speak to the cast one at a time, those interviews never appearing online before — though now they are, beginning with Kaley Cuoco.

FIRST FOR WOMEN (FFW): The show is so enjoyable for the audience, but are you enjoying making it?

KALEY CUOCO: I am. I’ve never been so excited about a show before. In fact, we had a party over at my house, and I had the whole cast over last night with our significant others. We watched the show — it’s so cute and we had such a good time.

FFW: That kind of answers the question of whether or not you guys hang out and bond beyond just being on stage together.

KALEY CUOCO: Well, the guys are really close. I know Simon, Jim and Johnny hang out a lot and I’m kind of like their annoying little sister that follows them around and wants to hang out, too. But they’re way too cool for me. We’re all very close, but we’ve definitely formed a very strange relationship, all five of us. It’s so quirky and just nuts.

Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons in The Big Bang Theory season 1, 2007
Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons in The Big Bang Theory season 1, 2007©WBDiscovery/courtesy MovieStillsDB.com

FFW: It seems tough being a straight person to someone who’s comedic, but you’re sort of the straight person to four people in a sense.

KALEY CUOCO: Actually, I think what’s funny about the whole thing is that they’re all straight characters, ’cause when they look at each other, everyone thinks all the others are crazy.

Especially Sheldon and Penny. He just does not get her, and Penny think’s he’s crazy, too. So they all think they’re normal in a certain sense, but they’re all so screwed up and odd. That’s what I love about it, although Penny is definitely the standing tree amongst the crazies. She oversees a lot and is kind of like the little mother bear. It’s very sweet and that’s what I love about it. I feel that way on set, too.

The gang's all here in 2007!
The gang’s all here in 2007©WBDiscovery/courtesy MovieStillsDB.com

FFW: In your opinion, what’s the appeal of The Big Bang Theory?

KALEY CUOCO: To have a hit show, you have to have characters that are lovable. These guys are so lovable and charming and non-offensive and they’re not in your face. And my character is not the raging sexpot who women don’t want to watch and men are bothered by. She’s not obnoxious and the characters are all so lovable.

The other thing is, you have to want to watch them and I think people are falling in love with Leonard, Sheldon and a lot of these characters, and they want them to do well. They want them to get the girl in the end and to succeed.

FFW: What was interesting was an episode in which Sara Gilbert guest stars and she kisses Leonard, and you definitely get a subtle sense of jealousy on Penny’s part.

KALEY CUOCO: It was. I got asked so many questions about that; people were like, “Why would she…?” And I kept thinking to myself, “Why would I be jealous if not I’m interested in this guy?” But I’ve been through those situations where you’re not interested in this specific person, but you like that they’re interested in you. It’s a girl thing and it’s, like, “Oh, wow, he actually gets some action.” It was an eye-opening experience for Penny, because she doesn’t see him like that., but the fact that he’s wanted by a certain person puts him in a whole new light for her. So, yes, she was a little jealous.

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Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco in 2007
Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco in 2007©WBDiscovery/courtesy MovieStillsDB.com

FFW: Not talking about what fans want to see per se, from a character point of view, do you think it could be realistic in Penny’s mind somewhere down the road that she could actually develop romantic feelings for him? Or are they just from two different worlds and it would never happen?

KALEY CUOCO: 100% yes. Definitely. Obviously they’re very opposite, but she has an attraction to him because he is so different and the thing about Penny is she’s non-judgmental. She’s just sweet and a good person and it doesn’t bother her that these guys are so weird. She loves them anyway. I think the fans would like to see that down the line, but there will be some flirtations going on in the meantime.

FFW: It’s good to see the nerdy guy win out a bit.

KALEY CUOCO: That’s the thing, they don’t make Penny so unattainable. She is in a sense, but they don’t make her so distant or give the attitude, “Oh, he’ll never be able to get this girl.” She’s not mean, she’s not bitchy. They’re making her very available to him.

A strange friendship develops between Penny and Sheldon
A strange friendship develops between Penny and Sheldon©WBDiscovery/courtesy MovieStillsDB.com

FFW: She also gets some great zingers in there, like looking at Sheldon and saying things like, “You and I are about to have a serious problem.”

KALEY CUOCO: That was funny — Sheldon and Penny are two characters who are so funny together, because they literally do not get each other whatsoever. So they look at each other, like, “Oh my God, who am I standing here with?” They both think each other is crazy, which is why it’s so genius.

FFW: And it seems that Penny has a very distinct relationship with every character on that show.

KALEY CUOCO: If you take any two characters and put them in a scene, it will be hilarious, because there’s some weird quirkiness going on. Penny definitely has a relationship with all of them, whether it’s good or bad.

Kaley Cuoco on horseback 2014
Actress Kaley Cuoco performs during the Charity Pro-AM class at Longines Los Angeles Masters at Los Angeles Convention Center on September 27, 2014 Getty

FFW: Penny may not be as geeky as the others on the show, but what gets your geek on?

KALEY CUOCO: I am a total Western horse geek girl. I have horses. If I’m not working, I’m at the ranch cleaning up horse manure and feeding the horses, and I immerse myself in that. I’m a total geek — I’d rather be there than anywhere else. That’s where I’m going now and I just love it. I could be out there all day, and I ride every horse that’s out there. There’s not a lot of people I share this experience with.

FFW: As the show goes on, where do you want to see it and Penny go?

KALEY CUOCO: What’s crazy is it feels like we’ve been doing the show for a few years already. Hopefully Penny will grow a little bit — every character will grow. We’re still so early in this … you know what? That’s not my job. I’m just gonna get a script once a week and hope that it’s hilarious. And it always is!

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