One of the best sitcoms from recent memory was The Big Bang Theory. And the reason for the show’s success were the great characters and the actors who played them. Among these great talents was Kaley Cuoco who played Penny.
The character of Penny was the first female lead on a CBS sitcom and Kaley Cuoco did a fantastic job with the role. For many fans, this is the role that’ll define her career and it was certainly what gave her a breakthrough as an adult.
But why is it that Kaley Cuoco originally didn’t want the role of Penny? And what were the issues she had with the character and the show?
Kaley Cuoco is Nothing Like Penny from The Big Bang Theory. Join FactsVerse to learn more…
KALEY CUOCO’S EARLY LIFE AND CAREER
Kaley Cuoco was born on November 30, 1985, in Camarillo, California. She didn’t come from an entertainment background but took an interest in being center-stage at an early age. She was initially a tennis player and was rather accomplished, playing the sport from her early childhood to her mid-teens.
However, at the age of 16, she lost interest in tennis and decided to pursue a career as an actress.
She got her first major role in the feature film Virtuosity released in 1995. As a teen, her career was going from strength to strength and she had roles in films and shows almost every year. Her notable films during her teens included, Picture Perfect, Toothless, Mr. Murder, Can’t Be Heaven, Alley Cats Strike, Growing Up Brady – in which she portrayed actress Maureen McCormick during her youth, Debating Robert Lee, Crimes of Fashion, and The Hollow.
Her TV roles during this time included work in shows such as My So-Called Life, Northern Exposure, The Tony Danza Show, a main role in Ladies Man, 7th Heaven, and The Nightmare Room.
But perhaps the first role that brought her to widespread stardom was as Bridget Hennessy in 8 Simple Rules. In this role, she played one of the children to parents played by the late John Ritter and Katey Sagal. The show was a huge hit and this was the role that could be stated as Kaley Cuoco’s breakthrough.
However, as a child or teenage actor or actress becomes an adult they often struggle with continuing their career. They often fade away and the public loses interest in them. However, Kaley Cuoco wanted to ensure that this wouldn’t be her fate.
She needed a role that would bring her to the forefront. While she continued to act in films, she was also coming of age during the new renaissance of television. She needed a role in a hit TV show that she could act in for several years. This would help her become a major star once again and would solidify her career as an adult. It would ensure that she would continue to have work once the show ended.
This role came in the form of Penny from a sitcom called The Big Bang Theory – created by Chuck Lorre. In fact, this role would be the first female lead in a CBS sitcom.
But – Kaley Cuoco originally had no interest in playing Penny. Her agent told her about the role and she felt that Penny would be a secondary and perhaps insignificant character – one that wouldn’t show any promise. But as Chuck Lorre already had incredible success in the TV industry, her agent told her that it would probably become a series and a big one at that.
She decided to give Penny a shot and later on she was grateful for being hired for the role. Penny made Kaley once again and was the breakthrough she needed to have a successful acting career as an adult.
And yet, Kaley Cuoco is nothing like Penny from The Big Bang Theory…
THE BIG BANG THEORY
Anyone who’s watched The Big Bang Theory knows that Kaley Cuoco was the perfect actress for the role. But the character went through interesting changes.
In the original script for the pilot, the character of Penny was named Katie. Katie was going to be played by actress Amanda Walsh. This character was meant to be a much more cruel and rude character – with little to find appealing. However, at a test screening – a group of selected viewers didn’t like Katie at all. They found her to be too mean and felt that the chemistry with the other characters just didn’t work.
Katie became Penny and she was a much sweeter character and Kaley Cuoco was ideal for the role. She stood up for her friends but also knew how to stand up against them when needed. For example, she would often challenge Sheldon and label him as a bully whenever he was condescending toward someone not as intelligent as he was.
Looking back, one can’t imagine what the show would have been like without Kaley Cuoco in the role. She appeared on the show for every season for the course of 12 years – missing only a few episodes.
However, despite the fact that she was grateful for her role on the show, Kaley Cuoco wasn’t afraid to speak her mind on her disagreements with the show and characters. Toward the end of the show, Penny develops a relationship with Leonard and eventually its revealed that she is pregnant. However, Kaley Cuoco felt that it would have been better if the character remained childless.
The end of the show in the 12th season came as a surprise to much of the cast and many of them wished they’d been given advance notice. One wonders if the pregnancy was one way for the show’s writers to end the series.
Kaley Cuoco has spoken about how she wished it hadn’t ended as it did but it wasn’t the end of the world. Her revelations haven’t been too controversial and the cast and creators still get along with each other. And best of all, while Kaley Cuoco is nothing like Penny from The Big Bang Theory this was one of her favorite roles and it’s helped her continue her career.
She’s stated that the character’s likeability is probably what made audiences resonate with her the most. She still enjoys discussing the character and the show and recognizes it as some of her best work. No doubt, the character of Penny in The Big Bang Theory will always be remembered as one of the best female leads in an American sitcom and Kaley Cuoco will always be remembered for her great role in the show.
So, what’s her career been like since she left the show?
KALEY CUOCO’S CAREER AND LIFE UPDATES
Let’s look at Kaley Cuoco’s career since moving on from playing Penny in The Big Bang Theory.
She completed her work on The Big Bang Theory in 2019. But since then she’s kept busy and she’s transitioned to the animated series Harley Quinn in which she voices the title role. She’s also appeared in an episode of Young Sheldon – a prequel to The Big Bang Theory focusing on Sheldon’s childhood.
She also appeared in a 2021 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm called ‘The Watermelon.’ But her main TV role now is as Cassie Bowden in the mystery series The Flight Attendant. She plays a flight attendant who wakes up next to a dead body in her hotel room and begins to wonder if she was the killer!
Such a smooth transition to a sitcom to a riveting thriller probably hasn’t been seen in a long time and she was nominated for several awards for her acting. She is also the executive producer of the show.
She’s also kept busy in cinema and a mention should be made of some of her significant film work during The Big Bang Theory and after the show ended. She played ‘Wanda’ in The Last Ride – a biopic of singer Hank Williams. She also starred in and was the executive producer of the film Authors Anonymous.
She’s since appeared in one hit film after the next including The Wedding Ringer, Burning Bodhi, Alvin and The Chipmunks: The Road Chip, Why Him?, Handsome – in which she played herself – The Man From Toronto, and Meet Cute – released in 2022.
According to IMDB she’s going to appear in a lead role alongside Bill Nighy in a thriller film called Role Play.
She was previously married to tennis player Ryan Sweeting from 2013 to their divorce in 2015. In June 2018, she married Karl Cook and they remained married until their divorce in June 2022. Since May 2022, she’s been dating actor Tom Pelphrey and she’s expecting a child with him.
She continues to act regularly in film and television and often makes public appearances at events, award ceremonies, and at conventions. While she’s now being recognized for her TV role in The Flight Attendant and in the feature film Meet Cute, fans still adore her for her role as Penny in The Big Bang Theory. One wonders if in the future we’ll see reunion shows and spinoffs in which Kaley Cuoco will reprise her role as Penny.
In the meantime, we’re excited to see where her career goes. She’s showing no signs of slowing down and is appearing in interesting roles in both film and television. Truly, appearing in The Big Bang Theory was one of the best career decisions she made as it helped her move forward and continue her acting career as she transitioned from a child actress to an adult actress.
So, now let’s hear from you:
Are you a fan of Kaley Cuoco? Did you know that she is nothing like Penny from The Big Bang Theory?
Nevertheless, she certainly did a great job playing the character on the hit sitcom.
And now, here’s what we want to know:
Do you think that there are other interesting characters like Penny in today’s sitcoms?
Or will it be a while until we see a sitcom that had the same impact as The Big Bang Theory?