BURBANK, Calif. – Not all the laughs in CBS’s “The Big Bang Theory” take place onscreen.
During a recent set visit, the seven stars of TV’s top-rated comedy – Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch – shared revealing anecdotes about the CBS sitcom, just weeks away from its May 16 series finale.
Thursday’s episode, “The Inspiration Deprivation” (8 EDT/PDT), continues the season-long Nobel Prize storyline, as Amy (Bialik) suffers a meltdown thinking about what her victory would mean for women, while a new scooter inspires Raj (Nayyar) and Howard (Helberg) to relive their past.
A few of the cast’s stories:
Kiss, Kiss, Cough, Cough
The first tender kiss between Sheldon (Parsons) and Amy took place on a Valentine’s Day train trip (Sheldon plus trains equals true love) in Season 7’s “The Locomotive Manipulation,” four long seasons after they met.
Bialik, just like millions of fans, remembers the long-sought and much-delayed embrace as “really sweet.” But there was a far less romantic side when they filmed the scene.
“You had the flu,” Bialik reminds Parsons.
“Ohhh,” Parsons remembers. “You kept swishing around with Listerine or whatever to kill my germs.”
“Hydrogen peroxide,” she says, correcting him. “You were sweating. You had a fever. You were very sick.”
Parson thinks it over. “I would not have kissed you.”
“Oh, great. Thanks,” Bialik says, as the mini-Sheldon-Amy moment concludes.
Melissa is more civil than Bernadette
Diminutive Bernadette Rostenkowski can be a furious force of nature when she gets riled up, but Rauch, who plays her, requires some prodding.
Cuoco and Galecki, who play married couple Penny and Leonard, recall having to push Rauch to be more aggressive during Season 7’s “The Scavenger Vortex,” which saw the seven friends in a fierce scavenger-hunt competition arranged by Raj.
“At the very end, when we all run back into the apartment to look under Sheldon’s spot, Melissa is supposed to push me out of the way, and I was like, ‘Push me! Push me!’” Cuoco says. And she just shoved me in one of the takes and I ran into the pole in the living room set. And we’re both trying not to laugh. (But) we’re facing away from the camera and I’m literally crying, I’m laughing so hard. And she’s crying, too. We were laughing so hard.”
Galecki “had the same problem with (Melissa) in that episode. She had to punch me. It looked so lame and fragile. And I kept saying, ‘Hit me!’”
“She couldn’t do it,” Cuoco says. “It was very cute.”
The actors eat well in those dinner scenes
“I love all the scenes where we’re eating,” says Cuoco, who’s not just commenting on cast camaraderie. “The food’s fantastic. Our guys are so good.”
Those “guys” are propmaster Scott London and his team, who oversee all food and containers on set because they are considered show props.
London “wanted to be a chef, initially,” Galecki says. “So he cooks everything.”
“Chinese food, sandwiches, pizza, pasta,” Cuoco says. “I’ve eaten everything on this show.”
No detail is too small
Rauch applauds the continuing devotion of writers and crew, pointing to a precision with tiny elements that many viewers will never see.
In a recent episode where the friends are attending a planetarium presentation by Raj (Nayyar), “we’re all holding little pamphlets,” she says. “If you look closely, it’s a beautiful, detailed program they printed with Raj’s face on it, his bio and the history of the planets. And this is something the audience won’t even see. They’ll just see us holding pieces of paper. That speaks to the level of dedication from everyone who works here.”
Pillow talk kept Sheldon interesting for Parsons
If the progression of his relationship with Amy opened Sheldon’s eyes, it also expanded acting opportunities for Parsons, who’s won four Emmys for the role.
“One of the things I didn’t know I was missing as an actor on this show for the years leading up to us being a more intimate couple … are bedroom scenes, whether they be in bed or getting into bed. Not unlike life, there is an intimacy to it that allows us to have conversations in a tone of voice that no other set allows you,” he says. “You find yourself expressing aspects of your character that you didn’t know were in there, because they’re quieter and more subtle.
“When they let (Sheldon) try out new things, it opened up avenues for me and this relationship (with Amy) was a big part of keeping a 12-year-long character interesting.”
Memories of a carpool companion
The cast and crew deeply miss Carol Ann Susi, who played Howard’s never seen but always heard mom, Mrs. Wolowitz. The actress died in 2014, and writers incorporated the irreplaceable character’s death into an episode.
Rauch, who plays her daughter-in-law, spent extra time with the actress.
“She was one of the only people I know in L.A. who did not drive. She would take the bus here. We didn’t live that far from each other, so I would drive her (when) we’d be working together sometimes. And we had some really nice conversations in the car,” Rauch says. “She was just hilarious. People didn’t know things about her. I think she won the canning competition in both jams and sauces at the (county) fair. She was such an amazing lady.”
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