Kaley Cuoco On Her Scary Fall, Penny's Big Bang Cold Streak and a Shaken 'Groove Thing'

It’s been a half-year of frightening downs and invigorating ups for Kaley Cuoco. Last September, she was injured in a horseback riding accident that left her with a leg so broken it took 18 pins to repair. But then, after amazingly missing just two episodes of The Big Bang Theory, she resumed work on a season of the CBS hit comedy that has been one of her richest ones yet, as Penny’s social circle expanded beyond those rather square guys to fold in gal pals Bernadette and Amy.

On the eve of her big-screen comedy Hop bounding into theaters, Cuoco spoke with TVLine about rebounding from her September setback, her Big Bang character’s evolution (and remarkably lousy sex life!), and the surprising someone who shakes his “groove thing” in this Thursday’s episode.

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TVLINE | How are you feeling now, some six months after your riding accident?
I’m feeling great. I was at the gym the other day and I cannot remember what leg it is, that’s how good I’m feeling. About a month or two ago it took a turn for the better, and I’ve had no issues. I’m very grateful.

TVLINE | Was that a scary few weeks for you in September, though?
Oh my god, yeah. I broke two bones in my leg, one came out of my leg…. I was in the hospital for almost three weeks, I had two surgeries …. No one believes how bad the accident was because I healed so fast, but [Big Bang cocreator] Chuck Lorre pulled some strings to get me in with one of the best doctors at Cedar’s in L.A. I was so lucky.

TVLINE | Yeah, Chuck told me that seeing you go through that was far more frightening for him than Big Bang‘s move to Thursday.
Awww, that’s makes me sad, I want to cry! Chuck was amazing. I definitely scared a lot of people, and I’ve never felt s—tier about myself. Not that it was my fault, but you feel like you’ve let so many people down. What’s amazing is I only missed two weeks of work. I’m eternally grateful that [the producers] made it work for me.

TVLINE | I joked with the show rep at the time that they should temporarily swap in Sarah Chalke, work a little Roseanne recast wink-wink there with Johnny Galecki and all….
What?! I can’t believe you would do that to me! Just throw another actress in there, just grab another blonde. You don’t even care, Matt. I mean nothing to you.

TVLINE | I imagine this season has been very different for you, now that Penny has these gal pals – and they’re played by no slouches, either.
It’s true, it has been like a whole other show for me this season. I felt almost a little separated from the boys, which is kind of sad but at the same time really fun. I’m working with Mayim [Bialik] and Melissa Rauch, who is absolutely hysterical…. It’s definitely, definitely been different. But it’s Season 4, so it was time for a change.

TVLINE | And how do you think Penny has changed in those four years?
Tremendously. In the beginning, people would think, “Oh, she’s the dumb cute girl next door, so she’ll say dumb things and wear cute outfits. Whatever! ” But as we’ve seen that is so not the case. Every season she has gotten more and more sarcastic. I mean, she has gotten so dry!

TVLINE | Yeah, sometimes she really cuts them off at the knees with a real zinger.
It’s funny, you’d think she would be the one judging them but it’s turned around these days, because they are constantly judging her. She has become a really cool character.

TVLINE | What’s going through Penny’s mind these days regarding Leonard and Priya, and by extension Howard/Bernadette and “Shamy”?
Yeah, there are a lot of relationships going on. I was laughing, “How did we end up in Season 4 where Penny is the only one not getting laid? Seriously, how does that happen?!” But I think it’s cool they have Leonard in a relationship. I don’t know how it’s going to end – we have two more [episodes] left [to shoot], so I don’t know if it’ll go any further than it has — but it has given me and others on the show new things to do.

TVLINE | In this week’s episode, Penny gossips with the girls about Priya….
Yes, now it’s a thing where she and the girls go out for drinks, and Sheldon ends up wanting to come along. Priya has a problem with Sheldon, so we invite him out and it ends up being hilarious. He shakes his groove thing. There are some dancing moments and it is very, very funny.

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TVLINE | Do you think we’ll ever see Penny land an acting job? Or any job that gets her out of that ruffled denim “Cheescake Factory” skirt?
I agree! She’s obviously not the best actress, which cracks me up. But I don’t know what they’re going to do with her career. We’ve seen that she’s pretty terrible [at acting].

TVLINE | What is your movie Hop about? The Easter Bunny gets hit by a car or something…?
Hugh Laurie (House) voices the actual Easter Bunny while Russell Brand is his son, E.B. — but he doesn’t want to be the heir, he wants to be a drummer and a rock star, as all rabbits do. James Marsden (X-Men) plays Fred, who hits E.B. with his car. He’s a bit of a slacker who lives at home with his parents, so the two of them get along, and I play Fred’s supporting, loving sister. It’s very much a kids’ movie but there is some edge, especially with Russell voicing E.B. It’s very, very fun.

TVLINE | What were you looking at in the scenes with the CG-animated E.B.? Like, a tennis ball on a string?
No, it was actually a sand-filled bag, the size of a small square. It was very bizarre but it was one of my favorite costars I’ve ever worked with.

TVLINE | Tell me about the song you recorded with your boyfriend (Christopher French of the indie band Annie Automatic). What was the catalyst for that?
When I was in the hospital I was very depressed, and Chris would play his music and sing to me. I don’t know what came over me because I am not a singer, but I was like, “Let’s record a song!” So when I got home we ended up recording “Over the Rainbow,” and when we put it on iTunes, 100 percent of the proceeds went to the Humane Society. It’s really sweet, it was a fun little thing to do with Chris, and it helped a good cause.

TVLINE | Any plans for the summer?
Honestly? Absolutely nothing. I’ve made no plans. I don’t want to wear makeup, I don’t want to talk to anyone, I don’t want to go the gym…. I just bought my dream house, with a pool and everything I’ve always wanted, so I just want to hang out here with the dogs and enjoy my time off!

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  1. deltadawn says:

    Guys, I’m a huge fan of this website but you have to proofread or edit those articles…
    She’s probably eternally “grateful” rather than “great” that the producers worked around her injury?
    Also, there might be a “Human” Society, surely you could have the benefit of the doubt here, but it probably is the “Humane” Society…

    It’s a great interview though – she seems like such a nice person!

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Thank you for the kind words on the actual spirit of the interview. The two typos have been fixed.

  2. Bob says:

    Hmmm…I’m sure she has a much different opinion of Chuck Lorre than Mr. Sheen. And since the accident was long before the recent blow-up with those two, he may have been helping her out of a sense of compassion. So who might be the real a-hole between Sheen and Lorre?

    • Miss M says:

      Really? Are you that naive. Kaley and Sheen are commodities that line executive producers like Lorre, pockets. Of course they are going to do everything possible to protect their investment. Why do you think they never fired Sheen after all the crazy stuff he did.

  3. shuayb says:

    Lol I love penny! Can’t wait for thursdays ep!
    It isn’t the first time that there have been spelling and grammar errors…

  4. Lauen says:

    I agree that proofreading should be done on these type of things. It would make the site seem a lot more credible and it is very distracting.

  5. Scott says:

    I hate to talk about one of Chuck Lorre’s other sitcoms but in light of what a recently fired actor on that show said about Mr Lorre, it is great to see his other sitcom actors regarding him as a really nice guy who would do anything he could for them.

    “Chuck Lorre pulled some strings to get me in with one of the best doctors at Cedar’s in L.A. I was so lucky.”

    “Chuck told me that seeing you go through that was far more frightening for him than Big Bang‘s move to Thursday.”
    “Awww, that’s makes me sad, I want to cry! Chuck was amazing.”

    Says it all really. Kudos to Mr Lorre.

    • Trish says:

      And I loved the viral video of the cast and crew singing “Soft Kitty” to her that he arranged to help her feel better.

    • Carrie says:

      During the whole Sheengate thing someone tweeted to Kaley what Chuck Lorre was really like and she said something along the lines of he was the best boss ever. Not that she’s going to say anything else in a public forum but she seemed pretty sincere.

  6. Juliet says:

    I totally agree with what Kaley said about the evolution of Penny. It began in season 1 and I think it’s one of the main reasons that the show works. In the first two episodes, Penny was pretty dumb–kind of a bimbo–so I stopped watching. But when some friends told me how great the show was, I gave it another try and I found that around the 3rd or 4th episode, they adjusted her character a bit to give her an avareg level of intelligence. Basically, they turned a TV trope on its head and made the Hot Girl the Everyman–the character that most people can relate to. It made the whole show stronger because not only is she more likeable, but you can see why Leonard and the guys would want to hang out with her (other than the way she looks).

    And Kaley seems like she’d be an awesome GF to go have margaritas with. :)

  7. Mambo says:

    I love Kaley :)

    Thank you Matt for this interview, usually tv websites don’t care much about Penny (and basically Kaley Cuoco’s career) when writing about TBBT.

    Oh, and an L is missing in the first question (“feeling”).

  8. ggny says:

    great interview Matt…there should def be more interviews like this one on the website

  9. Jeri says:

    Loved the interview too Matt.

    I think we have some misplaced english teachers in our midst.

    Some folks gotta grade others…

  10. Mary says:

    I love Kaley! She’s like a breath of fresh air!!Totally a raw model for me! Now as for the interview, at least she wasn’t all “Leonard and Penny are each other’s soulmates” like Johny was!:p

    Hopefully the writers will either put L and P back together and we’ll be done with that boring love triangle storyline, or they’ll keep them apart for good this time, cause honestly this 2 just don’t click!!They don’t have this magic that every OTP should have!

    I’ve read the taping report for ep 21, (it’s the one that Sheldon joins the girls in their night out)and it’s indeed a very interesting and hilarious episode! Definitely the best of this season! However, there’s a scene between Sheldon and Amy in Amy’s apartment that I would very much prefer that it had been between SHELDON and PENNY instead!! I still don’t lose hope that Penny will somehow be with Sheldon at the end! No matter how crazy that might sound for some ppl, I believe that they’re made for each other!!! SHELDON AND PENNY FOR THE WIN!!!<3<3

  11. Robert Render Harrison says:

    Re: Big Bang Theory:
    Love the show! Very witty, and very nice indeed to have a sit-com of this calibre of intelligence, which might well have astonished the TV ratings folk who might (originally) have wondered how strong this show could be. This is TV that appeals to both intelligent viewers as well as as nerds!

    I’m still uncertain whether or not there have been two different actresses playing Penny; I saw that on YouTube there’s the same question. But I guess it’s all Kaley Cuoco. She does a terrific job, and I hope she continues in that role as long as the series continues.

    Re: Charlie: whatever he was like to work with (which I’ guessing wasn’t easy!) he was an expert comedian; I won’t watch the new series; without Charlie Sheen, it doesn’t make it, in my opinion.

    I’ll spend me ‘couch time’ watching ‘Big Bang’ instead. Chuck Lorre obviously knows how to put on a goos show; I’m seeing his name all over the place!

    Robert Render Harrison