Big Bang Guest Katie Leclerc: Raj's Girlfriend Is 'Such a Departure' from the Deaf Stereotype

This Thursday on The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8/7c), Penny seemingly finds a solution to Raj’s romantic woes in a spinning class gal pal who is Deaf, thus saving him the hurdle of having to communicate with her directly.

“Raj (played by Kunal Nayyar) gets a ton of assistance in talking to Emily, because he doesn’t speak sign language,” guest star Katie Leclerc, who like her Switched at Birth and Big Bang characters is in real life hearing-impaired, tells TVLine. Helping bridge the couple’s communication gap is Wolowitz, who “knows sign language in addition to five other languages,” Leclerc explains with a laugh.

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That Wolowitz’s portrayer, Simon Helberg, and other Big Bangers were so quick to pick up on ASL thoroughly impressed the visiting actress, as did their ability to adapt on-the-fly to other circumstances.

“I’m more used to the one-hour drama set up, where we don’t get changes as much as sitcoms do, but Jim Parsons (Sheldon) had to forget his entire script and relearn a new one like two days before we shot,” she notes with more than a bit of awe. “That, and Simon with his sign language skills…. They are all so professional, and so talented.”

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Howard apparently gives Raj and Emily a most helpful hand (or two), because things between them “go pretty good, and we become boyfriend and girlfriend,” Leclerc previews. Alas, Emily may wind up saying things that Raj wishes he didn’t hear.

“You might find out that my character is not necessarily what she seems,” says Leclerc. “She’s actually kind of a bitch!”

Because, she says, TV characters who are Deaf are often bathed in a positive light, Leclerc relished the opportunity to go a bit louder with a bratty portrayal.

“This is such a departure from the character I play on Switched at Birth, who’s a shining example of sweetness, the doe-eyed 16-year-old,” she shares. “It was cool to play someone who really is unapologetic and just sort of goes for what she wants.”

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Speaking of pretty gals going for what they want, what does Leclerc have to share about the next run of Switched at Birth episodes arriving in 2012 on ABC Family? Has Daphne lost out on her bid to keep longtime friend Emmett from falling too hard for Bay?

“Daphne has finally figured out what she wants, and she’s a very competitive person, and she and Bay have butted heads very frequently in the last 10 episodes,” Leclerc notes. “But ultimately it’s not Daphne’s decision; it’s Emmett’s. She can appeal to Emmett’s pathos and hopefully overcome what Bay’s doing, but it’s just not her choice – and that’s the hardest thing for Daphne to accept right now.”