Kaley Cuoco Weighs In on Big Bang's Big 'Love' Scene ('I Cried'), Teases Next Romantic Twist

“You’re the one I’m with. You know that I love you. So will you please relax? Because you’re driving me crazy!”

Just like that, The Big Bang Theory‘s Penny let her heart tumble out onto her waitress uniform’s sleeve, blurting those three never-little words to Leonard. And the moment just so happened to occur during the CBS hitcom’s most-watched episode ever.

TVLine invited Kaley Cuoco to share the inside story on the shooting of the scene — including whether Penny’s almost-tears were her own. Also: What’s next for Penny and Leonard, and how might a third party prompt a certain blonde beauty to “go all in” with her geek guy?

TVLINE | So, let’s talk about that scene. Had you gotten a heads-up that this moment was coming? Or did you stumble across it in the script the same way the words stumbled out of Penny’s mouth?
I knew that [executive producer Steven] Molaro and the writers had been toying with the idea. Johnny [Galecki] is always trying to get info about what’s the next episode and during one day of shooting, Molaro said something like, “We’re trying to figure out how Penny’s going to say, ‘I love you.’” Weeks later, when we saw the script and did a table read, I thought, “Oh my God,” it was such a well-written scene. Then, on the shoot night, we actually did that in one take. Johnny and I were actually talking about it yesterday, how we literally felt like Leonard and Penny in that hallway. We didn’t even think there was an audience there, that’s how dead silent it was. It just was so perfect, Steve and Chuck [Lorre] came out and said, “We’re going to move on. We don’t want to touch that.”

TVLINE | Your eyes looked a little glassy in the moment. Were you on the cusp of welling up?
Completely. I cried at the table read. I cried in the rehearsal. I cried in run-throughs. That’s why I had to take such a long beat, because I thought, “If I close my eyes, tears are just going to come streaming down my face,” and I wanted it to look more pent-up. I thought, “Oh, they’ll tighten that [in editing],” but they left it all in there. I guess they liked it.

TVLINE | Did the “I love you,” as written and directed, reflect at all how you imagined these three words would one day come out?
It made perfect sense that she would blurt them out and not even realize it. And you saw the vulnerability at the same time. I feel like Penny’s got just as many issues as Leonard, in different ways, and this has obviously been very difficult for her, so I loved that it came out without her knowing. It shows that she meant it. It was really the first time I felt like I was actually in that moment, that I was talking to Leonard — as cheesy as that sounds. It’s been an amazing and crazy road, almost six years up to that point, so it’s just such a cool moment.

TVLINE | Have you, Kaley, ever said “I love you” to a guy for the first time in such an adorable way?
I’ve said “I love you” too many times. [Laughs] I need to stop. I am…oh, my God, I fall hard. It’s the opposite of what Penny does, so I definitely am not afraid to say those three words.

TVLINE | Is Penny going to be at all different starting this Thursday? Maybe a little sheepish around Leonard, knowing that she has said this?
I can safely say, because we’ve shot a few since then, no. What I love about the show is they’ll do some kind of Earth-shattering scene, and then we kind of don’t mention it again for a while. You kind of let it settle, and then it comes back full circle. There’s not going to be any weirdness.

TVLINE | Because Leonard’s mid-coitus marriage proposal came back up pretty quickly.
That is always going to get made fun of.

TVLINE | Sheldon’s assistant Alex has taken a shine to Leonard. Will she be any kind of a hurdle?
Actually, what we’re shooting this week has a lot to do with that storyline and her kind of being a little too flirty, and Penny feeling completely insecure about her relationship with Leonard — which is a good change, because Leonard’s always the one feeling insecure.

TVLINE | Is Penny feeling like she wants more now that she has made this declaration?
The thing is, I never know where they’re going with her. Some weeks, I feel like, yes, she’s totally all in. And I think she’s also trying not to bring up the fact that she said “I love you,” because she knows so Leonard so well. You give him an inch, and he takes a mile.

TVLINE | Big Bang drew record numbers last time out. Has anyone sat you guys down and explained the math behind this? How a show in its sixth year is pulling that off?
I don’t need to be sat down to understand. There’s no understanding. I’ve been [acting] for a long time, and we all know that years in, series either plateau, or they keep a great audience. Getting bigger just doesn’t happen. A handful of shows in the past have been able to do that, but it’s very rare, and every Friday morning, we’re still stunned. It still blows our mind, and it’s such a blessing. I guess that’s credit to our writers. It’s not easy to continue to serve up a hilarious script week after week after week, and they just have been…. I feel like this show is better than it ever has been.

TVLINE | How does it feel for you, as a young actress, to know that regardless of whatever else happens with your career, you’ve been on one of the most successful sitcoms of all time?
Again, I feel so proud to be part of something so special — and I feel that we were special from the pilot. I remember one of the first things we shot, when Leonard and Sheldon get introduced to me at the door, and we all say hello 27 times. I remember going, “How is this going to work?” And after we shot that scene, seeing all the chemistry we had, I truly thought we had something special, and I feel that way to this day. This is something that has changed my life forever.

TVLINE | You’re hosting the People’s Choice Awards again (on CBS, Jan. 19). Any lessons learned from your first time around?
I was just honored and completely shocked when they asked me to do it again. I thought they had the wrong number, like, “Are you sure…?” But it comes very naturally to me and I like being in that sort of arena, so I’m excited. We’ve thought of some really funny skits.

TVLINE | Is there anything else you want to talk about? Do you have any movies in the pipeline or…?
I think, most importantly, we should talk up the 20 million hits we got with our ["Call Me Maybe"] flash mob. I think that’s the most important thing, don’t you?

TVLINE | That was directed by your sister Bri, right?
Yeah, she choreographed it. Honestly, a year ago, when I said I wanted to do a flash mob, I told the guys at work, “I’m telling you, we’d get 20 million hits” — and they all laughed in my face. Now, because we’ve gotten 20 million hits, I’m just dying. It’s awesome.

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91 Comments
  1. Kir says:

    Have not watched latest episode yet :( But hope BBT is good for many more seasons

    • Bob says:

      The reason that episode worked for me was that it was just the original five actors. No forced Amy or Bernadette side stories.

      • matthew says:

        Yeah I agree with you on that though I don’t mind Bernadette but I absolutely cannot stand Amy they need to get rid of her ASAP!

        • Frank says:

          As a producer myself in Television I can only tell you,Your an idiot!!!!!

          • MarilynMyre says:

            Obviously you’re not a writer or maybe you would know when to use “your” and “you’re” Mr. TV Producer.

          • Bob Carsten says:

            Actually “you’re or you are, not “your” indicating the possessive pronoun.

        • Kara Blankenship says:

          Ugh. Amy. Bernie, sure. Rauch is a hoot. But Amy and her desperately creepy antics? And her obnoxiously delusional quips? And Bialik’s ridiculously annoying intonation and over-all TV presence? PLEASE GO AWAY.

  2. niks says:

    Love the show. And love Kaley.

  3. telly says:

    Great interview :)

  4. omabin says:

    Kaley Cuoco is one of the most underrated actresses on television. What she does to Penny is very underestimated, she is amazing at that. A lesser actress would have made hated by millions. I agree with her also in regards to big bang being better than ever, this season has been something else, every single episode i am laughing soooo much. I hope big bang goes on and for many years, we need stuff like this in our lives. Their numbers are very much deserved

  5. Amlang says:

    Great show. Along with parks and recreation, one of the smartest and funniest half hours on television.

  6. TV Gord says:

    That was a great flash mob, and what I liked about it most is that Jim Parsons staying on the set near the couch and Johnny Galecki taking off and hiding until it was over seemed in character both for their characters and who they seem to be as themselves. :-)

    • kthor says:

      In the longer version(found onyoutube) johnny he comes in and does a little breakdance spin in the middle

    • rubyanjel says:

      In Jim’s Leno guesting, he said that whenever they would be practicing for the Flash mob, he would duck out and escape. It was Kaley’s idea for him to stay and act as if he’s confused and such.

  7. John says:

    Main thing – Penny HAS to get out of that stupid waitress job. Its been years! Get her a new profession.

  8. Faberry says:

    Love this show so smart

  9. dude says:

    I love BBT and I wish it could go on forever but it really has such a limited shelf life. Does anyone want to see 40-year-old Leonard and Penny? I think it’ll go four more seasons.

    • Bob says:

      Well, Jim Parsons is 40, so they’re partially there already.

    • Kelsey Taylor says:

      or a sixty year old Sheldon Because right now Sheldon is forty years old. boy that would be awful to see a sixty year old Sheldon I’d be happy if it went to Ten seasons like Friends did I think that’s were there heading to but the question is how would they end big Bang theory?

      • a482972 says:

        I’d have a lab accident – probably have them transported to another dimension testing a Sheldon theory, or maybe a Howard building a device that goes terribly wrong.

  10. Ed says:

    I only started watching BBT 2 seasons ago (I think LOL) and I must be the odd person out but I love Amy and Bernadette. My favorite scenes are usually when all 3 girls are working off each other. Kaley is absolutely adorable and a true pro to the craft.

    • Justin says:

      Same here. The addition of those two has just made the show stronger to me. When those three ladies are together, they’re so hilarious!!! If BBT is smart, they’ll keep them as regulars till the end.

      • JO says:

        I agree, best thing they ever did to keep the show fresh! They are all great actors, I just hope they can do something with Raj, it bugs me that he still can’t talk to women unless he’s drunk. I don’t know why but it does lol.

        • GoGiants says:

          Also, why are Leonard and Sheldon still roommates? I’d think they make enough to live on their own…especially if Penny can afford her own apartment. That’s always bugged me. Two physicists have to pool their funds to live together, but a part-time waitress can afford her own apartment in the same building?

          • Marz says:

            I don’t know about Leonard, but Sheldon probably wants a roommate so someone will drive him to work, the comic book store, etc.

          • rr says:

            Makes perfect sense to me. Not about what they can afford. It what’s practical at the moment. Remember when Sheldon loaned Penny rent money?

          • AngD says:

            Penny’s living in a much smaller 1 bedroom. Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment is 2 bedroom and the living area is at least double Penny’s. So, their rent would be at a lot more than Penny’s. Also, they started out not being paid as much and now it’s just habit.

          • GoGiants says:

            Living by oneself is normally a luxury, it just seems odd to me that a part time waitress can afford that. Not realistic.

    • John DeMayo says:

      Bernadette is a great character… but the problem right now is that she’s essentially taken away one of Howard’s funniest traits: his creepy attempts at seducing hot girls. They haven’t found a new way for Howard to generate laughs yet.

  11. cjeffery7 says:

    oh the sneaky gems you hide in your tvline items!

  12. GoGiants says:

    I like Kaley but cannot stand the character of Penny. She’s stale, a user of the guys, mean (that episode where Leonard tries to help her in her class she was beyond rude), and seems to have zero ambition. I don’t care how pretty she is, I can’t imagine a smart guy like Leonard staying interested in a loser like Penny.

    At least Bernadette and Amy have actual lives and are decent characters. Penny offers nothing. Write the character off and have Leonard grow up and find a real equal.

    • Jacob says:

      Uh…she’s pretty and he’s a guy. What else do you need to know.

    • AngD says:

      Penny may not be book smart, but she does have ‘life’ smarts. Someone who is ‘book smart’ sometime needs someone to help them get through life. Both Penny and Leonard are moving towards a middle ground.

      • GoGiants says:

        Penny’s not a nice person. And she doesn’t really have that many “life smarts.” A person with life smarts wouldn’t be a career part-time waitress with no prospects or ambition for what, close to six years? She’s stagnant, arrogant and not very bright. I really can’t see a smart guy like Leonard, who was raised with smart parents, being happy with her, no matter how she looks.

        He’s a winner in life, she’s a loser. She’s best suited for one of those big not-so-smart guys she’s dated in the past.

        • Mattias says:

          Well written, GoGiants! :-) I totally agree with you again!

        • Patty says:

          Do you realize that she is one of the stars of the show. Without her Howard wouldn’t have met Bernadette and Sheldon wouldn’t still have Amy. Why would an incredibly smart person want to date someone exactly like him? His parents don’t even like each other nor talk. I’m sorry you have every right to dislike a character, but find a better reason then her being a waitress and not smart or ambitious enough. They are awkwardly cute together, and the character is changing by going to school.

    • Jason says:

      This is just silly. I mean, I disagree from the start about the character but more realistically, its what the show is about. All of the characters are extremely abrasive in some way just by stubbornly sticking to their original character types. Sheldon alone makes me wince and turn away from the screen most episodes, like wow did they really write that? But its what the show is about!

      Bernadette and Amy are even more stuck in their rolls if that is possible. I have yet to see them act(the characters not the actors) beyond their range. If anything they could be a bit more dynamic.

      They had Leonard dating ‘smarter’ and more successful women several times throughout the series and it never plays as well. Even if they came up with a better character, like that chick he almost cheated with, they would be throwing away a real asset by getting rid of Kaley. They would do better to have the character evolve. The whole premise is how the guys have changed for knowing her and vice versa. She has evolved quite a bit, its unfortunate if you can’t see that!

      I will say it would be hilarious to replace her with the chick that played Donna on That 70s Show. Same plot results but arguably a smarter character. I think Kaley has been more challenged in this role but it would be funny to see leonard deal with a physically strong, outdoorsy woman instead of just a ‘dumb blond’.

      Most series revolve around two characters who have no good reason not to be together but hold off for a few seasons, eventually revealing how compatible they are. Which is epically boring. Part of the fun is seeing how they exist on totally separate frequencies but when they occasionally cross, BANG!

  13. Luis says:

    Just a wonderful show. Great writing and direction, wonderful chemistry among the cast.

  14. champmav says:

    Sometimes lightning strikes at casting and a symbiosis of character/actor occurs. Much talent is involved at every level, to be sure. Such a pleasure to be able to enjoy this show, pray that it lasts at least a while before the inevitable transformation of character into cartoon caricature that most sit-coms succumb to.

  15. John says:

    I always leave off from watching the show feeling better than when I started. Those are very few and far between.

  16. Kristy says:

    Would have been better without the awful canned laughter.

    • M3rc Nate says:

      If it had been silent or “awwws, gasps” i agree it would have been a bit more moving, but if by “canned” you mean laugh track, thats not the case on BBT. Its a live studio audience. If you mean a “Laugh Sign” that gets pushed to light up, idk if they have that or not.

      I enjoy Penny and Leonard, and enjoy them together, but i dont think they are the best fit. When i really actually pay attention to this show instead of just “vegging” out and laughing…i actually get a bit…upset? too strong of a word but something close to it. Think about it:

      Like Kaley mentions, Penny has her issues, and she has a lot, and a lot of them are pretty sucky to have in a GF/Wife. Also i just dont think her and Leonard are that good of a match. Every time they have Leonard with a different girl (except Raj’s sister) it is soooooo good. When hes with nerdy girls he is so much happier, they are just as hot (current girl who likes him, past nerdy girl he “cheated” on Raj sister with, etc). So far as proud of Penny as i am for learning nerdy stuff and learning science and what not…it still doesnt add up.

      I just see him being 1000% happier with one of those gorgeous nerdy girls whos into everything hes into, and understands his work, and doesnt have the commitment issues Penny has (among many other issues that draw out the worst in Leonard). Why date someone you feel you could never get so you always feel insecure?

      And as far as the other characters, i personally don’t like Amy barely at all, and her lesbian feelings for Penny are CREEPY. Its not sweet and cute like on Parks&Rec with Leslie and Ann’s friendship, where Leslie thinks Ann’s the most beautiful and all that, but it doesn’t come from a weird sexual place ever.

      Raj i think just isn’t a good person. Ya hes funny and quirky, but hes SO desperate that he backstabs his best friends (trying to get Burnadette, trying/almost sleeping with Penny, etc). How he reacts to Leonard dating his sister (id think ud be happy for your best friend to love your sister, not act like he doesnt deserve her), his constant jealousy. It just adds up to a horrible friend, someone i would have decided isnt worth having in my life, and i would have punched if i was Leonard. I hope they get him in therapy next season and fix his speaking to girls issue, and so he meets “the” girl that same season and not only is that great, but it helps him fix his personality, not be so jealous and whiny and backstabbing, but him (like Howard did) become a good guy.

      • rr says:

        You do realize this is a sitcom, not a soap?

        • M3rc Nate says:

          I get that, but they are still characters that are supposed to be likable, supposed to be watchable. Lots of people take up issue with 2 and a Half Men (esp when Sheen was on) and how hes they dont watch for many reasons. Parks & Rec is a sitcom as well and i think its much more successful in its characters actions and likability.

          All shows based on humans, no matter its genre, hell all material (plays, books, movies, tv etc) try to have likable characters. Look at Dexter..its a show about a serial killer yet we are on his side, and like him, and want good things to happen to him. Just because a show is a comedy or drama or sitcom, it doesnt change the human aspect of connecting with the characters and their likability, would you really like BBT if they were all sleeping around and cheating on their GF’s/BF’s and stealing each others stuff and not being sorry when caught even if they found a way for it to be funny? just cause something can made to be funny doesnt mean its realistic, or fun to watch or makes the characters un-likable so you just dont connect with them.

          • rr says:

            Dang, that’s a tough one. The way you describe it, it wouldn’t be funny at all – wonder how could make it funny. (The one with Raj was OK, but I think that’s about as far as they can go with that). Have to say, there are stranger couples out there then Penny and Leonard, they’re not likely, but stranger things have happened.
            BBT is in league with Married with Children, not a likely situation, but til now the best sitcom ever. OTOH, I never liked Seinfeld or Friends. Reminded me of the just out of college days. Either could have been any apartment building, anywhere.
            I guess I generally prefer little reality in my entertainment.

      • GoGiants says:

        Penny was also drunk when she was in bed with Raj, why not blame her, too?

        But I agree with you on Penny and Leonard. It’s forced and not realistic. Aside from Penny being cute (and in LA, her blonde looks are dime a dozen), what does she offer? She’s mean (that episode with her being so angry at Leonard trying to help her studies is what turned me completely off her), has zero ambition, except to be an “actress” and does nothing to better herself.

        Write the character off, the boys, especially Leonard, will be much better off!

    • The laughter is not canned – it is shot in front of a LIVE audience. There’s even a Chuck Lorre vanity card with a photo of the audience with the cation “THIS is our canned laughter”, or something to that effect. It is live spontaneous laughter – they don’t need a laugh track.

  17. AngD says:

    Previously, I had only watched the pilot years ago and didn’t warm up to it. I got addicted to the show this summer while watching the re-runs on TBS. Now I can’t imagine not watching TBBT.

  18. John DeMayo says:

    Here’s the problem with the newer seasons of The Big Bang Theory: The two new characters, Amy and Bernadette are great, hilarious additions to the show. HOWEVER, the writers just don’t seem to know what to do with the larger cast now. The show was funniest when the guys were all hanging out together and doing typically nerdy stuff. With the addition of the gals, the show is becoming more and more about the “relationship drama”, which gets tedious after awhile.

    Amy and Bernadette are not the problem… it’s just that the writers haven’t figured out how to get out of the rut of “relationships stories”, and back to what made TBBT so funny in it’s earlier seasons.

  19. Lenny!!!!

    And love that Margo Harshman will be in another episode!!

  20. FireSeventy says:

    Seems to me that ‘relationship stories’ are what happen to people as they grown and mature, as both the show and cast has done. Kaley is by all accounts a good person and fair actor, but the men in the cast really do the heavy lifting with the script. Melissa and Mayim are good additions to the cast 1) because their characters are smart and quirky like the boys and 2) Because they provide instant, relatable stories vis a vis relationship conflicts. I’m very happy that BBT is on the air, and doing so well. It means we can have smart AND funny tv in America after all.

  21. nathan says:

    It is a tv show .,and funny as all get out . The cast is great. So just watch it and enjoy or don’t . For all that don’t like Penny& Leonard remember opposites attract . Kaley is gorgeous

    I

  22. Dale says:

    Just don’t turn it into Sam and Diane from cheers. That was so wushu washy and drawn out it totally turned me off.

  23. Ella says:

    I hate Leonard and Penny together but that WAS a well written and acted scene. Still, wish they’d split them up already, they are DULL.

  24. Sean says:

    Love the show. Love the character development and the growth. Love the great acting and great writing. The fun, silly, geeky, sexy, whimsy….all great. But to me the central core of the show is and always will be, “Our babies will be smart and beautiful.”

  25. Gabor Vadasz says:

    Great show, in fact the only sitcom worth watching and probably the best sitcom ever. But the idea that the new season is the best one is absurd. Just watch again some episodes from the first two (or three) seasons and count the laughs (I mean your laughs). John DeMayo is right: the show moves towards relationship topics instead of nerdiness and it’s not easy to manage. It’s still funny, but not so much as it was before.

    Concerning the money issue: Sheldon just uses some 45% of his salary.

  26. polly says:

    why doesn’t Penny have a last name?????

  27. Mitch says:

    Love the show and the characters. I have been a fan since it started. However now that Penny has finnaly told Lenord that she “loves” him, the writers need to make their relation ship less stiff. Someone needs to prompt Leonard as to how to be a boy friend. We never see Leonard just kiss Penny spontaneously or even hold hands. With a women like Penny he needs to show her affection. Even Howard knows that. I realize he is nerdy but after all this time he needs to come out of his shell more.

  28. James parsons says:

    What is penny’s surname in BBT?

  29. parn says:

    i love penny so much that i dont want her to get involve with leonard.
    leonard is blehh and i always see him whinny and annoying. it is best to this character leonard getting kill off..
    sheldon is the real star here. i dont understand why cant ther writer nor producer see how adorable penny and sheldon r when there together. penny should bre with sheldon..not annoying leonard.

  30. adam says:

    I must say, this show is my favoriate show out right now. The back and forth between Penny and Leonard is fun and keep things pretty fresh. But I don’t want the show to get too focused on their relationship….like how the Office got with Jim and Pam. I watch this show for it’s comedic purposes….not for the love story.

  31. Adam says:

    I love this show. I like the Penny / Leonard dynamic just as long as it doesn’t take away from the comedic purposes of the the show. I felt like the Office went too far to duplicate Pam/Jim that they turned Michael into a sap and the show into a Rom / Com that ultimately imploded. (I mean does anyone watch the Office anymore?….Anyone?)

    In a way, I almost want Penny and Leonard not together b/c I feel like if they do the show will turn into them constantly bickering or Leonard constantly proposing, or Penny wanting to break up. I want to laugh…I don’t want to watch a Nicholas Sparks movie.

    So far so good….and the writing is hilarious, but I don’t want the writers to get hung up on the relationships too much.

  32. Adam says:

    Kaley really is great though….it’s hard to pull off the Penny character. I do agree with what the person said above…most other actresses couldn’t do it and the majority of the viewers would just end up hating Penny.

    The one show where I really didn’t like Penny was when she went to the movies with Leonard but it wasn’t a “date” and Penny starts flirting with the guy at the next table and than cock blocked Leonard when he started talking to a different girl.

    Had to be the one and only time I didn’t like Penny.

  33. Brock says:

    Kaley needs to go back to acting school, her acting is horrible!

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