Eye on Emmy: Kaley Cuoco Dishes on One of The Big Bang Theory's Biggest Moments Ever: 'I Had Chills!'

The Big Bang Theory isn’t getting any smaller. TV’s No. 1 comedy wrapped its seventh season with its most watched finale ever, and a three-year renewal means the gang will be geeking out until at least May 2017.

The only female there on Day 1, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting‘s Penny at first served as the nubile neighbor Leonard (played by Johnny Galecki) would worship from afar/across the hall, but through seven seasons she has evolved into a richer character that can crack wise with any of the boys or her gal pals.

Having already netted a Critics Choice Award nod and on the heels of delivering a destined-to-be-classic sitcom scene in which Penny and Leonard (finally) got engaged, could this be the year that the Emmys in turn say “Yes!” to nominating Cuoco-Sweeting for Supporting Actress in a Comedy?

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TVLINE | In March, the show was renewed for three more years, which will take it to 10 seasons. Of course, I imagine the money is kinda-sorta good, but was the decision to re-sign for multiple years at all daunting?
Oh God, no. There is nothing daunting about that. I think anybody would like to know that they have a job for the next three years, so I was completely on board with that, and very grateful and excited. It’s such a rarity to know that you have a place [to work] for the next couple of years.

TVLINE | Are you also excited to meet the challenge of keeping things fresh for another three years?
Yes, that’s going to be the challenge for the writers, for sure, but I feel like we have so many stories to tell. There are so many funny things that could happen to any of these characters.

TVLINE | What do you notice most when you stumble across an old episode?
Probably my hair, or my wardrobe, or like, “Why did I wear that color of lipstick?” [Laughs] Especially after seven years, you’re like, “What was I thinking?!” The sets seem different, too. Everything does. It’s very strange.

TVLINE | On a scale of 1 to 10, where would your rank Penny’s geek girl aptitude at this point?
Oh my gosh, I’d say its pretty up there – between a 9 and a 10, for sure. I think she knows a lot more about all this stuff than she would like to or ever thought she would. I think it’s funny when she catches herself talking about Star Trek or under-standing what they’re saying – like, “How did this happen?” She’s come a long way.8SimpleRules_Ritter_Cuoco

TVLINE | You once told me that one of the best pieces of advice you got from your 8 Simple Rules dad, John Ritter, was to never give the studio audience the same take twice. Are you still doing that?
Absolutely. That’s the best advice I’ve gotten, or ever witnessed. John always just did that, and I was like, “How does he keep everyone laughing so hard?” On our show we do three takes, maybe four max, so you get a chance to do it four different ways, and it keeps everyone cracking up. It also gives the producers and the editors a lot of options, but it’s more for the audience, making sure they never know what to expect, which is very important.

TVLINE | What advice would you be able to give an aspiring actress now versus seven years ago?
That you just never know what’s going to happen. The fact that I auditioned for this show three times and twice didn’t get hired…. It’s about perseverance. I remember the third time I went back, I was thinking, “It’s obviously not right for me, I don’t know why they keep bringing me back!” But I’m really glad I did go in that third time, because obviously it changed my life. So just remember, anything can happen. You think it’s the wrong thing but it could be the right thing. You just need to keep going. People [in my circle] were like, “Look, you want to work for Chuck Lorre. If you want to do comedy… You’ve got to get back in that room.” He was the reason that we went back.

TVLINE | Just before you called, I rewatched the “Strawberry Pop Tart” scene. Was it everything you had hoped for from such a long-anticipated moment?
It was. Funny enough, The Gorilla Dissolutionthey wrote that Pop Tart line at the very last minute and I couldn’t remember it! I kept flubbing it, making everyone laugh, to the point that I was like, “OK, this is taking the charm out of the scene!” [Laughs] But it ended up being so cute, and the audience was going crazy, standing and cheering…. We had to keep telling them to calm down, but they had waited so long for it. (Watch the scene here.)

TVLINE | That had to be one of the biggest audience reactions ever, I imagine.
Oh my God, they screamed. One of the biggest reactions was for when Sheldon and Amy (played by Jim Parsons and Mayim Bialik) kissed on the train, and our engagement was huge too. We just sat there for 10 minutes while they were cheering and clapping. I had chills. I feel like I’m a viewer of the show too, so I was excited. I really wanted that to happen, too, for “Lenny,” for Leonard and Penny.

TVLINE | And if I have my math right, that was the second time in one year you were proposed to.
Yes, I know. [Laughs] This last year has been so wedding-involved. I worked on [the Kevin Hart comedy] The Wedding Ringer, and then I really got engaged – and then married [to pro tennis player Ryan Sweeting] — and then Leonard and Penny got engaged…. It’s all very strange.

TVLINE | What I liked about the proposal scene is how it opened up with Penny doing some serious self-assessment – something she would not have bothered with five, six years ago.The Gorilla Dissolution
Yeah, I think she started to realize that life is happening and this fairy tale of “Oh, I want to be an actress” [needs evaluation]. She has this perfect guy next to her and she wanted to start making life happen for her and not wait for it to come to her. This whole season I feel like she’s been evaluating what she wants to do, so I hope next season she has more of an idea of what her path will be.

TVLINE | What kind of bride-to-be do you think Penny will be?
If I could write it myself, I think Leonard will be more of the bride, because I think it would be funny if he were the planner. Penny is so aloof, she’d be a lot more easy-going than Leonard.

TVLINE | Though I feel she’d draw the line at a Lord of the Rings theme.
That’s funny…. Yeah, she knows when to draw the line. But Leonard is so excited, so he might take the reins and go all Kanye on this.

TVLINE | So, if a wedding is coming, do we get to finally cast your mom?
I know, I’ve been waiting! I don’t know what they’re going to do, but I have always thought — and I hope this doesn’t offend her because I know she’s super young, though we know Penny’s mom got knocked up very early – that Lisa Kudrow would be so perfect. I’ve said that for years. I think it would be hilarious, plus I’m a huge fan of hers, so it’s a selfish wish.

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TVLINE | Seven successful seasons in, does it irk you at all that some people out there still dismiss Big Bang as populist fare and don’t give the show the credit it is due?The Proton Displacement
Do people do that…? I don’t care what anybody says. It’s the biggest show out there, and the show stands on its own. It speaks for itself.

TVLINE | Who makes you laugh?
Simon Helberg (who plays Howard) makes me laugh, really, really hard. Everyone at work is so funny and I learn from them every single day, but Simon is, I think, one of the funniest people I have ever met.. Outside of the show, my husband makes me laugh for sure — we make each other laugh very hard — and my sister makes me laugh, too. She’s hilarious and sarcastic, the opposite of me. I surround myself with some funny people!

Want more scoop on Big Bang Theory, or for any other show? Email insideline@tvline.com and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. jr. says:

    I think it would be funnier if Penny’s mom, turns out to be somebody unattractive. And we learn before the boys meet Penny, Penny had a lot of plastic surgery. Then Leonard learns this and he and his friends wonder if he will still marry her. Because when thinking about marrying Penny, he has always said: “our children will be smart and attractive.”.

    • Mel says:

      Writing comedy is not for you. Keep your day job.

    • TV Guy says:

      It would be much funnier to discover that Penny actually had been a medical doctor who quit after residency to become an actress. When she first met the guys, she was acting as a dumb blonde and never felt comfortable “going back and telling them.” Last show, she joins a prestigious private medical practice.

    • Jnr says:

      Jenna Elfman as the mum

  2. Mark says:

    We have met all the rest of the families its time to meet Penny’s lawless clan from back home — I’m liking them a bit to the Gallagher’s from Shameless not for a long arc but for maybe one or two episodes Leonard in Omaha trying to explain what he does, would be fun. As in the show we really haven’t seen Penny’s family….

    • Jane says:

      We have already met her Dad. He was played by Keith Carradine

    • TV Gord says:

      I’d love to see a scene with all of the parents in one room! They’re all cast so perfectly! Raj’s parents would be on Skype, of course, and Howard’s mom would be in the bathroom…

    • Chad says:

      What I’m wondering is if they are finally going to give Penny a last name. She’ll be getting a new one and I’ll be curious if they say her full name at the ceremony.

  3. Mel says:

    What a great Q&A. Loved it, thanks. I really hope that Kaley gets nominated for an Emmy this year, as she deserves it. I think people will always turn their noses up at popular shows like Big Bang and NCIS. There’s so many great choices out there now, with darker, edgier fare like Breaking Bad and Fargo, and unique little gems like Orphan Black, but there’s still a place for the guilty pleasure fan favs. Personally I enjoy both, but it’s just pure fun to watch the geek-out on Big bang, or see what DiNozzo and McGee are up to on NCIS. Great palate cleansers after the weekly bloodbaths on Game of Thrones.

  4. Amanda says:

    It would be funny if they cast Rosanne as Penny’s mother, the one who played Becky as her sister, DJ as her brother and John Goodman as the minister to marry them. Then bring Sheldon’s mom for the wedding and Leslie Winkle as a guest and the whole episode they spend looking at each other asking if they ever met before! But I know that will never happen….

    • TV Gord says:

      Probably not…but I like it! :-)

    • Mel says:

      Sadly, no, I don’t think Chuck Lorre could pull that off, especially where Rosanne is concerned. From an interview she gave last year to TV Guide:

      “I probably wouldn’t go on The Big Bang because me and Chuck Lorre, we’re not friends. He should get over it.”…He’s in AA and when people are in AA, they’re not very forgiving. They need to start drinking and loosen up, I think!”

    • JLK says:

      Yep, definitely not going to happen. Roseanne has very publicly berated Chuck Lorre…and as recently as a few months ago, I believe. No way they can play nice and work together.

    • regina says:

      Yes,Yes,Yes make this happen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Mike says:

      Sounds like it would never happen but how about Rosanne Barr as Howard’s mother (that screaming voice could almost be her) and Katey Sagal as Penny’s mother (she was Cuoco’s character’s mother on 7 Simple Rules).

    • Kaley was on 8 Simple Rules when she first started. It would be fun to see them bring that cast on as her family, with Carradine as her dad since John Ritter passed away.

    • AEG says:

      That would be funny.

  5. AnnieM says:

    Love TBBT. I’ve said before, they should make Penny a somewhat successful B movie actress. The writers could have a lot of fun coming up with the fake movie plots.

  6. TV Gord says:

    “If I could write it myself, I think Leonard will be more of the bride, because I think it would be funny if he were the planner. Penny is so aloof, she’d be a lot more easy-going than Leonard.”

    Yes! YE-HES!!!

  7. David4 says:

    She seems like such a nice person!

  8. Valerie Tower says:

    Great interview.

  9. Olivia says:

    I’m 56, and have to say that Big Bang Theory, and Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, are the only shows that have ever made me laugh out loud. I usually hate sitcoms. Kudo’s to the writers, and fantastic cast!

  10. Kathleen Harris says:

    Lisa Kudrow as a farmer’s wife, that would be a character change for her. Can’t seeing her coming to visit in a tight dress, But I also can’t see her looking midwestern either.

  11. volcfom says:

    Lisa Kudrow is 50 (man, does she looks great!), so it could totally work. I think it would be a good fit.

  12. Ima Sosure says:

    First of all, I love kaley and don’t mean anything hurtful here. I think Lisa Kudrow would be an excellent mom for Penny. I’m happy for her RL marriage because I think so highly of her and wish her happiness. I do hope that hideous tattoo is covered up on the show. Especially with the too short hair cut. Otherwise, she is the most expressive beautiful, comedian/actress on the tube. Can’t forget her impeccable timing either. You go Mrs. Hoffsteder,you finally have a last name. Maybe, if this actually comes to pass.

  13. Wayne Adney C. says:

    I’m on the same thought as Kaley with the smart, funny and dazzling Lisa Kudrow as Penny’s mom. [Laughs] Who else misses Friends? Glad I on the DVDs of all 10 seasons. [laughs]

  14. lironreeve says:

    I would have asked if we would finally learn Penny’s last name?

  15. DJ Doena says:

    “the gang will be geeking out until at least May 2017”

    Really? When have they geeked out the last time? They are all in more or less boring relationships having boring relationship problems.

    And Sheldon who was originally unaware that he terrorized his friends has become this deliberate bully who is mean to his “friends” on purpose (remember the red sweater episode?).

    Can anyone tell me why Leonard is with Penny, her looks aside?
    Can anyone tell me why Penny is with Leonard, aside from the fact that she knows he will never hurt her?

    • What are you watching?? Show is hilarious.

    • Julia says:

      Omg…..Penny and Leonard are perfect! This is the funniest show on tv. Anyone who thinks differently is WRONG!

    • Cheryl Thorpe says:

      Obviously you are NOT a fan. I, soon to be 65, absolutely LOOOOVE this show. And yes, they have “geeked out” from time to time. But that’s what makes this show popular (with me at least). It’s a bright spot during an otherwise busy week, that lets me relax and laugh.

      • DJ Doena says:

        > Obviously you are NOT a fan
        … anymore.

        I used to love the show. Back when Wolowitz put the Mars Rover into a ditch or when Sheldon was only mean to people by accident because he honestly didn’t know any better.

        Now? Now he’s forcing Leonard to wear a sweater, knowing full well that he’s going to cause Leonard pain and he just doesn’t care.

  16. Remember Sheldon said he saw a picture of her mother. Then said keep eating. So that points to some weight problems.

  17. Josh says:

    They should cast katy segal as her mother a nice homage to 10 simple rules

    • I agree..but also bring on the sister and brother..it would cute. Have them surprise her but they accidently go to the guys’ apt first. Let Sheldon take them to Penny’s and do his three knock thing. *lol*

  18. Lisa Kudrow would be funny, or as someone else suggested someone who was geeky, like Sheldon or Leonard.

  19. I think Lisa Kudrow would be perfect as Pennys mom

  20. Raj will be the wedding planner, and it will be a very girly wedding. Penny will get tired of the stress and want to elope.

  21. Jnr says:

    Jenna Elfman as the mum

  22. Frank says:

    My wife and I were ‘late-bloomer’ fans, having started watching the reruns in 2012. Haven’t missed an episode since! Definitely the best comedy! Thank you all of “Big Bang Theory”!!

  23. MJG66 says:

    I totally see where Kaley is coming from in hoping for Lisa Kudrow. Back when Friends was the big show I always thought Terri Garr should play Phoebe’s mother–and they got her!!! But . . . TBBT being what it is, she is more likely to get Rosanne as a mom (which could be hilarious), or even Katey Segal done up as a weird cross of Peg Bundy and her SOA character. Penny’s mom does sound like she got pregnant youngish, but Penny has at least one sister who already was married, and the meth-chemist brother; also, I don’t think Wyatt seems the man to knock up a girl significantly younger than he is. If they want to be really meta and super funny, they should get Melissa Gilbert to be her mom. The former Laura Ingles is age-appropriate, history of liking older men (Laura and Manly), not from Nebraska, but from a prairie. She is TV royalty, and the older sister of Melissa, one-time sex partner of Johnny on 2 shows. Oh! Or totally steal from Friends, get John Goodman in drag (comments on the show indicated Penny’s mom is a bit heavy)!! That would be right up there with Kathleen Turner as Chandler’s mom!!!!

  24. Duffy Johnson says:

    An Emmy nod for Kaley is long overdue. She’s a gem of a comic actor, having learned from one of the best, John Ritter (who, in turn, learned from the VERY best, Lucille Ball). I’ve been watching since the first episode and am very pleased the show has had such great success.

  25. AEG says:

    I think it would be hilarious if they chose Melissa Peterman (Reba, Baby Daddy) to play Penny’s mother.

  26. Linda says:

    I think Lisa Kudrow would be a great choose as Penny’s mom ……Especially if she used the waitress role from “Mad about you”

  27. My prediction: Penny’s mom will be played by Brett Butler.