It’s a tale as old as time: Actors play love interests, develop mutual crushes, have an uncomfortable first kiss on camera in front of dozens of their colleagues, and unsuccessfully try to hide their relationship from the boss. Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki are not the first costars to enter such a relationship, nor will they be the last.
The Big Bang Theory actors and real life exes recount their costars-to-lovers trajectory in a new oral history of the hit television show, The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series, written by Glamour’s Jessica Radloff.
In an exclusive excerpt from the book shared with Vanity Fair, Cuoco says that her attraction to Galecki, was immediate. “I had a very big crush on Johnny early on,” she says. “I was so not even hiding it.”
Though the pair were both dating other people when they met, she adds that she “only had eyes for Johnny. Then, when I found out he had eyes for me too, I was like, Uh‑oh, this is going to be trouble.”
Like most straight men, Galecki says that he was oblivious to Cuoco’s feelings in the early days. “I have a healthy ego, but you really have to kind of club me over the head to let me know you’re flirting with me,” he said. “I had zero idea of any sort of crush before Kaley and I began dating.”
Leonard and Penny shared their first kiss before Galecki and Cuoco, and if you’re thinking, Wow, kissing your crush in a professional context in front of all your colleagues sounds really uncomfortable, you’d be correct.
“I was very nervous with both [our onscreen and real-life first kisses]. I mean, I was kissing him as Penny before we ever dated, and it’s weird when you have a crush on someone and you’re kissing them as actors,” Cuoco said.
The Big Bang Theory aired for 12 seasons between 2007 and 2019, and starred Galecki as Leonard Hofstadter and Cuoco as Penny. The actors dated in real life between 2008 and 2010, and say that their offscreen chemistry contributed to the lovable dynamic between their characters, even after the IRL relationship ended.
“We’ve always had each other’s backs, and you can’t lose that,” Cuoco said.
Kaley Cuoco is currently dating Ozark’s Tom Pelphrey. In 2020, Johnny Galecki split from Alaina Meyer, with whom he shares three-year-old son Avery.
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