Big Bang Theory

The unique place Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki fell ‘in love’ on the set of ‘The Big Bang Theory’

The former couple details how they went from co-stars to boyfriend-girlfriend to platonic best friends while shooting the CBS sitcom.

Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki are reflecting on their romance while starring in “The Big Bang Theory.”

The actors and former couple recalled having feelings for one another while shooting the CBS sitcom and the unique place where they fell in love in an excerpt of the upcoming book “The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series,” shared by Vanity Fair.

“I had a very big crush on Johnny early on. I was so not even hiding it. He has such swagger. We were both dating people at the time, but I only had eyes for Johnny,” Cuoco details in the candid conversation. “Then, when I found out he had eyes for me too, I was like, Uh‑oh, this is going to be trouble.”

The actors attends the People's Choice Awards at Microsoft Theater on Jan. 6, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.
The actors attends the People’s Choice Awards at Microsoft Theater on Jan. 6, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.Kevin Mazur / WireImage

“The Big Bang Theory” ran from 2007 to 2019. Cuoco and Galecki dated from 2008 to 2010 and remained friends amid their time working together. Their characters, Penny and Leonard, would go on to get married and start a family.

While the two had a crush on each other in real life, they shared their first kiss as co-stars during the show’s sixth episode titled “The Middle Earth Paradigm.” Dressed as a sexy kitten for her Halloween party, a drunk Penny kisses Leonard when her ex-boyfriend shows up.

“I knew I looked real cute in that outfit, so I was feeling really good about myself,” she said with a laugh. “And I knew he thought I looked cute because he commented on how cute I looked in that outfit earlier. But I was definitely nervous before that kiss.”

“All the scenes up until we actually got together in real life, it was obvious there was always something there,” Cuoco continued. “There was chemistry and we were crushing on each other. That was the whole first season until we actually got together for real.”

"The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation:" Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) share a kiss after he returns from the North Pole, on the Season Three premiere episode.
“The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation:” Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) share a kiss after he returns from the North Pole, on the Season Three premiere episode.CBS Photo Archive / CBS via Getty Images

Things took a sharp turn when, later in the season, they filmed an episode when Leonard has a dream where he saves Penny from an elevator shaft.

“We had to be in each other’s arms — and for quite some time, because it was a bit of a stunt that we were doing,” Galecki recalled, adding that it “took a while” to film. “Kaley didn’t look freaked out at all. In fact, she looked extremely happy in those arms. That was certainly one of the moments that I think…”

Cuoco then added, “I think we fell a little in love in that elevator shaft.”

Galecki said that they “felt something” and it was “a massive turning point” in their relationship. “At that point, both she and I knew that something mutual was felt, and that it was going to be more of a distraction from the work to try and continue to ignore it than to actually recognize it and surrender to it,” he said. NOW Awards
The cast attends an event together at Petco Park in San Diego, California.Frazer Harrison

Galecki and the other actors would regularly hang out after work without Cuoco. During a guys trip to Montecito, California, Galecki said he called Cuoco up and invited her to join them. She said she’d just broken up with her boyfriend and headed over.

Cuoco’s cabin was right next to Galecki’s and she called him asking him to kill a bug in her room.

“She said, ‘You have to come and kill it.’ I said, ‘I’m not doing that.’ Now, still to this day, I don’t know if this story is bulls— or not, and if she was flirting with me because she had just broken up with her boyfriend, but I did not go over to her cabin,” he said. “But apart from the bug, I smelled a rat and was thinking, ‘Is this your way of inviting me into your hotel room basically?’ Which she later admitted it was.”

The two didn’t act on their feelings until “the dust settled” from Cuoco’s breakup. Galecki made the first move by inviting her to have a drink with her at the Smoke House Restaurant in Burbank after rehearsal.

“I knew that was going to be trouble — getting a glass of wine with him. I knew. And we kissed at the bar!” Cuoco shared, noting that they “started kissing in the bar area, and then we were kissing in the parking lot.”

The two hide their relationship for months before telling their cast members, who all took it well.

As for their subsequent breakup, Galecki said, “It was hard” but they “never let it affect anybody, I don’t think.”

They shared that they even considered getting married at one point, but ultimately decided they were better off as friends. Galecki explained that he wanted to be more private about their relationship, while Cuoco was a more public person.

“I was very uncomfortable with being public about it, and I think that hurt Kaley’s feelings a little bit, and I can understand that. It certainly wasn’t because I was embarrassed of her or our relationship,” Galecki said, with Cuoco adding, “Johnny and I also ran out of things to talk about, because we’d be at work all day, and then we’d go back to one of our places together, and say, “So how was your day? Simon was funny today, right?” And we’d laugh because we had no mystery.”

The two would continue to work together for about nine years, with their characters also going through a breakup, make up and wedding. Through it all, they remained close.

“But here’s the thing … after twelve years together, we were practically married,” Cuoco said of working together. “We spent so much time together. I always knew Johnny and I were good.”

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