Kaley Cuoco has no shame about experiencing like at first sight with Johnny Galecki.
Cuoco, 36, and Galecki, 47, starred as onscreen love interests Penny and Leonard Hofstadter on CBS’s hit sitcom The Big Bang Theory from 2007 to 2019. Along the way, their chemistry found its way off screen as the pair dated in real life from 2008 to 2010.
The exes opened up about the start of their romance in an excerpt from an upcoming oral history of the show, with Cuoco confessing, “I had a very big crush on Johnny early on.”
“I was so not even hiding it,” she said in an exclusive excerpt from The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series shared with Vanity Fair. “He has such swagger. We were both dating people at the time, but I 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.”
Still, Galecki was oblivious to Cuoco’s feelings for him at first.
“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.”
But according to Cuoco, there was no denying their characters’ “chemistry,” even before the pair made their attraction known off set.
“All the scenes up until we actually got together in real life, it was obvious there was always something there. There was chemistry and we were crushing on each other. That was the whole first season until we actually got together for real.”
Speaking about Penny’s first kiss with Leonard, which also served as the actors’ first kiss, Cuoco referenced a sexy kitten costume Penny wore to Leonard’s Halloween party.
“I knew I looked really cute in that outfit, so I was feeling really good about myself,” the Meet Cute star 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.”
Galecki chimed in, “I mean, Kaley Cuoco as a kitty cat? Come on!”
That said, Cuoco did admit, “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.”
As for when the actors decided to finally give in to their feelings for each other, they pointed to the 14th episode of season 1, “The Nerdvana Annihilation,” during a dream sequence when Leonard saves Penny in an elevator shaft.
Though the physical filming of the scene was “not an enjoyable experience,” according to Cuoco, she does “think we fell a little in love in that elevator shaft.”
Galecki agreed, “We felt something, yeah. I think that was a massive turning point [in our 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.”
Over a period of time, the couple’s connection grew, until Galecki invited Cuoco for a drink on the spur of the moment. (People)