Kaley Cuoco Lied To Land This Role (And Doesn't Regret It)
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Highlights

  • Kaley Cuoco’s ability to make her characters memorable is evident in her roles on The Big Bang Theory and Harley Quinn, leading to high ratings and her massive net worth.
  • To land the role of Cassie Bowden in The Flight Attendant, Cuoco had to fib about reading the book.
  • Cuoco’s ability to bring humor and relatability to the character made the show a success.

Kaley Cuoco will forever be synonymous with portraying Penny Hofstadter on The Big Bang Theory. While other actors were considered for the role, after seeing the work that Cuoco did to make the character her own, it is hard to imagine anyone else as Leonard Hofstadter’s love interest. This is especially true given Cuoco’s ability to get guest stars to come on the show who had initially refused to take part.

It is not just with The Big Bang Theory that Cuoco has done her part to make her character a memorable one. As a result of her voice acting skills, Cuoco has been able to do the same with the TV series, Harley Quinn. Her talent as the lead character has continued to land the TV series with high ratings and why Harley Quinn has been so successful from 1999 through today. The ability to make characters memorable has also earned Cuoco a massive net worth in the process.

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Did Kaley Cuoco Get Paid More For The Flight Attendant Or The Big Bang Theory?

Fans love watching Kaley Cuoco as Penny on The Big Bang Theory and Cassie on The Flight Attendant, and she made a lot of money for one of these roles.

However, despite her critical acclaim from The Big Bang Theory and other projects Cuoco was a part of after the series ended, there was one role that Cuoco had to lie about to land, a move that she does not regret. Neither do executives or the showrunner for that matter, given that it became an instant success from the moment the first episode aired.


The Lie Kaley Cuoco Told To Be Cast In The Flight Attendant

The role that Cuoco had to lie about to land was for the lead in The Flight Attendant. To get the role of Cassie Bowden to the small screen, Cuoco had to look executives directly in the eye and fib. Fortunately for Cuoco, her ability to fudge the truth paid off. Otherwise, her success in another TV series after The Big Bang Theory may not have happened so shortly after the series had its finale.

“They said to me, ‘So you read the book? You love the book?'” Cuoco explained about her meeting with staff from her production company, Yes, Norman. “‘Oh yeah, I totally read the book.’ And I had not read the book, but I knew I would like it.”

Kaley Cuoco on the red carpet
via Instar

Cuoco went on to say, “So I just kind of told a little white lie to get this stuff going because it takes a long time.”

In reality, Cuoco had only seen the cover of the novel that the show is based on and read the “one-line description” that the book provided.

At the time, Reese Witherspoon was finding novels and purchasing the rights to them to produce them for her own production company, Hello Sunshine. Cuoco was of the mind that Witherspoon had likely already purchased the rights to The Flight Attendant. But she had her lawyer check just in case.

“Can you just quickly find out if Reese Witherspoon has the rights to this book?” Cuoco asked her attorney.

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Kaley Cuoco Admits She Was Nearly Removed From ‘TBBT’ Amid Rumors Of ‘The Flight Attendant’ Being Canceled

While Cuoco’s role as Penny was loved by everyone, the actress revealed that the creators almost scrapped the idea of a female character.

When it was discovered that Witherspoon had not, Cuoco jumped at the opportunity.

“OK, this is the book; this is the show,” Cuoco said. “And my team’s like, ‘What do you mean?’ I’m like, ‘Just don’t ask questions; let’s get it!'”

Once the rights were purchased, Cuoco got to work with her production company to get the series off the ground, the first that Cuoco produced.

Why Kaley Cuoco Was A Hit In The Flight Attendant

When The Flight Attendant was being scripted, the adaptation from the novel was dark. Co-showrunner, Steve Yockey could have been concerned that what was being brought to the small screen was too heavy for audiences to be a success. But, after Yockey sat down with Cuoco, he recognized that her personality would keep The Flight Attendant from being too dire.

Instead, the script could go dark and the character could be “messed up,” bringing a relatability to Cassie Bowden that might not have otherwise existed.

Kaley Cuoco on the red carpet
via Instar

“When you sit down with her, she has this humor, and your brain is kind of running already like, ‘Oh, I can make this character as dark and messed up as she needs to be,'” Yockey explained to Digital Spy, “‘because Kaley is going to be playing the role and that’s going to bring this lift to it’.”

Lift and life are exactly what Cuoco brought to the role of Cassie and critics received it well as a result.

“It’s a canny move on the part of creator Steve Yockey to frame a darkly humorous take on the detective story around what seems like a harmless, spin-class taking, phone-dependent millennial woman,” critic Sonia Saraiya wrote.

“Cassie’s actual superficiality is her greatest asset as she attempts to do something a little more substantive than drink in different languages.”

Saraiya went on to say, “And in her irritating flightiness, her self-obsessed disorganization, Cassie does feel pretty real. She’s fun to watch, but a little tragic, too: Cuoco amps up all of her sitcom-honed physical comedy to make Cassie into that messy acquaintance who you love to run into at parties and otherwise do your best to avoid. It’s not that she’s ill-intentioned, but there’s a lot going on there—and if you’re not on an airplane, she’s remarkably unreliable, chasing the next good time before the current one has even ended. Maybe that’s the most brilliant twist in Cuoco’s performance as Cassie: She’s playing a character who isn’t put together or impressive, but rather just this side of annoying—and somehow you end up rooting for her anyway.”

What is interesting about The Flight Attendant and The Big Bang Theory is that Cuoco was cast to play dark characters. While that worked for The Flight Attendant, the executives of The Big Bang Theory recognized that Cuoco’s comedic talents would be better received. As such, the role of Penny was completely revamped with Cuoco in mind.

The Original Female Lead In The Big Bang Theory Was Supposed To Be Dark

The way audiences saw the male lead characters from The Big Bang Theory was how they were envisioned from day one. This vision included the male cast members not being able to grow beards to not interfere with their nerdy personas.

However, when it came to the lead female character, she was written entirely differently. Instead of the bubbly personality that Penny had, the original character, Katie, was supposed to be darker. Cuoco was dismissed as being a contender for the role given her light and bright energy when auditioning.

Kaley Cuoco in The Big Bang Theory
via CBS

“She’s so sunny and bubbly, and they just loved her, but she just didn’t bring the dark qualities,” Ken Miller, the casting director for The Big Bang Theory explained. “She just wasn’t the essence of Penny in that first incarnation.”

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After executives saw the table read in which Jodi Lyn O’Keefe was reading the part of Katie, they put a kibosh on what they saw and heard. They wanted the character rewritten. As such, a happier and friendlier Midwest character was born, a character that the casting director recalled Cuoco had and asked her to come back in and read.

In the end, the role went to Cuoco and she became a household name as a result. Not only was the rewrite of Penny the right direction to go for the success of the show, but now audiences could not imagine anyone other than Cuoco in the role, a feat that she was able to replicate for her Emmy-nominated role in The Flight Attendant.

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