Had a blast on a recent trip to Los Angeles and to the set of The Big Bang Theory, which has quietly become the No. 1-rated comedy in Canada. It's poised to overtake Two and a Half Men in the U.S. (especially if Charlie Sheen's departure reduces that show to One and a Half Men). Throughout March, Big Bang averaged 2,093,000 viewers a week in Canada on CTV, where it has flourished ever since being moved out of the 'A' witness protection plan.
The three-year-old series is shot on stage 25 of the Warner Bros. studio lot in Burbank, Ca., the same soundstage where the original, late '80s version of V was produced as well as the old James Garner western Maverick (1957-62). Over the years, it has a much more storied history as a movie soundstage, housing scenes from such Warner Bros. classics as Casablanca, Giant, Bonnie & Clyde, Blade Runner, Batman Returns and Dave.
The five main cast members--Johnny Galecki (above, left, being interviewed on the set), Jim Parsons, Kaley Couco (her names translates as "cook" in Italian, according to the WB press pack), Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar--gave the four international press groupings about 20 minutes each. We all sat on directors chairs in front of various Big Bang set pieces. Our group, which consisted of reporters from Australia, the U.K., France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Spain, Mexico and Singapore, was in the apartment hallway in front of the out-of-order elevator door.
The groups were fairly close to one another and occasionally one cast member had to holler over to another to keep it down over there. All appeared relaxed and friendly, basking in the success of the series as it takes off in Season Three. Couco appeared the most blase about the press day, suggesting her family always insisted she maintain a strong interest in something else throughout her acting career:
KALEY CUOCO: Yeah. The show's changed my life.
Let's face it. It's a very strange show. Strange
people watching. It's strange reactions. When we
first started the show, people hated it. They
didn't get it at all, and it's kind of become this
weird little phenomenon. I can't believe I'm even
saying that. It gets bigger and bigger every week.
Just over the past year, it's changed my life.
Yeah. Just been a little -- really out there now.
Interesting. I'm a very private person, so we -- it
happened so fast.
QUESTION: So how do you deal with that kind of new
KALEY CUOCO: I don't know. You just do it. Again,
like I said, I'm such an aloof person. I was
telling them someone might be looking at me, and I'm
thinking there might be something on my face. I
don't even think that they're thinking anything
else. I don't think about the show. The minute I
leave this set, I don't know. It's completely a
different lifestyle. So you know, I have a lot of
animals. Very grounded. I live on a ranch, horses.
That's the favorite part of my life.
QUESTION: Big animals.
KALEY CUOCO: Yeah.
KALEY CUOCO: Uh-huh. Horses, dogs.
QUESTION: How many?
KALEY CUOCO: Three horses, four dogs. Oh, yeah.
I'm very involved in the animal world. That's what
keeps me grounded.
QUESTION: What else do you like to do in your spare
KALEY CUOCO: I show horses. That's my other life.
Minute I leave here, I'm at the ranch.
QUESTION: Show jumping?
KALEY CUOCO: Uh-huh.
QUESTION: So you ride and jump?
KALEY CUOCO: Uh-huh. Every weekend.
QUESTION: That must be the producer's nightmare.
KALEY CUOCO: They don't know the extent of it. I
think they think I go pet my horse and give him a
carrot. I don't think they know exactly what's
going on. But, yeah. We'll keep that between us.
QUESTION: Of course.
QUESTION: We won't tell anyone.
KALEY CUOCO: I'm sure. I have to -- I've always
said, and as a kid, my parents too, if you're going
to do something, whatever your job is going to be,
you have to have something else that you like,
either more important, but something else. So this
has never been the only thing in my life. I think
that's why I feel so normal. It's just another
thing to do. Another job. I don't look at it as
A bit later, I asked the 23-year-old actress, who previously starred opposite the late John Ritter on 8 Simple Rules..., how she coped with this level of success and attention. Her answer, I thought, was usually candid for a young star on a hot series:
KALEY CUOCO: Yeah. It's not crazy, and again, I am
so aloof. I really am. I don't even know what's
happening half the time. I'm always shocked when
anyone has seen the show. I'm genuinely -- I can't
believe it. Like I said, when I leave here, there's
no "Big Bang Theory" at home. I don't bring that in
my house. There's nothing in my family's house. I
get home, they're like, "Will you help me with the
dishes?" It's nothing. It's never been that way.
I just live a totally different life than what's
going on here, which makes me appreciate this so
much. I don't live it all over the place.
QUESTION: Was that something that came from your
KALEY CUOCO: Yes.
QUESTION: Child actor --
KALEY CUOCO: Yeah. I started when I was five years
old. So like I said before, it was always I had to
be doing more than one thing. If I wanted to play a
sport, I wasn't just going to be playing a sport. I
had to go do something else. So with rejection, I
could go to something else, and that's how I feel
today. If I didn't have animals, horses, a
different world than what I am here, you get so
sucked in and become obsessed with what you're
doing. You don't appreciate it anymore because you
feel it's your life. This is not real life. This
is a little weird world. This is not real. It's
just not real.
QUESTION: You're so immersed in it. You've had a
career in it. You would think it would become your
KALEY CUOCO: It will never become my reality, ever.
There's no way, because I'm not going to have this
forever. I'm just going to enjoy it now, and the
minute it's gone, I'll have other things to do.
This will never become my reality.
It's not my reality, either, but that didn't stop the three Canadians who took part in the Warner Bros. International press event--The Toronto Sun's Bill Harris, CTV.ca new media dude Tyrone Warner and myself--from having our photo snapped on the Big Bang set. (All photos courtesy Warner Bros. International.) Clearly the nerdy spinoff has been cast. Tonight's episode (9:31 p.m., CBS and CTV), "The Wheaton Recurrence," finds the guys facing off against Sheldon's nemisis, former ST: TNG kid Will Wheaton. Read the rest of The Star story here.