Behind the Scenes with Cast and Writers of THE BIG BANG THEORY
The TCA Winter Press Tour and Warner Brothers gave writers and cast of The Big Bang Theory a chance to give the press a brief inside look into the behind-the-scenes world of this monumentally successful CBS comedy series.
A Place to Laugh
Executive Producer Chuck Lorre broke the ice by referencing his tendancy to insert “places to laugh” in writers’ scripts, constantly challenging the writers to do better and be funnier. Writer Don Reo said, “It’s a quest for excellence, really. Chuck will put your feet to the fire. It’s gotten to the point that we hear his voice, even when he’s not in the writers’ room.” Added Lee Aronsohn, “Actually, Chuck has a vision for all his shows that we writers just get in tune with. And I’m very grateful to him for giving us all credit, but we have to give him credit too, because without Chuck, none of our jobs would exist.”
All About the Rhythm
Jim Parsons (Sheldon) frankly expressed, “I would like to add that Chuck was a musician before he was a writer. And I think one of the common things with all his shows is a rhythm. It’s like, we need the beat. And I think that one of the reasons all Chuck’s shows repeat so well in syndication is because of that rhythm. You know what’s going to happen, you saw it three other times, but it’s like a good pop song. It’s enjoyable to dance to again. You get to be in a great band. And I think related to that is clarity too. I think one of the big issues is that a lot of times in rehearsals, Chuck will come in and clean up something between us (the cast) and the writers, and we’ll go, ‘Oh, yeah, that makes a lot more sense,’ and then the audience is free to laugh and not be confused. It’s a very clear storytelling style.”
Bill Prady added, “And Chuck genuinely enjoys the shows he’s producing. That’s not always true with every producer. But, I think it’s actually one of the big secrets to the success of the shows Chuck produces.”
Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting (Penny) continued, “Also, Chuck has such a personal relationship with all of us now and he’s gotten to know us all so well, along with our personalities. He’s writing about each one of us. It’s gotten so personal.”
But their personalities didn’t always click. Parsons and Johnny Galecki (Leonard) are the only two original cast members, with the previous remaining cast replaced prior to series premiere. Galecki can clearly recall
the magic that was present when he read with the premiere cast.
New Cast on Board
The cast, of course, has grown in the last few years, with the successful additions of Bernadette (Melissa Rauch) and Amy (Mayim Bialik). This could have spelled disaster for the series, but the transition appeared to be a smooth one. Rauch said, “I was a huge fan of the show before I joined the cast, and I actually remember seeing on the sheet at the audition that Chuck was going to be there. I was so excited, and I remember the first time I heard Chuck’s laugh. It’s something that you really look forward to hearing all the time. As a fan of the show, I would have hated myself if it had not worked so well and I had ruined a show that I liked so much. I think the credit really goes to the writers and how they gradually brought us in. I thought I’d be on for one or two episodes, and it was just a dream come true that it became something more than that. And, the cast was so welcoming from day one. It’s just a testament to Chuck for being the comedy whisperer.”
Bialik added, “I had actually never seen the show when I auditioned, and I was specifically instructed to do my best imitation of this actor called Jim Parsons. I think absolutely that our writing is what created Sheldon. And I was not looking to do a female version of Sheldon, but I do think the writing lent itself to a female counterpart for this quirky character who didn’t quite interact socially, the way other people did. But the week that I was asked to join the cast, I thought was my last week. I thought my plot was done, and I was going to be let go.”
Personalities That Click
Lorre clarified, “I think what happened with Mayim and Melissa is what happened with every actor up here on this panel. As writers, we fall in love with them; we really do. It’s not hyperbole. We fall in love with them. And, in turn, it becomes a joy to write for them and to imagine what they might say or do at any given moment. It’s fun when you care about the characters.”
As for the Finale, Lorre was asked if he writes from the heart or considers what fans might like. He simply replied, “You can’t presume to know an audience. It’s too many people. You can’t ask people’s opinions. You have to go with what’s in your heart.”
The Big Bang Theory airs Thursday nights at 8 on CBS.