Johnny Galecki Risked Losing His Chance To Play Leonard In The Big Bang Theory


  • Galecki declined playing Leonard on Big Bang Theory five times due to lack of complete script and understanding of the show’s premise.
  • Producers considered other actors for Leonard, including John Ross Bowie, before successfully landing Johnny Galecki for the role.
  • Galecki’s Broadway dreams and personal life in New York made him initially uninterested in committing to sitcom role.

The Big Bang Theory may have wrapped its spectacular 12-season run years ago, but fans are no less fascinated with the show. Since then, a number of truly titillating behind the scenes tidbits have come to light; one of the most intriguing being how difficult it was to cast Johnny Galecki in the show.


Johnny Galecki Surprised The View Hosts After He Revealed Why He Was Hanging Around Less With His TBBT Co-Stars

Johnny Galecki’s interview on The View took a very uncomfortable twist, but The Big Bang Theory actor handled it with class.

Not only did Galecki shy away from portraying Sheldon, he also declined the role of Leonard an astounding five times! So, why exactly was the Roseanne star so opposed to taking on the iconic role? Read on to find out.

Johnny Galecki Turned Down Playing Leonard Five Times In A Row

The Big Bang Theory fans will attest that Leonard Hofstadter, portrayed by Roseanne star Johnny Galecki for the show’s entire twelve-season run, was pivotal to the show’s enduring success.

By the time the show closed its final chapter, Johnny Galecki’s unbeatable on-screen chemistry with Jim Parsons, who portrayed Leonard’s neurotic roommate and best friend, Sheldon Cooper, had become such a focal point of the show that it would have been difficult for fans to imagine any other person portraying the character.

But there was a time when casting someone else in the role was a real possibility, as bringing Galecki onboard had turned into an uphill battle. In an interview for Jessica Radloff’s The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series, Chuck Lorre recounts just how difficult it was to land Galecki for the role.


Kunal Nayyar Felt Disconnected From A Kaley Cuoco And Johnny Galecki Scene On TBBT

Kunal Nayyar made a comment about Kaley Cuoco’s “I love you” scene on The Big Bang Theory alongside Johnny Galecki.

“Johnny turned it down five times in a row. He said that you and [executive producer] Bill [Prady] were sending fax pages to him because he was in New York doing a play and he was just getting pages here and there, it wasn’t a complete script.”

Johnny Galecki Almost Lost The Role Of Leonard To Another Big Bang Theory Cast Member

Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco Big Bang
via CBS

The Big Bang Theory fans might find the idea of Leonard being portrayed by anyone other than Johnny Galecki downright bizarre, but before producers finally nailed down the Roseanne star for the role, they were seriously considering giving it to another Big Bang Theory cast member.

In a 2012 Tumblr blog, John Ross Bowie, who ultimately ended up playing Barry Kripke, revealed that he was at one point a top contender for the role.


Kaley Cuoco And Johnny Galecki Disagreed About Going Public With Their Relationship

Kaley Cuoco didn’t particularly relish the idea of keeping her two-year romance with Johnny Galecki a secret.

“I’d read for The Big Bang Theory a few times before the Kripke audition (including two auditions for Leonard – there’s an alternate cosmology out there where I’m Leonard and Kevin Sussman is Sheldon. DID I JUST BLOW YOUR MIND?),” he wrote.

Why Was Johnny Galecki So Uninterested In Playing Leonard?

Johnny Galecki
via ET

Johnny Galecki’s career and net worth have gotten a lot of mileage from The Big Bang Theory, so it’s a bit of a shocker that he even contemplated turning down his iconic role in the show. However, as it turns out, the Roseanne star’s reasons for rejecting the part were completely understandable. For starters, Galecki was having a pretty hard time understanding the producers’ vision for the show.

Actors who almost landed roles in The Big Bang Theory

Actor TBBT Role
Kevin Sussman Sheldon Cooper
Kate Micucci Amy Farrah Fowler
Macaulay Culkin Unknown
Brie Larson Unknown
Amanda Walsh Katie (A Penny-esque character in an unsuccessful pilot of the show)

“I was really struggling with how to understand the premise, the tone, the characters, because I was just getting a page here and there,” he shared in an interview for The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series. “And at the time, they were talking to me about the Sheldon role but I just couldn’t make sense of it.”

Also, at the time, the now 48-year-old was happily chasing his Broadway dreams in New York, and the thought of ditching all that to commit to a sitcom with a premise he couldn’t wrap his head around was utterly unappealing to him.

“I was also very happy being in New York [The Big Bang Theory would shoot in Los Angeles]. The Little Dog Laughed was about to go to Broadway, and I was in love with a beautiful Belarusian woman,” he shared in The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series.

“And the original material wasn’t exciting enough for me to leave my life in New York to do this sitcom that I only had nine pages of.”

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