What Happened To Amanda Walsh Who Played The Original Penny In The Unaired Big Bang Theory Pilot?


Highlights

  • The Big Bang Theory’s original pilot didn’t work because audiences hated the original Penny.
  • Amanda Walsh’s original Penny (AKA “Katie”) character was misconceived, leading to her eventual firing from the show.
  • After being let go from The Big Bang Theory, Walsh found success in other roles.


By the time The Big Bang Theory ended, the show’s stars had all become internationally famous. On top of that, The Big Bang Theory made the show’s cast very rich and they reportedly became friends in real life as well.

Given everything The Big Bang Theory did for its cast, it is amazing to think that Kaley Cuoco almost didn’t get to star in the show. The reason for that is a Canadian actor named Amanda Walsh was going to portray the show’s female lead instead. While it is unfortunate for Walsh that she got fired from The Big Bang Theory, she has been very busy since then.


Why Was The Big Bang Theory’s Pilot Unaired?

By the year 2007, Chuck Lorre had already become incredibly successful in the television business. The reason for that is Lorre had either co-created or been the showrunner for sitcoms like Grace Under Fire, Cybill, Dharma & Greg, as well as Two and a Half Men.

Chuck Lorre, The Big Bang Theory and Two And A Half Men
The Things

Given Lorre’s pedigree, it makes sense that CBS was willing to bet on Lorre’s newest idea for a show, The Big Bang Theory. After getting the money to produce a pilot, it initially seemed like CBS’ faith in Lorre may have been misplaced.

In 2022, Lorre and his The Big Bang Theory co-creator Bill Prady were interviewed by Entertainment Weekly. During the resulting conversation, Lorre and Prady revealed that The Big Bang Theory’s original pilot didn’t work because audiences hated one character.

Jim Parsons, Sheldon
The Things

As Prady explained, “In the first pilot, the female character (who, at that point, was named Katie) is kind of rough. She’s dangerous in a way and wasn’t very nice to the guys. I remember going to the test screening, the dial testing…”

Related: Jim Parsons And Mayim Bialik Were Uncomfortable With A Big Bang Theory Guest Star Who Made A Scene Harder Than It Needed To Be

At that point, Lorre interrupted to say, “Yeah, the audience hated her.” In response to Lorre, Prady completely echoed his co-creator’s sentiments and then explained what the show had going for it. “They hated her, but what was amazing was that they were defending Leonard and Sheldon so much.”

For most The Big Bang Theory fans, a character named Katie isn’t going to ring any bells. However, the character Katie was meant to hold the place in the show’s cast that Penny eventually took up. According to Lorre and Prady, there was a very specific problem with the character Katie. As Lorre explained to Entertainment Weekly, Katie was too mean to Leonard and Sheldon.

“Yeah, we didn’t realize early on that the audience viewed them as children. They were very naive and childlike, regardless of how intelligent they were. They were very vulnerable, and the audience didn’t want a toxic presence around them.”

Kaley Cuoco and Amanda Walsh side by side
Via: Instar

Lorre continued, “That’s why we rewrote Katie to become Penny [Kaley Cuoco] and made her much more charmed by the guys and kind to them, as opposed to a woman who would take advantage of them.”

When the interviewer asked The Big Bang Theory’s co-creators about who portrayed Katie, they named and praised the actor.

Did Kaley Cuoco's Horrendous Accident Impact Her Experience Filming The Big Bang Theory_
Via: TheThings

First, Prady said, “The actress was Amanda Walsh, and she did a great job playing that character.” Lorre completely agreed with Prady and placed the blame on themselves for Katie not working as a character. “She was terrific in the role, but the role was misconceived. It was our responsibility.”

Related: Johnny Galecki And The Big Bang Theory Cast Got The Wrong Impression Of Kaley Cuoco’s Friend Circle Outside Of The Show

As Prady went on to explain, Walsh auditioned to portray Penny once the character was reconceived. Unfortunately for Walsh, however, based on Prady’s remarks to Entertainment Weekly, she never really had a chance.

“Yeah, she was actually a very sweet person, and it was a lot of work for her to become that rough character. Afterward, she wanted to come back in for the new version of Penny, but she had been so identified as that first character that it wasn’t able to happen.”

What Happened To Amanda Walsh After She Was Fired From The Big Bang Theory?

In 2022, Jessica Radloff’s book The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story Of The Epic Hit Series was published. When Radloff was working on her book, she spoke to Amanda Walsh about being fired from The Big Bang Theory. During that conversation, Walsh explained how it felt to find out the show was going to happen without her.

Amanda Walsh smiling
Via: Instar

“I found out that Big Bang Theory wasn’t getting picked up, either, but it was going to be retooled—except with a new character, without me. It’s never a call you wanna get as an actor, but Bill was as nice as possible about the whole thing.” As Walsh went on to explain, the director of the pilot, James Burrows, cast her in another role which helped her feel better.

“I was really fortunate that a year later, Burrows hired me for another pilot called The Mastersons of Manhattan with Molly Shannon and Natasha Richardson. For me, that really validated the notion of ‘It’s not you,’ because as an actor, you always question that.”

What Happened To Amanda Walsh Who Played The Original Penny In The Unaired Big Bang Theory Pilot_
Via: TheThings

Walsh continued, “So, to get rehired by the same people for another big project was very, very validating. And I’ve been brought in for other projects of Chuck’s, and Nikki and Ken have always said that Chuck is a fan [of mine], which helps a lot.”

Related: The First Cast Member Of The Big Bang Theory To Find Out About Kaley Cuoco And Johnny Galecki’s Secret Relationship Did So By Accident

Fortunately for Walsh, being hired by Burrows is far from the only role she got after TBBT. Most notably, Walsh got recurring roles in the shows Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and Sons & Daughters as well as movies like Ghosts of Girlfriends Past.

In addition to continuing to act, Walsh’s entertainment career took a surprising turn. Walsh worked behind the scenes on the beloved sitcom Schitt’s Creek as she wrote an episode and extensively served as a story editor on the show.

Amanda Walsh and her husband Robert Baker
Via: Instagram @armandoleewalsh

Thanks to everything Walsh has accomplished in her career, she has amassed an impressive fortune. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Walsh has a $3 million fortune as of this writing.

In terms of Walsh’s private life, she appears to have found love. According to Whos Dated Who, Walsh has been in a long-term relationship with Robert Baker since 2012.

However, it seems likely that Walsh and Baker actually are married. The reason that appears to be the case is based on a photo that Walsh shared of herself and Baker on Instagram. In the image, Walsh appears to be wearing a wedding dress and Baker has a suit or tuxedo on.





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