Our whole universe was in a hot, dense state… that is until this crew of genius actors fell into our world with a BANG! Now, life is as cool as can be, but we still can’t get enough of Sheldon’s social quirks or Leonard’s trials in love. So, we checked out what Jim Parsons, John Galecki, Kayley Cuoco, and the whole cast of The Big Bang Theory are up to off the set. Come see for yourself how similar the actors are to the characters they play on TV.
Kevin Sussman as Stuart Bloom
Many people think of Stuart as being one of the gang since the beginning of the show, but actually, Stuart was not in season one of the Big Bang Theory. He was introduced in the second season as the owner of the Comic Book Store, and is seen as a lonely guy who has a pretty sad life. He struggles financially, he can’t get a girlfriend (despite managing a date with Penny before Leonard does!) and he has few friends. He bonds with Raj during the show, and ends up living with Howard and Bernadatte for a time, too.
Kevin didn’t start his career with TBBT, he had already been in a number of roles, including the movie AI in 2001. But this show is what has made him a household name. He appeared as a guest star from seasons 2 until season 6, where he was promoted to a season regular. You might also remember that he was a guest star in the popular TV show Weeds, for three episodes as Terry in Season Eight.
Margo Harshman as Alex Jensen
The story-line for Alex Jenson was a crowdpleaser, where Alex came into the show as Sheldon’s assistant. Very smart, Sheldon wasn’t interested in having her help with actual research, instead giving her menial tasks to complete for him. When Alex met Leonard, she was instantly attracted to him, spiking Penny’s jealousy. Leonard was oblivious, until Alex made her move, but loyal as ever, he turned her down. Good for him!
Margo was well used to life on screen when she was cast as Alex, as she grew up as a child actress on the show Even Stevens with none other than Hollywood superstar, Shia LaBeouf. Although she has had roles since The Big Bang Theory, such as on Bones and NCIS, she hasn’t really found a huge break out role for success. She is only 31 years old, so her best acting days might still be ahead of her.
Brooke D’Orsay as Christy Vanderbel
One of the funniest guest stars, Christy is the visiting cousin of Penny, although they aren’t actually related. Penny feels obliged to let her stay for a while, but regrets the decision when Christy sleeps with Howard in Penny’s bedroom. Howard keeps buying Christy stuff, so she stays around for the shopping sprees, but disappears once Howard’s mother, Mrs Wolowitz makes it very clear that she won’t be getting any money if she stays in the picture.
Although Brooke has stepped away from acting for the time being, she has a pretty impressive acting CV behind her. As well as this small role on the Big Bang Theory, she is best known for being the voice of Caitlin in the animated show, 6teen. She’s also been spotted in shows like Two and a Half Men, How I Met Your Mother, and Happy Hour. She is a Canadian actress, born in Toronto.
Courtney Henggeler as Missy Cooper
Sheldon’s twin sister could not be less like Sheldon. She is not a genius, and she is super good looking! She appears in season one, at which point Leonard, Howard and Raj all fall hopelessly for her, finding different ways to flirt and ask her out. Sheldon realises what’s going on, and announces that he gets to choose who dates his sister. Missy is rescued by Penny, and the two disappear, leaving the guys lonely and confused as to why they have turned her off.
Courtney hadn’t been in that many roles before she got the part of Sheldons sister, and the writers haven’t seen any reason to bring the character back for other episodes or seasons. However, Courtney has managed to snag some other acting parts, most notably the part of Claudia in the sitcom, Mom. Other famous actresses who took part in the show are Anna Faris and Allison Janney. She also starres as Kate in the movie Feed, which came out last year.
Alessandra Torresani as Claire
Claire plays the part of a cool girl who Raj gets really into after meeting her at the comic book store. The feeling is clearly mutual as she asks him to help her out on her children’s sci-fi script, but Raj takes things too far, breaking up with his current girlfriend Emily for her. She is clearly freaked out by the move, but the pair do end up dating for a while at least.
Alessandra’s career is one to watch, even though she hasn’t been listed as a guest star or series regular on The Big Bang Theory for the next two seasons. Before this show ever aired, she had already appeared on a few TV shows, such as Two and a Half Men, and Husbands. She just completed a movie project, acting as Amber in the movie Step Sisters. With fans naming her one of Raj’s favourite exes on the show, the future looks bright!
Sara Rue as Stephanie Barnett
Remember Stephanie from season 2? She fell for Leonard after Howard tried his luck with her, much to Howard’s deep upset! Leonard dated her for a short time, and the pair have a great honeymoon period which then becomes too much for Leonard when she comes on far too strong too quickly. She almost moves into their apartment, which Sheldon loves, but then Leonard has to end it all, the worst way possible – via text message.
Sara’s fame does not come from her part on The Big Bang Theory, as the roles shes known best for are as Carmen on the show Popular, and Claude in Less than Perfect. You might also know her from the TV Land comedy show, Impastor. She has been married to Kevin Price since 2011, and the pair have two daughters together, one of whom was adopted in 2016. If you’re a fan of the TV show Bones, you might also have spotted her guest starring as Karen in 2016/17.
Brian Patrick Wade as Kurt
The thing about Kurt, is that the whole point of the character was to be the polar opposite of Sheldon and Leonard. While Sheldon and Leonard are super smart but physically unimpressive, Kurt is about as muscular as a guy can get, tall and strong, but about as stupid as they come! He was Penny’s ex boyfriend, and the back story is that they lived together for four years. It takes Penny some time to get over him, and his meeting with Leonard does not go well!
Brian Patrick Wade
Brian Patrick Wade only had a small role in the Big Bang Theory, but he had no shortage of other acting parts to enjoy. He was in Two and a Half Men, Arrested Development, as well as Agents of SHIELD. You might remember him as Fatneck in Bring it On Again. It seems that acting isn’t top of his to do list, as he’s started a career as a personal trainer, and is putting his acting on the back burner for now.
Riki Lindhome as Ramona Nowitzki
Ramona is a cal tech employee who becomes somewhat obsessed with Sheldon and his work. She meets him in the cafeteria at work, and then sets up multiple ways to get close to him, including helping him with research, dinner at this apartment, and showing up at his office. She makes the fatal mistake of asking to share credit with him on his research however, and he sends her away. Later, she comes back and makes a move on him, which prompts him to rush to Amy’s side and propose marriage.
Perhaps one of the most famous guest stars on the show, Riki actually had her own show with fellow Big Bang Theory alumnus, Kate Miccuci. The show was called Garfunkel and Oates, and included their original songs as a folk singing duo, and was a Netflix sensation. Riki has also been seen in other TV work, but more notably in movies such as Million Dollar Baby and Under the Silver Lake. She reprised her role as Ramona to help the storyline of Sheldon and Amy’s proposal.
Kate Micucci as Lucy
Lucy is one of Raj’s girlfriends. They met at a Valentine’s Day party for singles at a comic book shop, so it was like love at first sight. At first, Lucy is extremely socially awkward, and hates putting herself in situations where she has to be social. She also has a tough time saying no to people, causing her to sometimes lie just to be able to agree with everyone. Of course, by the end of Season 6, she finds Raj to be way too overbearing, and ends up breaking their relationship off.
New Jersey-born Kate Micucci, has had her share of roles in funny sitcoms. She’s been featured on How I Met Your Mother, Malcolm in the Middle, Cory in the House, ‘Til Death, and Campus Ladies. She’s also had recurring roles in the shows Raising Hope and hit comedy series, Scrubs. She doesn’t just stick to shows, however, she’s also played in a number of movies including Bart Got a Room, The Last Hurrah, and When in Rome.
Aarti Mann as Priya Koothrappali
Priya started the show as Raj’s little sister, but soon moved on to be the girlfriend of Leonard. While her main role seemed to be as an obstacle to Leonard and Penny’s happiness, the pair did have quite a good relationship, starting while Priya was in the city, and the moving to long distance over Skype and telephone. Priya’s parents certainly do not approve, and in the end, the couple can’t make it work, clearing a path for Penny and Leonard to make a go of it.
Since her role on the Big Bang Theory, Aarti has had several high profile shows ask for her to take part, including hit show Scandal, as well as Grey’s Anatomy. You might also have seen her in the show Suits, playing Maria Monroe. She will also be playing Jiah, in the show Love Sonia, showing that TV is clearly where this actress feels most comfortable. For us, she’ll always be Raj’s baby sister through and through!
John Ross Bowie as Barry Kripke
Barry Kripke is everyone’s favorite arch nemesis, and we love watching Sheldon and Barry face off in their numerous altercations with one another. Barry also works at the university, and is a smart guy, who is better looking than the guys too. His only problem is his personality, and a pretty noticeable speech impediment too. For a short time, they thought about making him part of the gang, but the dynamic wasn’t quite right.
John Ross Bowie
Originally a comedian rather than an actor, John Ross Bowie is a writer and a performer in the comedy stratosphere, and very well known amongst his peers. He does love acting though, and as well as being a recurring guest star on the Big Bang Theory, you will have spotted him in movies like What The Bleep Do We Know, as well as He’s Just Not That Into You. He is married to fellow comedian Jamie Denbo, and they have a son and a daughter together.
Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper
Arguably the most quirky and ridiculous character in the show, Sheldon Cooper is a germaphobic genius who lives in an apartment with his roommate, Leonard. Along with his genius comes a bit of social strangeness, as he doesn’t really understand social cues or sarcasm. Despite some awkwardness, Sheldon is a theoretical physicist with brains bigger than Einstein’s.
Like many actors from the show, Jim Parson’s career in Hollywood really took off due to his role in the show, which eventually won him a Golden Globe and an Emmy for his impeccable performance. He recently did a voiceover for Dreamwork’s children’s movie, Home. Parsons is one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood, taking in $900,000 for every episode he is featured in.
Mayim Bialik as Amy Farrah Fowler
After years of the fans pleading with the writers to give Sheldon a girlfriend, they responded with Amy Farrah Fowler. Amy is a neurobiologist who is set up with Sheldon when Raj and Howard try out online dating on behalf of their quirky friend. Despite all odds, the couple remain together from season 3 all the way to the present day, and Sheldon even managed to propose to her at the end of season 10. Amy is obsessed with being Penny’s best friend, and spends a lot of time with her and Bernadette.
The Big Bang Theory was not Mayim’s first shot at fame, she was well known as a child actress from her time on the show, Blossom. In real life, she actually does have a doctorate and a degree in Neuroscience, and so she is probably the best suited to the part of any of her co-stars! She has evolved hugely as the show has gone on, moving from awkward girlfriend to a true mate for Sheldon, and a significant member of the crowd. She was long ago promoted to series regular.
John Galecki as Leonard Hofstadter
We met Leonard when the show began. He is the roommate and best friend Sheldon Cooper, although their relationship is rocky to say the least. The two bicker constantly like a old married couple. Leonard, like the rest of the crew, is a super genius and likes to show it.
The Big Bang Theory was definitely John’s breakout role, although he’d had a few small ones before the series debuted. The show has gotten him a lot of recognition, as he won multiple awards for his role, including an Emmy of Outstanding Lead Actor. His salary is enough to make anyone jealous, as the actor earns anywhere from $350,000 to $900,000 for each episode he appears in.
Kunal Nayyar as Rajesh Koothrappali
Raj is an astrophysicist who has been in the show since day one. Originally, part of his character was that he could not talk in front of women, unless he happened to be drinking alcohol of course! The writers eventually gave him the growing confidence to phase out this quirk, but he’s still a bit of a loner in love. He’s had a few different girlfriends, and learned to be less dependant on his parents, but he’s the only one of the original four not to find true love.
Forbes put Kunal third on the list of the highest paid TV actors in the world, so he’s doing pretty well for himself with his role as Raj on the Big Bang Theory. He was actually born in England, but to Indian family. He moved to the States before becoming an actor, and was lucky to land the role of Raj pretty early on. He has also written and published a book, called Yes, My Accent is Real. Listen out for his voice-over work in the upcoming Cars 3.
Simon Helberg as Howard Wolowitz
Many say that the biggest character change has been for Howard Wolowitz. In the first few seasons, he was mainly seen as a sleazy guy who was only interested in women and sex, but this all changed for him in season 3 when he met Bernadette. She and Howard got married in season 5, and even became parents in season 10, to their daughter Hallie. He also managed to achieve great things in his career, going from a simple engineer, to an astronaut and then working on secret projects for the government.
Simon has been part of the Big Bang Theory since episode 1, and this is certainly his break out role as an actor. .In his personal life, he has a black belt in Karate, and has been married to Jocelyn Towne since 2007. The couple have two children, a son and a daughter. Aside from the show, he has also starred in a couple of movies, including Florence Foster Jenkins, opposite Meryl Streep, for which he got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
Laura Spencer as Emily Sweeney
Emily comes into the show as Raj’s girlfriend, and is totally fine with the fact that Raj is also seeing Lucy at the same time. Unfortunately, Lucy doesn’t quite feel that way. The double trouble theme continues when Emily returns later in the show, while Raj is dating new girl Claire. Emily looks sweet from the outside, but it’s her dark humor and love of all things horror which really attracts Raj, a fact which he finds hard to understand!
While BBT fans love her as Emily, it looks like she won’t be returning to the show any time soon. You can also catch her on a few seasons of the hit show, Bones, as well as playing Jane Bennett in the Lizzie Bennett Diaries. You can also find her playing the role of Carrie in this years movie release, Heartland. At only 31 years old, her career is just beginning, so watch this space for the opportunities landing the role of Emily are sure to have opened for her.
Carol Ann Susi as Debbie Wolowitz
Mrs Wolowitz had a voice that was more recognisable than most of the series regular faces were! She was never seen on screen, but her voice would call out to Howard from behind closed doors, up the stairs of their home, or over the phone. The standing joke was that she was never seen, but spoken about as immensely fat, and with typical ‘Jewish mother’ jokes, like constantly making a brisket for dinner! Her thick New Jersey accent was truly iconic.
Carol Ann Susi
When the show wrote out Mrs Wolowitz a few seasons ago, many knew something must be wrong off screen. Sure enough, Carol Ann Susi was suffering with Lung cancer, which ended up taking her lfie at just 62 years old. The cast and crew were heartbroken, dedicating an episode to her memory and writing on social media for the world to see, “Mrs. Wolowitz, every time you spoke, we laughed. You’re in our hearts forever.”
Sara Gilbert as Leslie Winkle
Leslie Winkle is one of the fans fave ex-girlfriends of Leonard, introduced in the first season as him in a female body. She is also a physicist, with similar dress sense to him, and they date on and off while Leonard deals with feeling like Penny is out of his league. One of the funniest parts to her character is her relationship with Sheldon, which is basically hate-filled! Later in the show, she embarks on a ‘friends with benefits’ relationship with Howard.
While fans of the show might always see her as Leslie Winkle, Sara Gilbert is actually better known for her role in Roseanne, playing Darlene Conner. She isn’t seen on BBT anymore, and is busy working as executive producer on the refresh of Roseanne, as well as bringing Darlene back on camera after all of these years. In her personal life, she is married to singer/songwriter Linda Perry, and the couple have three kids.
Melisa Rauch as Bernadette
Bernadette didn’t live in the apartment with the guys when she met Howard Wolowitz, but the two began dating soon after meeting. Eventually, the couple tied the knot, making her last name into an almost unsayable mouthful: Rostenkowski-Wolowitz. She is a Ph.D. who used to work as a waitress at the Cheesecake Factory, though she now makes lots of money at a pharmaceutical company. She and Howard end up having two children by the end of season 11.
The Big Bang Theory was definitely Melisa Rauch’s big break into acting, as she joined the show in season 3 and soon became a regularly appearing character. Aside from her work as Bernadette in the series, Melisa has made appearances in hit series like True Blood, The Office, Kath & Kim (the US version), and Wright v Wrong. She has also had roles in such films as I Love You, Man, and Bronze.
Judd Hirsch as Alfred Hofstadter
The former star of the long-running sitcom, Taxi, Judd Hirsch appeared in several episodes of the Big Bang Theory, playing the role of Leonard’s father. Although Leonard had referred to his dad on numerous occasions, his physical appearance only took place in the ninth season. Apparently, Johnny Galecki approached Judd directly, saying, “I never had a father on the show and I always thought that I was like you”. Playing an anthropologist whose relationship with his son is rather distance, the character becomes increasingly likeable as his appearances progress.
Despite his numerous film and television appearances, Hirsch’s first love is the stage and, this summer, he will be reprising his role as Nat Moyer in the play I’m Not Rappaport at the Dorset Theatre Festival in Vermont this summer. While not working, Hirsch has been busy in real estate, recently purchasing a 1960’s A-frame house in California’s Studio City for just over $1.5 million. The 83-year-old-actor is still going strong and always has his physics degree to fall back on should he decide to retire from acting.
Stephen Hawking as Stephen Hawking
The world-famous genius and physician recognized for his work on black hole thermodynamics made his first appearance on the sitcom in 2012. The revered professor arrives at the local university to make a speech and Howard is given the enviable position of maintaining his specialized wheelchair. Five years later, Hawking returned to the series for the premiere of the 11th season in which Sheldon seeks his permission before proposing to his girlfriend, Amy. Producer, Steve Holland, recalled, “He’s been such a friend to the show over the years”.
Sadly, Hawking passed away in March 2018 at the age of 76. Despite battling with Lou Gehrig’s disease since he was 21, Hawking defied the predictions of medical professionals and long out-lasted the two-and-a-half-year prognosis they initially gave him. Hawking is remembered for his unparalleled contributions to cosmology, general relativity and quantum gravity. Hawking wrote several books, including the widely acclaimed, A Brief History of Time, which sold over 10-million copies. In addition to his guest role on the Big Bang Theory, Hawking, also appeared on The Simpsons, in cartoon form.
Bob Newhart as Professor Proton
The character portrayed by Bob Newhart is the host of children’s show that both Leonard and Sheldon watched during their formative years and loved. Professor Proton initially appears in season six of the sitcom, when the physicists ask him to entertain them at the apartment. Newhart appeared again in several episodes, including one where he appears in fantasy form as the Obi-Wan of Sheldon’s Star Wars’ themed dream which he is none to happy about, asking Sheldon, “What part of Rest in Peace don’t you understand?”
Bob Newhart has enjoyed a lengthy career as a comedian and actor, having risen to fame in the Sixties. Known initially for his comedic monologues, Newhart’s debut comedy album, The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart, earned him a Grammy Award for Album of the Year back in 1961. Newhart also received a Peabody Award and the board described him as “a person whose gentle satire and wry and irreverent wit waft a breath of fresh and bracing air through the stale and stuffy electronic corridors”.
Laurie Metcalf as Mary Cooper
This talented actress established her comic abilities and precision timing before most of the main cast members of The Big Bang Theory were even born. Known for her roles in popular comedy series such as Roseanne, Frasier and 3rd Rock from the Sun, Metcalf gives a predictably outstanding performance as Sheldon’s Texas-born mother. She appeared in several episodes, including one where Sheldon returns home with his career in tatters. When his friends arrive to take him back to Pasadena, she happily responds, “Don’t tell me prayer never works!”
Metcalf is known for her starring role in the comedy series, Getting On, which won her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress. She also received high critical acclaim for her part in the comedy-drama, Lady Bird, just missing out on an Academy Award for her portrayal of Marion McPherson. Metcalf is also appearing in the rebooted sitcom, Roseanne, where she plays the part of the leading lady’s sister, Jackie while also starring in the Broadway show, Three Tall Women, alongside Glenda Jackson and Alison Pill.
Kayley Cuoco as Penny
Penny is the main female character in the show, as she does not make short appearances for an episode or two as one of the guys’ girlfriend. In fact, Penny happens to live across the hall from Sheldon and Leonard, so she sees them quite a lot, and they become good but strange friends. Penny ends up actually dating Leonard for a while and, although they have a rough patch, they end up pulling through and getting married in the end.
Kayley is a multi-talented star, who can sing, act, and play tennis like a champion. She began acting in 1995, playing a role in the action thriller hit, Virtuosity. She has also been in other films such as Growing Up Brady, Alley Cats Strike (a Disney Channel original), and Crimes of Fashion. Her first recurring role was in the ABC sitcom, 8 Simple Rules, which was canceled after 3 years due to low ratings. She is still very much into acting, as she plays Penny on the Big Bang Theory.