On several occasions, The Big Bang Theory almost looked completely different. The first pilot was not a hit with the audience, and that was especially true because of a particular character, Katie. Despite the poor start, Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady made things work, tweaking the plotline while recasting the group.
That new cast proved to be the deciding factor. Johnny Galecki admitted that from the very first table read, it felt as though the cast had been together forever already at that point.
However, it seems like certain stars came very close to missing on that chemistry, success and wealth. One of those people was Simon Helberg. The actor had already seen the script, and was planning to skip out given his involvement on another series. Thankfully, he was given some wise advice from his team. Let's take a look at how it all played out.
Oh, how different The Big Bang Theory could've looked. You can argue that of the main cast, the only lock was really Johnny Galecki. Kaley Cuoco was not included at the start and neither was the Penny character, Jim Parsons' audition was initially labeled as too perfect, while Kunal Nayyar was also snubbed an invite in front of the higher-ups for the network in New York.
Despite Nayyar's snub, Chuck Lorre was livid with the decision and fought back against the network. Lorre was very aware that Nayyar wasn't given much of a chance during the pilot given his limited dialogue throughout the episode.
Lorre reveals, "If you go back and watch the pilot, we didn't really give him much of a chance in that episode. It wasn't because Kunal didn't deliver, it was because we still hadn't quite landed on his character."
Nayyar's role on the series was not recast and it proved to be the right decision by Lorre. In truth, the creator has experience with these types of situations as the same ordeal took place on Two and a Half Men when the network wanted Jon Cryer out. Thankfully, Lorre once again stuck to his vision, and the actor was the perfect match alongside Charlie Sheen.
Simon Helberg was a major reason for the success of The Big Bang Theory. The same held true for the cast as the actor was typically labeled as the funniest of the group and the one that would cause most of them to break from time to time during scenes.
However, Helberg almost declined an invite on the show. He saw the script in the past, but then the show had to restructure its plot. When he got another call, Helberg felt skeptical about the show's future. He wanted to skip out on his audition and stick to the other show he was on at the time. Given that Chuck Lorre was attached to The Big Bang Theory, he was advised by his agent not go down that road and attend the audition.
Helberg discusses his audition experience with THR, "I remember almost not going in because I was working on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and it was the beginning of pilot season. I was working with a great group of people and loved this pilot."
He continues, "I read Big Bang the year before — they shot it twice — and read it the first year. I thought, "Why are they doing this again?" There was a new character and it was great but I was on Studio 60 and my agents had to talk me into going."
Not only did he take part in the audition, but he was also a major hit in front of Chuck Lorre.
Simon Helberg revealed that Chuck Lorre is hard to read, but he knew his audition for The Big Bang Theory was going well given that the creator was smiling and laughing throughout.
Helberg reveals, "I remember Chuck and Bill laughing a lot — and the look Chuck gave me. He can have a look in his eyes that you can't really read him but he was smiling. I thought some wheels were turning. I knew he liked what I did and I'll never forget hearing that laugh. It's still the highlight of my day when I hear that laugh."
Helberg thrived on the show for 12 seasons and looks back on his role with gratitude. Clearly, playing Howard did not typecast the actor as he continues to thrive in Hollywood taking on different roles away from the comedy genre. To think what things would be like for Helberg had he not listened to his agent...