An interview with John Galecki for season six of The Big Bang Theory
John Galecki plays Leonard in the hit comedy, The Big Bang Theory. With the sixth season about to air, we caught up with the talented actor to discover some insider secrets on upcoming storylines, Stephen Hawking and Harold’s epic ego…
Will Howard and Bernadette’s marriage at the end of the last season inspire Leonard to propose to Penny this year?
You know what? Timing is not Leonard’s strong suit and I don’t think emotional maturity is Penny’s strong suit because she seems to run away from any kind of proposal. When Leonard professed his love for her out loud, she shut it down. That’s the great thing about these characters, though. They allow us a lot of time to tell so many different stories. We talked early on about how these guys were going to mature very slowly. Their romance is going to be a very slow evolution and they have a lot of lessons to learn. Plus, if it all went well, it wouldn’t be funny, so there have to be plenty of bumps in the road.
Do you think Leonard and Penny are meant to be together?
In many ways they are the loves of one another’s lives, but they have so much to learn. I love what the writers do with their relationship on the show. It would have been easy to assume that Leonard would screw it up, but that’s not always the case. It’s often Penny, too.
Did you get to meet Stephen Hawking on the show last year?
I did. There are certain people in this world that instill a fascinating presence in a room. You have a strong visceral reaction to being in the same room as them – and that’s exactly what happened with Stephen Hawking. It’s not because someone has movie star good looks. It’s not because you’re star struck because it’s someone mega famous like Tom Cruise. When you’re in the midst of genius, you really feel it. We all felt it with Stephen Hawking. It was a wonderful day.
Did he spend much time on set?
He came in and watched our rehearsal, which was really exciting for us. He was really, really into it. It was great.
How do you top a guest like that?
I don’t know, but we’ve had other great guest stars on the show, too. [Astronaut] Mike Massimino was amazing. I was fascinated by him. He’s got more space-walk hours logged than anyone else, so it’s amazing to chat to someone like that. I have a respect for anybody that can come onto our show and play themselves. It’s a really daunting feat. I find it terrifying.
Why do you find it terrifying?
I think it’s really scary to open yourself up to be judged as yourself as opposed to the character you’re playing. I did it on Entourage, which was tough for me. I even find it hard to appear on panels at things like Comic-Con. That’s why I have a lot of respect for all of our guest stars who come on the show and play themselves.
What other special guests have you enjoyed on the show?
I enjoyed meeting the Barenaked Ladies on the show. They were cool guys. They came to our party for the pilot episode and they played for us, so we’ve got to know them over the years. They are really sweet. In fact, they are the most polite rock band I’ve ever met.
Did they want to sit in Sheldon’s spot when they visited the set?
Everybody wants to sit in Sheldon’s spot when they visit the set. It’s probably the number one request we get from visitors.
What did you get up to during the recent hiatus from the show?
I shot a film in Savannah during the hiatus, which was really good fun. Except it was really hot and I grew a full beard for the role. Having a beard in humid Savannah in July is not comfortable at all.
What’s the movie about?
It’s a movie called CBGB and it’s about the punk club of the 70s. I had a great time shooting that, but I also did a lot of travelling during the hiatus. I visited Japan to tour some of the US bases out there, which was incredible. However, I was ready to get back to work on The Big Bang Theory because we have a great time doing what we do on the show.
How will Howard handle space? Do you think he’ll return to Earth with an epic ego?
Howard couldn’t be funnier. I love Simon Helberg’s character. In fact, I love Simon and I love how he plays that role, but I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen when he returns to Earth. The writers like to keep us in the dark, so we have no idea what’s going to turn up in the scripts. We prefer it that way.
Do you think space will change him?
Howard is probably going to have a little bit of swagger when he returns to Earth. I’m sure the experience will come in handy for him.
Simon Helberg turned down the chance to jet into space at Comic-Con earlier this year. Is that something you would ever consider?
I heard about space trip a couple of weeks before Comic-Con and I thought about it for ages. You could probably rack up a lot of frequent flyer miles on that trip to space, but I don’t know if I could do it. I’m a little claustrophobic and I’m not even a big fan of commercial flying, so I’m not sure how I’d cope. It’s definitely not something that I would pursue personally.
How does it feel to be part of such a successful show?
It feels great, but we never knew we were going to get this far. You can never tell how well a show is going to do when you first start work on a pilot. I had no idea.
How long do you see the show running?
It’s tough to say. When we hit our 100th episode last year, it put everything in perspective. It still feels like we have so many stories to tell on a creative level and on a personal level, too. I still want to get to know these characters some more. I can’t imagine ever feeling like our time had come, but maybe it will. I remember Seinfeld saying that you have to be disciplined about it. It’s like when you’re having a great dinner with friends and there comes that point where it feels right to say, “You know what? I could stick around and have another glass of wine and talk for an hour, but this has been great. Let’s not push our luck. Let’s leave while we’re on top.” I want to be able to say we’ve had a wonderful, classy, appropriate lifespan.
So you want to leave the show on a high?
Exactly. But I’m not leaving any time soon. And I’m not claiming that we will have the class or discipline to do that if and when the time comes. We’ll just have to see what happens…