It was previously revealed that Cuoco originally tried out for the role of a character named Katie, who would have been worlds away from Penny. Cuoco did not get the role.
Speaking in Jessica Radloff’s book The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series, Cuoco said: “I know Chuck [Lorre, the show’s co-creator] really wanted me for the role of Katie, and I was definitely bummed when I didn’t get it,” Cuoco told Radloff.
The book reveals that four actors almost won the role instead: Marisa Tomei, Tara Reid, Elizabeth Berkeley and Jodi Lynn O’Keefe.
Co=creator Bill Prady said that Berkeley especially had a ”terrific” audition, but it was O’Keefe who won the role. However, she got fired 30 minutes after the first table read with the cast.
Jim Parsons, who played Sheldon Cooper in the series, said that he was “stunned” by the news.
The role eventually went to Amanda Walsh, who is deemed the “pre-Penny female lead” of the successful sitcom.
However, a featurette released when the series ended in 2018 saw Cuoco reveal she was “called a year later” by Lorre, who told her: “It’s a new character, we want you to come in.”
“I read for it and it just felt so much better than it did the year before,” Cuoco continued, stating: “I guess it was just meant to be.”
Lorre reworked the entire show after CBS turned down its original pilot, which he called “a mess” due to the fact the team “didn’t really understand the characters yet”.
The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story will be published on 11 October.