The Big Bang Theory is one of the most successful sitcoms of the last few decades. Prior to its September 2007 debut on CBS, the series’ pilot episode featured another character named Katie instead of Penny, but after rejection by the network, Penny was dropped from the story. The actress who played her revealed why she was kicked off the show.
The Big Bang Theory is the hit sitcom created by Chucak Lorre and Bill Prady for the broadcast network CBS. The series is considered one of the best of its kind of all time on television and evidence of this was the fact that it remained on the air for 12 long seasons. The show wrapped up in May 2019 and four years later, it remains in the memories and hearts of millions of fans.
The series follows a group of comic book and video game loving scientist friends who became comedy icons. With their wild antics, the characters of The Big Bang Theory made millions of viewers around the world laugh and with their stories they solidified an immense fan base.
With the debut of The Big Bang Theory, fans got their first glimpse of Penny, the young blonde and aspiring actress who moved into the apartment building across the street from the scientist-theorist Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons) and experimental physicist Leonard Hofstadter, played by actor Johnny Galecki. Kaley Cuoco was in charge of giving life to her remembered neighbor during the 12 seasons, but before the actress arrived with her character on the program, the story was another.
It turns out that before appearing on the screen, the creators of The Big Bang Theory presented a pilot episode that was rejected by CBS in 2006. At the time, Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons were part of the cast of the project that later became a series. Some fans of the sitcom may not be aware of this, but prior to the addition of Kaley Cuoco, a different actress had played the scientist pair’s neighbor, named Katie.
Katie was played by Canadian actress Amanda Walsh. She was the original character that would be part of The Big Bang Theory storyline before they decided to replace her with Penny. After the rejection of the pilot episode, Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady were forced to make some changes, so they decided to eliminate Katie. His interpreter revealed the truth about his departure in Jessica Radloff’s book, The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story Of The Epic Hit Series.
“Anxiously awaiting that phone call, hoping to hear some good news about the show and a possible trip to New York. When the call finally came, my world was turned upside down,” revealed Amanda Walsh. “Sons & Daughters wasn’t getting picked up, and even Big Bang Theory was going through changes without me. As an actress, it’s never easy to get that kind of call. Bill handled it as kindly as possible. But a year later, I was incredibly lucky to be hired by [James] Burrows for another pilot called The Mastersons of Manhattan, alongside the talented actresses Molly Shannon and Natasha Richardson.”
“This experience really validated the notion that rejection doesn’t reflect who I am as an Actress. Being rehired by the same people for another major project was incredibly heartwarming. Chuck, Nikki, and Ken have hired me on other projects and have mentioned that Chuck is a fan of mine, which is a huge confidence booster. Time has proven to be the best ally to deal with such disappointments. I have leaned on my friends who have been in Los Angeles for a long time to support me.”
The creators of The Big Bang Theory have praised Amanda Walsh’s performance as Katie in the original sitcom pilot. She portrayed the character as written, but the character itself presented a problem. Unlike Penny, Katie had a more worldly nature, which allowed her to be harsh and critical of Sheldon and Leonard. This clashed with the empathetic nature of the main characters, making it difficult for the show to align with CBS’s desired dynamic.
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The Big Bang Theory: Actress Who Played Original Penny Reveals Why She Was Eliminated