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Big Bang Theory: Original Penny Actor Opens Up About Being Cut From The Show

Actor Amanda Walsh, who was cast as the original female lead of The Big Bang Theory, opens up about being cut from the show. In 2006, creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady pitched a new comedy pilot to CBS. Sadly, the show's initial iteration was rejected, forcing them to retool the pilot and resulting in what ultimately became The Big Bang Theory. The original The Big Bang Theory pilot featured Walsh's Katie as the show's third main character alongside Jim Parsons' Sheldon and Johnny Galecki's Leonard. When CBS asked Lorre and Prady to retool the series, the character was scrapped and replaced by Kaley Cuoco's Penny.

Knowing how successful The Big Bang Theory became, Walsh opens up in Jessica Radloff's The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story Of The Epic Hit Series and looks back at being cut from the sitcom. Read her full quote below:

"You're waiting to find out, to get that phone call, if the show gets picked up and if you'll be flying to New York. And when that phone call came in, it was a crazy twenty-four hours because I found out Sons & Daughters was not getting picked up. And then I found out that Big Bang Theory wasn't getting picked up, either, but it was going to be retooled—except with a new character, without me.


"It's never a call you wanna get as an actor, but Bill was as nice as possible about the whole thing. And then I was really fortunate that a year later, Burrows hired me for another pilot called The Mastersons of Manhattan with Molly Shannon and Natasha Richardson. For me, that really validated the notion of "It's not you," because as an actor, you always question that. So, to get rehired by the same people for another big project was very, very validating. And I've been brought in for other projects of Chuck's, and Nikki and Ken have always said that Chuck is a fan [of mine], which helps a lot.


"Time is really the best helper for those things. I leaned on friends who had been in LA for a long time."

Why Amanda Walsh's Katie Was Cut From The Big Bang Theory

Both Prady and Lorre have been vocal about how great Walsh was in her role as Katie in the original The Big Bang Theory pilot. She played the part as how it was written, but, unfortunately, the character itself was the problem. Unlike Penny, Katie was worldlier, meaning she could be rude and harsh on Sheldon and Leonard. Considering how the boys were depicted as empathetic characters, the dynamic didn't work with what CBS wanted to see in the show.

Admittedly, it's difficult to imagine what The Big Bang Theory would have looked like without Cuoco's Penny. While the character replaced Katie as the sitcom's main female lead, she was essentially a new character. This made it easier for Walsh to accept being cut from the wildly popular show. In any case, Penny's more understanding and warm-hearted nature was a better fit for The Big Bang Theory since she functioned as the viewers' perspective in the narrative.

Walsh wasn't the only actor who was cut from The Big Bang Theory after the pilot was reworked. Iris Bahr's Gilda was meant to be another female scientist part of the original ensemble, but she was also scrapped from the show and replaced by Simon Helberg's Howard and Kunal Nayyar's Raj. Unlike Walsh, however, she has yet to comment on her experience.

Source: The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story Of The Epic Hit Series

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