Why Simon Helberg Almost Passed On The Big Bang Theory

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Raise your hand right now if you would turn down a chance to star in a network sitcom pilot. Judging by the lack of a "whooshing" sound from all the hands going up, I'll assume most would jump at such an opportunity. Actor Simon Helberg apparently came close to not involving himself with the current broadcast comedy king The Big Bang Theory back when the pilot was being cast, which his hindsight would have haunted him for. Here's why he almost didn't do it.

I was doing a show called Studio 60 that was great, a great group of people. But people weren't watching it and I hear that's part of the equation. So I said, 'I don't want to play nerds anymore. Pretty soon I'll be a distinguished gray, and that's pretty hot. So I'll pass on the nerd show.' And then I just got convinced to go in, and then I think I made the good choice.

It's hard to fault Simon Helberg for initially balking at the idea of playing Howard Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory, at least at the time. He was on Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and even though it wasn't much of a ratings winner, it was still a show created by Aaron Sorkin with a cast that included Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford, Sarah Paulson, D.L. Hughley and so many more. (The legendary Ed Asner? Come on!) Thinking about going from that prestige-laden show to a "nerd show" must have presented some mental hurdles for Helberg.

I mean, if we're all being honest with each other, how does anyone truly move beyond Dr. Nicolas Cage at any point in their career?

Thankfully for fans, Helberg came to his senses on donning the non-groovy duds for Big Bang Theory, as he has remained a major force in the storytelling and in the ensemble as a whole, even earning a Critics Choice TV Award for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series. And that remains true now more than ever, as he and Bernadette are expecting a child, a situation that will definitely shake up the status quo. It's hard to imagine any other actor trying to pull that haircut off for this many years.

Helberg shared this story on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, where he compared his own instincts to those of a squirrel that comes to a full stop in the middle of the road when a car is coming. I'd say the actor's are a shade better than that of a rodent's, considering he's making bank on a show that will have lasted at least a decade, while a lot of those squirrels are road stains now. I guess there's no real moral to this story, considering his gut instinct was the wrong one, but maybe that moral is just "Do whatever makes you a part of a hugely successful TV series."

The Big Bang Theory will return to CBS to clear up its parental cliffhanger for what will certainly be an interesting Season 10 on Monday, September 19, at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.