The Silly Way The Big Bang Theory Got Judd Hirsch To Play Leonard's Dad

big bang judd hirsch

Over the course of its ten seasons on CBS, The Big Bang Theory has delivered some of the best guest casting on TV, which is pretty obvious when you're talking about a Dream Jedi Bob Newhart. TV legend Judd Hirsch was a recent standout, bringing the first physical appearance of Leonard's father Alfred, following years of references. And while you might think that because it's Hollywood, there would be some complex line-up of publicists making that casting happen, it was a tad sillier than that. Hirsch explained it just took Johnny Galecki sheepishly making the request himself.

He just sort of cornered me one day. We were at a celebration of Jamie Burrows' 1,000th show, and at that celebration - since he did the pilots of all the shows that we know, he did The Big Bang Theory, believe it or not - and Johnny Galecki just came over to me on the stage when it was all over. . . . 'Would you like to be my father?' I go, 'Why not? Why not?' And Johnny said, 'I never had a father on the show and I always thought that I was like you.' And I'm thinking, 'Where?' [laughs] He actually thought that, in real life, that he could have come from someone like me.

Judd Hirsch talked about this interaction with The Big Bang Theory's Johnny Galecki during an interview with TV Guide promoting his upcoming CBS comedy Superior Donuts, which also stars the always superb Katey Sagal, Jermaine Fowler, David Koechner, Maz Jobrani, Anna Baryshnikov and more. And he did not give Galecki any benefits of the doubt when telling this tale, either, joking about the younger actor's penchant for looking at the ground when he talks, acting it out as he went on. I suppose most people would look down when confessing admiration for someone in such a strange way. Hirsch and Galecki should be in way more episodes together in the show's future, assuming it has one.

The moral of the story here isn't "If you'd like Judd Hirsch to appear in something, all it takes is asking," but I can't help but feel like I should contact him about this thing I'm putting together. It's basically Roseanne, but with Judd Hirsch playing David and CGI'd into all the existing footage. Don't steal that idea.

It has to be mentally baffling for Judd Hirsch, who should have a TV show where he just tells stories, to have accepted the Big Bang gig after being told Galecki thought they were similar in nature. It's the kind of comment that appeals to both one's ego and one's panic center. A strange way to make a deal happen, to be sure, but one that worked out well for all involved, and we have legendary TV director James Burrows to thank, as well as Galecki's shoe-gazing bravado.

It'd be great to see Hirsch making a slew of return appearances as Alfred, with or without any of the females in his life, but we get to see him soon on Superior Donuts, which adapts the acclaimed Tracy Letts play of the same name. In the show, Hirsch plays the donut shop-owning Arthur Przybyszewski, and the show centers on Arthur and his new employee Franco (Jermaine Fowler) and their interactions with a variety of different customers. This sounds like the perfect place for Johnny Galecki to make a cameo appearance, perhaps as Leonard in a weirdo crossover, or perhaps not.

Watch The Big Bang Theory every Thursday night on CBS to see if the show brings Judd Hirsch back sooner rather than later, and it really should be sooner, because come on! Superior Donuts makes its James Burrows-directed debut on Thursday, February 2, in the post-Big Bang timeslot of 8:30 p.m. ET before moving to Mondays at 9:00 p.m. ET. Head to our midseason premiere schedule to see what else is cropping up on TV these days.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.