Everybody has a different memory of when they first discovered Kaley Cuoco, whether it was as the late John Ritter’s onscreen daughter on 8 Simple Rules, when she joined the cast of Charmed in its final season, or even in the Disney Channel original movie Alley Cats Strike in 2000. There are also those who had never heard of the actress before the 2007 premiere of The Big Bang Theory, on which she played the beautiful next door neighbor of two socially-inept physicists.
It was her casting as Penny, which became her best-known role to date, on the long-running CBS sitcom that truly propelled the California native into the mainstream, earning supporting roles in films like Hop, The Last Ride, and The Wedding Ringer opposite Kevin Hart and Josh Gad. It has been her follow-ups to The Big Bang Theory that have really given her the chance to prove her range, such as leading the animated Harley Quinn series and the upcoming HBO Max exclusive thriller The Flight Attendant, both of which she is also an executive producer for.
Of course, as someone who has been acting since they were 7 years old, the now 35-year-old Kaley Cuoco has acquired many credits - not all of which have stood the test of time or simply made as much of an impact on her career as some of the aforementioned titles have. The following are 10 such roles of hers that slipped through the cracks, most of which might ring a bell from television - save our first item that was actually her big screen debut.
Virtuosity (Karin Carter)
Despite our central focus here being Kaley Cuoco, you might be more surprised that this 1995 futuristic sci-fi thriller, about an AI built from the consciousnesses of the world’s worst serial killers taking on a human-like form, stars Russel Crowe as the cybernetic villain and Denzel Washington as the cop tracking him years before the Oscar winners (sort of) switched roles for American Gangster. In Virtuosity, a 10-year-old Cuoco plays Karin Carter - the daughter of a criminal psychologist (Kelly Lynch) working with Washington’s character, whom Crowe’s “SID” kidnaps and hides inside an air vent rigged to explode in the third act.
Northern Exposure (Miranda, 7 Years Old)
A year earlier, Kaley Cuoco had her TV series debut on this Emmy-winning dramedy about a recently certified doctor (Rob Morrow) forced to practice medicine in a remote Alaskan town filled with some “unique” individuals. Cuoco’s performance on Season 5 of Northern Exposure comes in the form of one of Canadian beauty queen Shelly Tambo’s (Cynthia Geary) visions of her unborn daughter, Miranda - in this case as a 7-year-old playing with Barbie dolls.
My So-Called Life (Young Angela)
Speaking of Barbie dolls, that is also what Kaley Cuoco is seen playing with when she appears as a younger version of Claire Danes’ Golden Globe-winning role on this short-lived, but much-loved, teen drama My So-Called Life, which starred a young Jared Leto at the beginning of his career. Her appearance is from a flashback of little Angela Chase excitedly greeting her father home at the beginning of the series’ fourth episode, in which present-day Angela catches her dad with another woman.
Ellen (Little Ellen)
That brief appearance on My So-Called Life was only the beginning of Kaley Cuoco’s stint of playing younger versions of a TV series’ central character. That would continue in 1996 on the Season 4 of Ellen Degeneres’ self-titled hit sitcom, in which the then 10-year-old actress plays the future talk show host’s character in a flashback that reveals she was the one who put gum in her best friend, Paige’s (Joely Fisher) hair in the early 1970s.
Growing Up Brady (Maureen McCormick)
Speaking of the early 1970s, no sitcom was more popular at that point than The Brady Bunch, which was subject of Barry Williams’ (who played Greg Brady) tell-all, behind-the-scenes memoir, Growing Up Brady, that NBC turned into a movie in 2000. Kaley Cuoco plays Maureen McCormick (better known as Marcia Brady), whom Williams (played by a young Adam Brody in the film) apparently had a romantic connection with, despite playing siblings on the series.
7th Heaven (Lynn)
Kaley Cuoco also caught the eye of Simon Camden (David Gallagher) on yet another popular show about the (comparatively darker) misadventures of a large family. In a Season 6 episode of 7th Heaven all about romantic tragedy, her character Lynn turns out to be already dating one of Simon’s friends when he expresses his interest in her.
10.5 (Amanda Williams)
Speaking of tragedy, this two-night miniseries event about the cataclysmic effects of a record-breaking earthquake on the West Coast was a surprise hit for NBC in 2004, despite its reputation today as a ridiculous B-movie practically on par with Sharknado in some ways. Among the interconnected ensemble cast of 10.5, Kaley Cuoco plays a teenager whose camping trip plans with her divorced father (John Schneider) turns into a fight for survival when the natural disaster hits - but she did not return for the 2006 sequel, 10.5: Apocalypse.
Bratz (Kirstee Tweevil)
Kaley Cuoco did, however, reprise her recurring role as the voice of Kirstee on Bratz, the animated series based on the popular line of dolls that ran from 2005-2008, in a few straight-to-video, feature-length spin-offs. Kirstee is actually one of the main antagonists of the show who enjoys taunting the main quartet of fashionable young ladies with her twin sister Kaycee, voiced by Mean Girls’ Lacey Chabert.
Brandy & Mr. Whiskers (Brandy Harrington)
In one of her earlier voice roles that also earned her top-billing, Kaley Cuoco played one of the titular lead characters of the Disney Channel original Brandy & Mr. Whiskers. She played Brandy Harrington - the pampered, snobbish dog of wealthy Florida family who becomes stranded in the Amazon rainforest with the bumbling rabbit (Charlie Adler) who makes up the second half of the title.
Prison Break (Sasha)
In 2007, months before debuting Penny on The Big Bang Theory, Kaley Cuoco starred on a pair of episodes from Season 2 of Prison Break and, in yet another common theme among many of her guest appearances, plays a teenage girl who catches the eye of one of the main characters. The situation is much creepier this time, however, as the character in question is Michael Schofield’s (Wentworth Miller) mentally ill escaped cellmate known as Haywire (Silas Weir Mitchell), who is asked by Cuoco’s character, Sasha, to buy beer for her and her boyfriend - setting off a chain of events that results in Haywire assaulting her abusive, alcoholic father.
What do you think? Are you surprised to learn about these Kaley Cuoco roles or were these already some of your favorite appearances by the actress? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for additional information and updates on the former The Big Bang Theory star, as well as even more lesser-known acting gigs from some of your favorite celebrities, here on CinemaBlend.