Prior to the premiere of HBO Max's The Flight Attendant in late 2020, Kaley Cuoco was undoubtedly best known for her long-running portrayal of Penny on The Big Bang Theory. Penny was a very different character from The Flight Attendant's Cassie, and releasing on HBO Max meant that Cassie could do a lot of things that were only implied at best on CBS with The Big Bang Theory. And according to Cuoco's Flight Attendant co-star Michiel Huisman, she had no idea what she was doing when it came to HBO-calibre sex scenes.
Of course I didn’t realize, but for some reason she had never done a love scene before, I guess that never happened on The Big Bang Theory. So when we were doing a fairly decent… we’re making out on the bed, under the covers, we’re doing our first scene like that and I noticed she was sort of hovering on top of me, she’s not really sitting on my legs.
As Big Bang Theory viewers will remember, nothing racy ever happened in front of the camera on the CBS sitcom, although there were obviously implications (and the whole ongoing plot about Sheldon and Amy having sex). Anybody who has ever watched an HBO show aimed at adults can probably attest to the fact that the same can't be said for series that fall under the HBO umbrella.
None of Penny's relationships on The Big Bang Theory involved anything like what Kaley Cuoco would perform for The Flight Attendant as Cassie. The sex scene between Cuoco's Cassie and Michiel Huisman's Alex was important to the plot, as Cassie woke up from her night with Alex to discover him very dead in bed next to her. Cuoco ultimately rose to the occasion to sell the scene, but Huisman explained that it took a few takes for her to figure out how to perform the kind of scenes she never did over 12 seasons on CBS:
After like take three she starts to shake a little bit and I’m like 'Kaley, what are you doing?Just sit down!’ And it turned out that she was so uncomfortable and she had no idea how to do this thing. She was trying not to touch me.
Kaley Cuoco has only had enthusiastic things to say about The Flight Attendant, and she served as executive producer as well as star, so hopefully she became comfortable with the love scenes after she realized how to do them on camera. Critics were certainly impressed by her performance overall, as she scored her first Golden Globe nomination. She didn't ultimately win, but she had a pretty great response!
The Flight Attendant also scored a renewal for Season 2 despite using up the source material for adaptation in Season 1. Whether or not Michiel Huisman will have a part to play remains to be seen. Alex was after all killed off in Season 1. That said, Season 1 ended before news broke of the Season 2 renewal, so who's to say? Cassie will still be struggling with what she went through in the first season.
If you missed the first season with Kaley Cuoco flexing her acting muscles after 12 seasons of The Big Bang Theory, you can find the full first season streaming on HBO Max now. While there, you can also find all 12 seasons of The Big Bang Theory with Cuoco as Penny.