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Kaley Cuoco has been quite lucky in her career. After starting with a lot of one-off roles in sitcoms and made for TV movies when she was a child, she landed a lead part on 8 Simple Rules as a teen, and then, within two years of that show ending, wound up on one of the most popular sitcoms of the past couple of decades: The Big Bang Theory. Cuoco was a part of the main cast for the CBS mega-hit for its entire 12-season run, but she recently spoke about the sad moment she realized it wouldn't last forever, and how she chose The Flight Attendant for her next big TV show.
After years of watching Kaley Cuoco play cool but kinda messy Penny on The Big Bang Theory, fans were probably a bit shocked to see her take on the role of uber messy Cassie on The Flight Attendant, especially so soon after BBT ended its long run. But, during a recent chat with Entertainment Weekly, Cuoco revealed that she had a bit of a rude awakening when it came to The Big Bang Theory ending, and then spoke more about stumbling upon the novel that her HBO Max show is based on.
After being asked about choosing to buy the rights to The Flight Attendant based on a very short summary of the story she saw while shopping on Amazon one night, Cuoco said:
That is a true story. Even thought it felt like Big Bang Theory was going to last, like, 25 years, I had to come to the fact that it wasn't. So, my team, who've I've been with a very long time, were highly suggesting to me to find a book or an article I can adapt, or whatever. I wasn't really interested. I thought, 'Oh, something will just come to me.' One night I was just flipping through Amazon, looking at upcoming releases, and I saw The Flight Attendant, and it was actually not out yet. I saw the cover of the book - they say don't judge a book by its cover, but I definitely did. They give you like two sentences of what the book was, and it was a very vague description...I know this sounds cheesy, but I literally got this excited heart palpitation, this chill, and I immediately called my team.
The first major thing to note here is that Kaley Cuoco was so at ease in her role as Penny on The Big Bang Theory that she not only figured the show would keep going far longer than any other live-action sitcom we've ever seen, but was totally fine with sticking around for at least a full 25 seasons. There were big changes ahead for Penny, Leonard and several of the other characters, so I'm sure fans would have loved to watch those things come about across another 13 seasons. And, it's good to know that Cuoco seems like she would have been completely on board with that.
Secondly, while Kaley Cuoco has talked before about the happenstance which led her to The Flight Attendant, it sounds like she was really right with her initial thought that something would "just come" to her. Even actors who've enjoyed long stints on television shows have talked about the worry that can come with realizing they'll soon be out of a steady job, and the scramble to find something new which will give them a reliable schedule (and paycheck) for another long stretch. But, Cuoco had faith that she'd land on her feet, and that's what happened.
It sounds like part of the reason that finding Chris Bohjalian's book gave Kaley Cuoco such a thrill was the very fact that the lead was so different from Penny. Cassie is a (basically) functioning alcoholic who finds her good times come to an abrupt end when her excessive drinking leads to her sleeping with a passenger on one of her flights, and then waking up in bed next to his dead body, with no clue what went on or whether or not she had something to do with the man's death.
I like to think of Cassie as what would have become of Penny had she not moved across the hall from Leonard and Sheldon, becoming absorbed by their relatively stable friend group and growing up quite a bit, but, maybe that's just me.
Kaley Cuoco's work on The Flight Attendant Season 1 led her to her very first Golden Globe nomination, and the show is also renewed for a second season, so it seems as though Cuoco has the right instincts when it comes to TV shows, which is sure to come in handy for many non-Big Bang Theory years to come.
We know a few things about The Flight Attendant Season 2 right now, including that it's set to debut in the spring of 2022. Until then, see what to watch right now with our guide to 2021 summer TV premieres!