How Johnny Galecki Almost Ended Up Playing Sheldon On The Big Bang Theory

Johnny Galecki has had an extremely successful run playing Leonard on CBS’ big hit The Big Bang Theory. However, if things had gone just a little differently when the show was coming together, he just as easily could have ended up as Sheldon. When the show first contacted the actor, he looked at both the Leonard and Sheldon parts, but now says that he selfishly stated he wanted Leonard. If he hadn’t, things could have looked very different on the comedy. Here’s what Galecki had to say in a recent interview:

It was a very selfish request on my part. I hadn’t been able to traverse those stories of the heart. I’ve often been cast as the best friend or the gay assistant of whatever character got to explore those relationships. I said I’d rather play this guy, who seems to have a future of romantic triumphs and difficulties.

Galecki recently spoke with Variety about the gigs he is currently involved in. The outlet asked him about choosing Leonard over Sheldon early in The Big Bang Theory process, and he was pretty open when noting he wanted to try something new. There were a lot of times Galecki’s character wasn’t the main attraction in a project he signed up for in the past. Think about a movie like Playing Mona Lisa, for example, where Galecki’s the friend of the girl who is dealing with getting her heart broken and then picking herself back up. Getting the chance to play the character with the actual romantic angle probably seemed refreshing when he was first looking into The Big Bang Theory, although nine years later, both Leonard and Sheldon are dealing with relationships and their issues.

Still, there are major differences between Leonard and Sheldon, who is played by Jim Parsons. Leonard’s the more intuitive member of the group, at least socially, while Sheldon has very limited social awareness. Leonard is a step ahead of Sheldon in terms of being married, while Sheldon got an engagement ring from his mother but messed up at the end of Season 8 before he could even give it to his gal Amy. He only recently started to figure out less stalker-ish ways of trying to win Amy back in earnest.

The show is currently in its ninth season on the air at this point, and I don’t think that most of us can even imagine anyone other than Jim Parsons in the role of Sheldon. We already know the actor eventually crushed his audition, and was exactly what executive producer Chuck Lorre was looking for when the show got around to casting some of the other characters. In a lot of ways, Sheldon’s oddball, awkward character is the most iconic part of the series, and will be remembered long after The Big Bang Theory is off of the air. On the bright side, The Big Bang Theory is quite popular, and years from now people should remember each of the major players, so it's not like Galecki totally chose wrong.

You can catch Galecki's character living out his epic romance when The Big Bang Theory airs on Thursday nights at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.