Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki‘s respective characters of Penny and Leonard fell in love, got married, and had a child during the 12-seasons The Big Bang Theory aired on CBS. And as many fans know, life imitated art, and Kaley, 36, and Johnny, 47, also fell in love. In excerpts from The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series published by Vanity Fair on Oct. 3, the actors opened up about their obvious connection and what led them to finally date between 2008 and 2010.
“I had a very big crush on Johnny early on. I was so not even hiding it,” Kaley recalled in the book. “We were both dating people at the time, but I only had eyes for Johnny. Then, when I found out he had eyes for me too, I was like, Uh‑oh, this is going to be trouble.” Later on, Kaley said the entire first season of the show consisted of their chemistry growing on and off the screen. “All the scenes up until we actually got together in real life, it was obvious there was always something there,” the actress confirmed. “There was chemistry and we were crushing on each other.”
It was that “obvious” chemistry that encouraged both Kaley and Johnny to eventually do something about their connection. The pair admitted they could no longer ignore their feelings after they filmed a dream-sequence scene for the Season 1 episode “The Nerdvana Annihilation”, which featured Leonard saving Penny from an elevator shaft and the pair lovingly embracing each other. “We had to be in each other’s arms — and for quite some time, because it was a bit of a stunt that we were doing,” Johnny recalled in the excerpt. “Kaley didn’t look freaked out at all. In fact, she looked extremely happy in those arms.”
Kaley noted she believes they “fell a little in love in that elevator shaft,” and Johnny agreed that they “felt something.” He added, “I think that was a massive turning point [in our relationship]. At that point, both she and I knew that something mutual was felt, and that it was going to be more of a distraction from the work to try and continue to ignore it than to actually recognize it and surrender to it.”
A few months after Kaley had broken up with her boyfriend at the time, Johnny made the move and invited her to the Smoke House in Burbank, Calif. Kaley admitted she got there as quickly as possible, and the rest is history. The two shared a kiss that evening, and Kaley invited him back to her house. “After that kiss at the Smoke House, she said, ‘You gotta come over to my house,’ so I did. And then she disappeared. She came back having showered, wearing nothing but a towel, and sat on my lap. I was like, ‘Okay, I guess we’re dating!’” Johnny fondly remembered. However, Kaley said she remembered being fully clothed when she jumped on his lap. Regardless, they were an item — but worked to keep their relationship a secret on set. Eventually, people picked up on their romance, but the couple made sure to never let it affect the show or their professional relationships.
The pair went on to have a beautiful romance that simply faded away after two years of love and laughter. During their revealing chat, they noted they were just two different people from two different worlds who wanted different things out of life. “We really adored each other, and we were lucky because as our breakup was happening, there was no foul play, there was nothing bad about our relationship . . . it just ended,” the Flight Attendant actress explained. “Yes, there was some hurt there for a bit, but it didn’t take us that long to go back to what we were before we were dating and be friends. He was front row at both of my weddings, and we’ve been so supportive of each other ever since. We adore each other.”
Following her breakup from the former Roseanne star, Kaley went on to marry pro tennis player Ryan Sweeting in 2013 and equestrian Karl Cook in 2018. Both marriages ended in divorce, and she is currently dating Ozark‘s Tom Pelphrey. Johnny got into a serious relationship with Alaina Meyer and welcomed a son, Avery, with her in 2019. They separated in 2020.