You may have forgotten, thanks to the seemingly endless WGA strike, but this is the "season of the nerd." And inarguably TV's dukes of dorkdom are Sheldon (Jim Parsons) and Leonard (Johnny Galecki) on CBS' The Big Bang Theory (resuming its freshman season tonight at 8 pm/ET). Playing beauty to the geeks is Kaley Cuoco, with whom TVGuide.com chatted about the "new" season ahead.
TVGuide.com: First off, just to be clear, this is not the CBS sitcom guest-starring Britney Spears.
Kaley Cuoco: No, it is not. That would be How I Met Your Mother.
TVGuide.com: But you know what you could do to totally trump them? Guest-cast Eliot Spitzer's girlfriend, "Kristen."
Cuoco: Oh, you are bad! That’s very funny. I don’t know if anyone would go for that, but I'd sure think it was funny.
TVGuide.com: The last time we spoke, you told me the story of how when the Big Bang pilot first made rounds, [series cocreator] Chuck Lorre originally had some concerns about you being too young to play Penny. But everything is good now?
Cuoco: [Laughs] He's happy now, yes. Originally when I went to [audition] for it, Chuck and I fell in love with each other and we had a good connection, but he told me, "Honestly, I think you're a little too young for this role." But then a year passed and a lot of the script changed, and it ended up being perfect for me. It worked out for everybody.
TVGuide.com: Do you feel like you're working a slightly different "comedy muscle" than you did on 8 Simple Rules?
Cuoco: It feels the same. I love comedy so much, I love sitcoms, I love working with funny people, so it feels very natural to me. It's always felt like second nature.
TVGuide.com: In this week's episode, Penny plays peacemaker between Sheldon and Leonard....
Cuoco: Yeah, they get into a little b--ch fight. [Laughs] Penny, she just wants to fix everything and have everyone be happy, so she gets in the way and makes things a lot worse. She herself has become a conflict between the guys anyway. Leonard has switched gears to wanting to be around her, and Sheldon could care less.
TVGuide.com: There's definitely some friction between her and Sheldon.
Cuoco: Yes, and in the last few episodes we shot, there's even more and it's absolutely hysterical. Penny and Sheldon do not get each other at all.
TVGuide.com: Are there any more beauty-geek hookups coming up, à la Wolowitz and Penny's BFF?
Cuoco: [Laughs] We were talking about that. I look forward to her friend coming back. He thinks he "gets" the ladies, but….
TVGuide.com: I get the feeling you're the type who might be prone to "breaking" when taping a funny scene.
Cuoco: I do break a lot. It's really bad. The gag reel is going to be me constantly laughing. I'm actually always trying to screw everybody else up. The other night, Jim [Parsons], who never, ever, ever breaks, we totally got him. I said, "Are you laughing?" He was like, "Yes, damn it!"
TVGuide.com: In next week's episode, you're doing a bit of singing?
Cuoco: Yes! When we were rehearsing the previous episode, Chuck and [executive producer] Bill [Prady] walked up to me with a CD, and I knew exactly what they were going to say. "I'm going to have to sing, aren’t I?" So Penny does a little singing and it's not rather good, to say the least.
TVGuide.com: Did you have to fake bad singing, or did it come naturally to you?
Cuoco: Oh no, it’s all natural. I'm naturally bad. I didn’t have to do much acting there.
TVGuide.com: What was more difficult — singing or wearing the kitten costume without any wardrobe malfunctions?
Cuoco: Oh my god, wearing that stupid costume. I'll sing any day over wearing that again.
TVGuide.com: Every time you sat down, I winced for you.
Cuoco: You and I both, my friend.
TVGuide.com: In one episode, Penny surprised the boys with her aptitude for videogaming. How are your own button-mashing skills?
Cuoco: The guys were in that living room set every freaking second that week, and they wouldn’t even let me play. They were all mean to me and didn’t let me get involved.
TVGuide.com: Do you get any fan mail from Cheesecake Factory waitresses... or hate mail from Cheesecake Factory executives?
Cuoco: I haven’t yet, but that would be hilarious. I'm sure there is good and bad mail.
TVGuide.com: While I'm sure they appreciate the shout-out, it's not always in the most flattering context.
Cuoco: No, it's not, and I think The Big Bang Theory's version of the Cheesecake Factory uniform is a little different. Just a little!
TVGuide.com: Lastly, what sort of TV did you miss watching during the strike?
Cuoco: The Office, definitely. But I've caught up a lot on TLC reality shows. I'm now completely addicted.
TVGuide.com: Really? My wife and I just got hooked on What Not to Wear.
Cuoco: My favorite show! I love Stacy London!
TVGuide.com: We decided we're going to dress up as Stacy and Clinton for Halloween.
Cuoco: That is the funniest thing! But I think you should be Stacy and she should be Clinton. I love that show. Whenever anyone asks me whose styles I like, I always say Stacy London. So I haven’t missed TV too much — I have all my reality shows!
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