Marisa Tomei Had No Clue ‘the Big Bang Theory’ Would Be Iconic



  • Marisa Tomei read with Jim Parsons for the female lead of  “The Big Bang Theory.”
  • The role of Penny was not right for her but she thought the concept was “iconic.” 
  • Tomei says she is just as disorganized as the character when it comes to traveling.

Marisa Tomei was almost cast as Penny, the girl next door who befriends her nerdy neighbors on “The Big Bang Theory.” 

“I thought it was a great script, and that’s why we went so far as to check it out,” Tomei told Insider in an interview promoting her partnership with Briggs and Riley. “And it’s such an iconic kind of setup, all those archetypes, the scientists, and then the kind of little hottie and the whole thing.”

She did not predict “The Big Bang Theory” would become the ratings juggernaut for CBS the show became, running for 12 seasons.

“I certainly didn’t know it was going to go on that long,” said “The Watcher” star. 

Jessica Radloff first revealed that Tomei was considering the role in her oral history of the show “The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series.” 

Radloff reported that other actors who almost played the role of Penny included Tara Reid and Elizabeth Berkley.

“I had the part of Sheldon for a long time before everything was settled. I read with Marisa Tomei. Johnny was cast by then, but he was doing a play in New York. I had come back to read with her,” Parsons said in an interview for the book. 

Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, and Mayim Bialik sitting at a table in a restaurant

Marisa Tomei almost played the part of Penny (center), who was eventually brought to life by Kaley Cuoco, on “The Big Bang Theory.”

CBS



Tomei said even though she didn’t end up in the show, she still thought the concept was great.

“It wasn’t really the right fit for me at the time, but I really did enjoy the script itself,” she added. 

Millions agreed with her. Nearly 18 million people tuned in to the series finale on May 16, 2019. 

Tomei told Insider she does share a significant character trait with Penny (who was eventually brought to life by actor Kaley Cuoco): She can be just as disorganized. 

Tomei says she wishes she used packing cubes when hitting the road, but, “I haven’t graduated to that level.”

“I just put it in,” she continued. “I always have high aspirations of packing in a very organized fashion, and then it just winds up being shoved in.” 

Marisa Tomei

Marisa Tomei attended the Hammer Museum Gala in Garden wearing a tiny bag, but says she travels with deep luggage.

Donato Sardella/Getty Images for Hammer Museum



Tomei carries tiny clutches on the red carpet but said she appreciates the room Briggs and Riley offer her to shove her favorite looks in their suitcases. 

“There’s extra space in these new Briggs and Riley luggage,” she said. “They’re extra deep so I can fit even more things in, but it’s still as compact.”



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