The Big Bang Theory star Kaley Cuoco says she was too scared to take a break after leaving the hugely popular sitcom in 2019 and revealed: “You’re easily forgotten”.
The 34-year-old actress had been preparing herself for the time she left the CBS show, establishing a company (Norman Productions) and developing a variety of programmes, one of which, The Flight Attendant, is about to premiere in the US.
The “difficult second album” is always fraught with peril and Cuoco told The Hollywood Reporter she was mentally prepared for the career jolt.
“I have accepted that nothing I ever do will compare to the experience, the show, the success,” she said.
The Flight Attendant hits HBO Max in the US on 26th November and is the story of a stewardess with a drink problem who wakes up in a Dubai hotel room with last night’s conquest in bed beside her – dead.
To go from a kooky, comedic girl-next-door to killer will be a big stretch for the audience and critics but Cuoco isn’t thinking like that.
“They’ll say I’m rebranding, but it’s just another job,” she said.
After 12 increasingly successful, money-spinning seasons on The Big Bang Theory why didn’t the Californian star take it easy for a while?
“Taking a break would definitely scare me,” she said. “You’re easily forgotten, too. You’ve got to stay relevant. But also know when too much is too much. It’s kind of a fine line.”
There was also her business to think about. Cuoco has taken some time to be thought of as a producer.
“‘Is this one you want to be in?’ is the first question when I bring a project to the studio. And I never want to get away from being in front of the camera, but making my mark as a producer is very important to me. We haven’t thrown spaghetti against the wall. I’ve brought [Warner Bros] four things in four years.”
Producing has changed her perspective on the business. “I’m amazed by anyone who gets anything made,” she said. “Getting things funded is so hard. I’m less judge-y about things that I see and shows that I watch. ‘What do you think about this show?’ Well, they made it. It’s f***ing on TV. They win.”
Hollywood is not known for doing empathy, but having been on the other side of the camera Cuoco’s attitudes to the industry have transformed and reduced her enjoyment of other shows getting cancelled.
“We’re all guilty of it,” she said. “We critique everything. I think once you’re part of every step — the blood, sweat and tears — it changes. I wish I had known that sooner.”
Cuoco’s role models are actress/producer Reese Witherspoon, Friends star Jennifer Aniston, Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus and actress/director Regina King.
She explained: “And three of those careers broke out on long-running sitcoms. These are women who played very specific characters that the world fell in love with and went off and did other things and did them brilliantly. That’s a big deal. It makes me believe that I can be something after Big Bang.”
The Flight Attendant appears to be the very definition of a one-season show, but Cuoco is looking at making another series of the thriller in 2021 despite it being a “limited” series.
“Hey, everything’s a limited series,” she laughed. “If you don’t get picked up, you go, ‘Oh, that was just a limited series.’ If you do get picked up, you’re like, ‘Yeah, f**k that. We’re doing season two!”
HBO Max isn’t currently available in the UK because its parent company HBO has a first-look option deal with Sky. However, it could be that The Flight Attendant will screen on Sky Atlantic.