Kaley Cuoco can boast being one of television’s highest paid actors after appearing on The Big Bang Theory for more than a decade.
Her role as the surname-less Penny helped her make bank big time when she began earning a whopping $1 million per episode — but her rise to fame began with Barbie commercials, not a big bang.
Cuoco was born on Nov. 30, 1985 in Camarillo, Calif. Her parents were supportive of her various pursuits, which included acting. “There was no lightbulb moment where I moved to California and wanted to be an actress,” Cuoco said during a 2017 New York Post interview. “It happened as if I was born to do it.”
Cuoco appeared alongside Denzel Washington in the 1995 movie Virtuosity, and she played a younger version of Ellen DeGeneres’ character on the sitcom Ellen in 1996 (via IMDb). The following year, Cuoco got to tell Jennifer Aniston how much she loved her while working on the romantic comedy Picture Perfect.
And now, Cuoco has since transformed into a star equally as huge as Aniston thanks to her big break, as she landed her first major TV role just a few years later.
Tragedy struck after Kaley Cuoco’s big break
From 2002 to 2005, Kaley Cuoco played Bridget Hennessy on the ABC sitcom 8 Simple Rules. The character was the popular teen girl stereotype: pretty, ditzy, and obsessed with boys. Bridget also had a habit of baring her midriff and a tendency to butt heads with her overprotective dad.
Bridget’s father was played by Three’s Company star John Ritter, who tragically died at age 54 after suddenly falling ill on the set of 8 Simple Rules in 2003. Cuoco remembers her time with her TV father fondly, recalling how Ritter won her over when he brought his dad act to their first table read.
During a September 2018 appearance on the REELZ series Behind Closed Doors, Cuoco said she was dressed like her character when Ritter walked in and saw her skimpy ensemble. He sternly told her to “put a sweater on” before removing a sweater from someone in the room for her to cover up with. “And he goes, ‘Dress like that from now on,'” she recalled (via Today). “That was my introduction to him. I was in love from that moment on.”
After 8 Simple Rules was canceled, Kaley Cuoco went on to play a witch on the popular CW series Charmed. Her multi-episode arc nearly helped her score her own supernatural spinoff series, but instead she found herself undergoing a dramatic transformation for the 2007 Lifetime movie To Be Fat Like Me. Cuoco’s character was a thin high school student who conducted a social experiment: She wore a fat suit while attending summer school. She discovered that fat shaming is a real issue after being treated cruelly by her judgmental peers.
Cuoco told ABC News in February 2008 that people were also rude to her in real life when she was in costume. “I was afraid to go to the set in the fat suit,” Cuoco said. “It made me never want to eat again.” Cuoco made other comments suggesting that she learned the wrong lesson from her experience when she told the Quad-City Times in January 2007 that she had taped a picture of herself wearing the fat suit on her fridge. “We’re all afraid of something like that happening to us,” she said.
Kaley Cuoco went under the knife and doesn’t regret it
During an April 2014 interview with Cosmopolitan, Kaley Cuoco revealed that she got breast implants when she was 18 years old. While some celebrities live to regret their plastic surgery procedures, Cuoco described going under the knife as the “best decision I ever made.”
Cuoco elaborated on why she decided to get a breast augmentation while speaking to Redbook in December 2014. She explained that it was all about feeling more comfortable in her own skin. “I had no boobs! And it really was the best thing ever! I always felt ill-proportioned,” she said.
“My implants made me feel more confident in my body.” Plastic surgery comes with plenty of risks and can be a real career killer, but after giving her self-confidence and her bra size a boost, Cuoco went on to land the role of a lifetime on The Big Bang Theory.