Photos by Patrick Demarchelier exclusively for CBS, Story by Hudson Morgan, Styling by Angelique O’Neil
As the girl next door on The Big Bang Theory, Kaley Cuoco has brought new meaning to the phrase “Love thy neighbor.” And now that 14 million people are tuning in to the show every week, the 24-year-old actress is thinking even bigger. Sexy Patrick Demarchelier cover shoot? Done. Three movies this year, including a cool indie and a big-budget comedy with Russell Brand? Done and done. New time slot for Big Bang? You bet. On the eve of the show’s big Thursday night debut, Cuoco sat down with Watch! to talk about the series, her love life and secret relationship with a co-star.
WATCH!: What was it like working with Demarchelier?
KALEY: Unbelievable. I don’t know where I go from here! It was one of the highlights of my career. I’m never star-struck. I’ve been working for 20 years. I do not care. Him? I was in awe of him, and I never say that about anyone.
WATCH!: As if that’s not exciting enough, your show has really been gaining momentum lately.
KALEY: Which is so crazy! It just keeps doing better and better. The show is so funny, and I’m proud to be a part of it. Who doesn’t want to be on a series for a long time? People would kill for my job. It’s opened so many doors for me.
WATCH!: And now that you’re shooting a big studio film (I Hop, with co-stars James Marsden, Russell Brand and Elizabeth Perkins), do you get to be high-maintenance on set?
KALEY: [Laughs.] Yeah, I need to throw a tantrum or something! Someone needs to get fired or I need to yell at someone.
WATCH!: You finally posed for Maxim. How does it feel to be an official sex symbol?
KALEY: It was funny, because when the magazine came out, I was like, “Man, that’s so great.” And I swear, two weeks later, it’s gone. You’re hot one minute, and then the next girl’s on the cover!
WATCH!: What made you decide to do it?
KALEY: I’d been offered it for years, but you only do those sorts of magazines when you’re successful. You do not do them when you’re not. I had meetings with my team-ugh, how Hollywood is that? So douchey. So lame, I hate it, I hate it, so embarrassing-and I said, “I’ll do it now because my career is hot and the show is good.”
WATCH!: How did you manage to avoid the scandal phase of the young actress life cycle?
KALEY: I don’t do anything stupid in front of people. I don’t show my crotch to cameras when I get out of cars. I don’t understand some of these people! I get drunk on my own with my friends-I’m not going to go to the Ivy. I’ve just grown up in this business. It’s work to me. It’s not my ticket into fun. I can’t tell you the last time I went to a club.
WATCH!: Then what’s a typical night for Kaley Cuoco?
KALEY: In front of the TV with my dog. So embarrassing! My glasses, my iPad, my dog. A glass of wine and whatever leftovers I have in the fridge. It’s really sad, actually. [Laughs.] A girlfriend called me and said, “Let’s go to dinner at 8 o’clock.” I was like, “Ehhhh, that’s a little late.” I go to bed at like 9. I think that’s why I’m single.
WATCH!: Yeah, that probably doesn’t help.
KALEY: No guy wants to hang out at 9 p.m. at home!
WATCH!: What about the guys you work with?
KALEY: Well, I dated [co-star Johnny] Galecki, so … yeah. We dated for almost two years. It was such a huge part of my life and no one knew about it.
WATCH!: How did you keep it under wraps?
KALEY: This is the first time I’ve ever talked about it, ever. It was a wonderful relationship but we never spoke a word about it and never went anywhere together. We were so protective of ourselves and the show and didn’t want anything to ruin that. But that also made it sad, too. That’s not the kind of relationship I want-I don’t want to be hiding. We couldn’t do anything. It wasn’t as fun as we wanted it to be. Everyone was always asking, and we deny-deny-denied. And I’m like, “Why am I denying this person that I love?” It took a little bit of a toll on me and I think it did for him, too. Not that I want to go traipsing down a red carpet with anyone, but there’s got to be a happy medium.
WATCH!: Why not just admit it, get it out there?
KALEY: That’s the way I would have done it. But certain people didn’t want to do it that way, which I understand. We knew how to keep it deep inside and never bring it on that set, ever.
WATCH!: When did you two split up?
KALEY: We broke up before the holidays and worked that whole time. We dodged a huge bullet. Dodged a war. But when you’re dealing with two professionals who have been working since they were both 4-and who kept their lives extremely private- we didn’t want anything other than that. So we’re not going to screw it up, and were not going to screw it up for everyone else and make things weird. There was so much at stake, and we both knew that. It was really intense.
WATCH!: Sounds like it. Have things been awkward on set?
KALEY: Moments were really hard, but we have such a love for each other-and we knew we weren’t destined to be together-that we accepted it and said, “Look, if we ever break up, we will be professional.” I’m so lucky it was a mutual ending and that we don’t hate each other. We’ve seen that happen on other shows.
WATCH!: Do you still talk?
KALEY: At the wrap party he gave me a huge hug and I was like, “I’m really proud of us.” And he was like, “I know, me too. We didn’t kill each other, or kill other people. We made it.”
WATCH!: So what does all this mean for Penny and Leonard?
KALEY: I do think they’re meant to be, but it’s gonna be a while from now. And I like that they’re broken up. Penny needs some other dates. As does Kaley, so Kaley hopes that Penny gets cute dates on the show so Kaley can date them in real life.
WATCH!: Do more guys ask you out now that you’re single?
KALEY: No! And I was on the cover of Maxim! [Laughs.] I think men are scared of me. I don’t know why. I’ve had such bad luck. I’m just going to stop trying.
WATCH!: Are you more of a heartbreaker or a heartbreakee?
KALEY: I get my heart broken constantly. I fall really hard, really fast. And even when I get my heart broken, I do it again. Like, immediately. I just have a huge heart, I have so much to give. I’m not a casual dater. I like to have a boyfriend, I like to be in a relationship, I want to get married someday. Trust me, I wish I could be that casual slutty girl who dates everyone.
WATCH!: What kind of guys do you go for?
KALEY: I don’t have a type. If you could see the men I’ve dated, it’s like a prison lineup. I love to laugh and goof around, I don’t take myself seriously, and I just want someone to have fun with. They’ve got to be able to keep up with me. The truth is, I am such a good girlfriend! I’m just ready to have a good boyfriend. I’m like the best girlfriend ever!
WATCH!: Would you get involved with another actor?
KALEY: No more actors. Or how about, no more actors that I work with. What if we start with that? Let’s start slow. [Laughs.] I’ve dated so many actors, I’ve got to be done with that. Oh my God, there are so many insecurities that come with actors. They’re very narcissistic and they’re very self-loathing. And I’m sure actors say the same thing about us. They call us “wack-tresses.” And, yeah, we are. My friends are always like, “You’ve got to stop dating actors!” And I’m like, “I don’t know who else to date.” So now my goal is to date an athlete. I don’t know if you know tennis, but Bob and Mike Bryan are my god- brothers. So I told them they had to introduce me this year to some hot guy at the U.S. Open.
WATCH!: Tennis? How about, say, a football player?
KALEY: No. I need to like the sport.
KALEY: Hot. I love basketball players, but they fool around too much.
WATCH!: How about a rock star?
KALEY: Absolutely not. … Well, maybe for a night.