“Katie” played by Amanda Walsh, the first version of Penny. / Source: bigbangtheory.wikia.com
The Big Bang Theory has been on the air since 2007, and it has become one of the most popular shows on television. But did you know that Kaley Cuoco was not the original Penny?
If the network had gone with the first choice for ‘Penny’, not only would Kaley Cuoco be different, but also the character itself, reports Moviepilot.
The character of Penny was originally intended to be different from the Penny we have grown to love. She was originally written as tough and more street-smart.
Katie, Not Penny
She’s also not a woman trying to be a professional actress (although Penny said that being a professional actress “does not mean you have to land a paid acting role”) but works in the cosmetics section of the department store.
She is described as “a street-hardened, tough-as-nails woman with a vulnerable interior.”
Penny’s character was supposed to be named “Katie” and was played by Amanda Walsh. (Yes, she played the role.)
Watch the unaired The Big Bang Theory pilot which shows Leonard and Sheldon meeting Walsh’s Katie for the first time:
Instead of meeting Penny in the apartment next door, Sheldon and Leonard encounter a crying Katie on the curb while on the way to Bombay Palace, their go-to restaurant in this iteration. Katie was supposedly left homeless after her breakup with her boyfriend.
Leonard, despite Sheldon’s objection, invites her to dinner and then to stay a few days at their apartment. She ultimately decides to crash at their apartment for a bit.
If you remember the first aired episode (and I know you do), Penny also had just gone through a break-up with her boyfriend but wasn’t left homeless. She was also invited to dinner, but in Leonard and Sheldon’s apartment, not in the restaurant.
No Raj and Howard, But with Gilda“Gilda” played by Iris Bahr. / Source: bigbangtheory.wikia.com
Apparently, Sheldon and Leonard were also supposed to have a nerdy female friend, Gilda, played by Iris Bahr. Gilda is shown to have feelings for Leonard.
On the pilot episode, Howard and Raj arrive at Sheldon and Leonard’s apartment while Penny is showering. However, in the unaired pilot, it was Gilda who arrived and felt threatened by Katie’s presence.
She relaxed after Katie tells her she isn’t interested.
The writings on Cooper and Hofstadter’s whiteboards were one of the memorable items that suggested the two were physicists.
On the unaired pilot Katie uses one of these whiteboards to rant about how her life sucks by drawing diagrams to explain her point.
Leonard says these were brought to her by her bad decisions and not by her boyfriend or her mother, etc. This upsets her, causing her to leave the apartment.
Leonard goes to Katie’s work and apologizes. She comes back at the end of the episode because staying at the boys’ apartment is her only rent-free choice, after which she takes the gang out to dance. (Instead of Penny taking them for dinner.)
According to the show’s Wikia page, Katie was criticized by an audience survey for being too mean to the guys, which led her to be cut from the series.
Would you have liked to see the series with Katie or prefer the Penny we have right now?