Kaley Cuoco says she was ‘freaking out’ after ‘The Big Bang Theory’ ended because she’ll never have that salary or cast again

Big bang theory kaley Cuoco
Kaley Cuoco played Penny on ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ Taylor Hill/Getty Images; CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images
  • Kaley Cuoco said she “can’t compare” any future projects to “The Big Bang Theory” on Wednesday.
  • After the show’s 2019 finale, Cuoco said she accepted that she won’t have that cast or salary again.
  • The actress ultimately decided to leave the CBS show in “its own place” as its “own entity.”
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

“The Big Bang Theory” star Kaley Cuoco recalled worrying that none of her future projects would compare to the hit CBS series after it ended in 2019.

During an interview on “The One Show” Wednesday, the actress, 35, discussed moving on from her role as Penny when “The Big Bang Theory” came to a close in May 2019. Given that she’d spent over a decade shooting 12 seasons of the fan-beloved show, Cuoco said it was difficult to imagine her next steps.

“When I started freaking out about the comparisons there would be or what my next project would be, I realized you can’t compare anything to ‘Big Bang,'” she said, adding, “As its own entity, I’ll never have that again.”

Cuoco continued, “I won’t have that cast again, the money, the schedule, the 12 years… I mean, all of it was insane.”

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Not only were the show’s original cast members – Jim Parsons, Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Kunal Nayyar, and Simon Helberg – a tight-knit bunch, but they were also some of the highest-earning talents on television.

In 2018, Forbes reported that Cuoco was the second-highest-paid TV actress of the year, earning $24.5 million pretax between June 1, 2017 and June 1, 2018. That ranking was filed after the actress, along with the four other original cast members, each took a $100,000 pay cut in 2017 so that Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik could earn more, according to Variety.

Aware that many people would inevitably size up her future work to the popular sitcom, Cuoco said she made a decision to pursue projects for herself.

“I was like, OK, if I can accept that nothing will compare to that, I can’t control what other people are gonna say about me, but I knew my next project was gonna be for me and I was gonna leave that in its own place,” she said.

Following the series finale of “The Big Bang Theory,” Cuoco executive produced and starred in the HBO Max series “Flight Attendant.”

Her on-screen performance scored the actress her first Golden Globe nomination, which was in the category of best actress in a musical or comedy.

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Last month, Cuoco detailed the day she found out that “The Big Bang Theory” was ending during an interview with Variety’s Kate Arthur. She recalled being called to cocreator Chuck Lorre’s office and assumed the meeting was about season 13.

However, Parsons was there to break the news that he couldn’t continue on the show, leaving Cuoco “shocked.” Even though the actress said she “really did” want to keep filming “The Big Bang Theory,” she respected her costar’s decision.

“We’re all for one, one for all. And we’re not going to do this without the whole team,” she said, adding, “That was the one thing we all agreed on – we came in together, we go out together.”