Isn’t it great when Hollywood stars find love on the set of television shows or movies? For example, Kit Harington and Rose Leslie got married after they played lovers on Game of Thrones, while Ryan Gosling and Eva Mendes fell for one another while filming The Place Beyond the Pines. After meeting on the set of The Big Bang Theory, actress Kaley Cuoco, who plays Penny, and actor Johnny Galecki, who plays Leonard, struck up a romance and secretly dated from 2007 to 2009, per Entertainment Tonight. Unfortunately, the former flames didn’t go off riding into the sunset. Instead, they formed a long-lasting bond and friendship.
“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,'” Cuoco told CBS Watch! magazine (via ET) in 2010 about their two-year romance.
Despite Galecki and Cuoco not ending up together like their characters Penny and Leonard, it’s clear that their bond is unbreakable. Keep reading to find out how the two went from lovers to just friends over the years.
Kaley Cuoco said her romantic relationship with Johnny Galecki 'took a little bit of a toll' on her
From 2007 to 2009, Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki — who both starred on The Big Bang Theory — kept their romance under wraps, which seemingly affected their relationship. “It was such a huge part of my life and no one knew about it,” Cuoco told CBS Watch! magazine in 2010 (via Entertainment Tonight). “It was a wonderful relationship but we never spoke a word about it and never went anywhere together.”
The former flames were professional and hid their feelings while working on the set of their hit show. “We were so protective of ourselves and the show and didn’t want anything to ruin that,” she explained. “We knew how to keep it deep inside and never bring it on that set, ever.”
Ultimately, the California native admitted her time with Galecki was stressful, since they were constantly “hiding” and “couldn’t do anything” in public. “It wasn’t as fun as we wanted it to be,” Cuoco confessed. “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.”
Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki weren't 'weird' on set after they split
Sadly, Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki’s romance didn’t last forever. Following their split in 2009, the co-stars didn’t make things awkward while filming The Big Bang Theory with the rest of the cast, though. “We weren’t weird, which is what was weird; it was a mutual breakup, and you can rarely say that,” the 8 Simple Rules star told Haute Living in 2019. “Johnny and I were friends first, then obviously we dated.”
Throughout the CBS sitcom, Cuoco and Galecki’s characters — Penny and Leonard, respectively — are friends before they date and fall in love. Even though they break up a few times, they eventually end up getting married. Ironically, after Cuoco and Galecki split in real life, Penny and Leonard’s relationship actually heated up on the show. “There were a lot of bed scenes,” Cuoco recalled.
Luckily, Cuoco and Galecki were able to put the past behind them. “We were a little like, ‘We were trying to end the relationship and it kept falling back in,'” she noted. “We got over it really fast, and we’re closer than ever now. It could have gone either way, and I was really proud of us.”
Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki are 'dear friends' now
After getting out of a relationship, some people never want to speak or see their ex again. In this instance, that’s not what happened, since Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco had to continue working together on The Big Bang Theory following their split in 2009. However, Cuoco and Galecki ended up becoming close pals, which is something they are both thankful for.
“We’re dear friends, still,” the Roseanne star told CBS Watch! magazine in 2013 (via Entertainment Tonight). “Kaley’s not just an ex, she’s part of my life.” Galecki was hesitant to speak anymore about their secret romance, though, because he didn’t want it to “conflict with people’s acceptance of [Big Bang Theory characters] Leonard and Penny.” He told the outlet, “I get the curiosity, but I don’t want to distract from the story.”
Meanwhile, in September 2015, Cuoco stated she and Galecki had “both moved on” from their relationship during her appearance on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. So much so, Cuoco couldn’t help but gush about her ex. “Johnny is actually one of my best friends,” she raved. “It’s a situation that ended well. I understand sometimes it doesn’t. It could have gone horrible.”
Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki have both moved on
Even though Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki didn’t end up together, these exes found love with other people. Cuoco married tennis pro Ryan Sweeting in December 2013, but the two split in 2015, per USA Today. Since Cuoco was back on the market, fans were hopeful she and Galecki would reunite, but she quickly squashed those rumors. “So sorry to disappoint, but no home wreckers or secret flings going on here,” Cuoco wrote on Instagram in 2015. “Me and @sanctionedjohnnygalecki are just the best of buds — Leonard and Penny will just have to suffice!”
In 2016, the actress started dating Karl Cook, and the two tied the knot in June 2018, per Insider. Of course, Galecki was in attendance and couldn’t help but gush about Cuoco’s special night. “Couldn’t be happier for my fake wife @normancook and @mrtankcook whose words brought us all to tears last night,” Galecki captioned a photo with Cuoco from her wedding day. “So much love for you both.”
In 2018, Galecki went public with his girlfriend, Alaina Meyer, per Today, and they welcomed a baby boy into the world a year later. In March 2020, Cuoco — who hasn’t met the tot just yet — revealed that Johnny “sends [her] pictures constantly,” telling Us Weekly, “He’s very proud. It’s really, really sweet.”
At least Penny and Leonard wound up together, right? Fans will just have to settle for Cuoco and Galecki’s incredible friendship. Bazinga!
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