The stars of The Big Bang Theory are meeting fans at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend and, like in previous years, they’ve brought a few stories from filming the popular sitcom. But the story that Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco — one-time romantic flames — told may leave some scratching their heads as to whether it’s truly a harmless gag gone wrong or a poorly-conceived on-set prank that teetered on the outer edges of bad taste.
Entertainment Weekly reported on the cast’s recollection of a “rather shocking on-set incident” that left Cuoco in stitches (not the funny kind — the ones you get in a hospital). In order to prank the crew, Cuoco and Galecki improvised a modification to a restaurant scene where their characters Penny and Leonard get into a fight. The script called for a verbal argument, but the actors decided to get physical.
The planned prank — apparently agreed to by both Cuoco and Galecki — was to have Leonard punch Penny in the face. Cuoco fell and accidentally split open her eyebrow, a real-life injury that wasn’t part of the gag. The pair didn’t notice she was hurt at first and simply kept acting, pretending to engage in a physical fight. As EW describes the rest of the scene, the blood was enough to cause everyone on set to be really concerned.
“With both of them unaware of her injury, Galecki continued to fake beat her up until someone noticed she was bleeding. Cuoco quickly calmed the crew on set and went off to get stitches.”
The incident took place while filming the Season 6 Valentine’s Day episode. In the scene — catch the version that actually aired on YouTube — Penny and Leonard are at dinner with Howard and Bernadette when Penny sees her ex propose to a new love at a nearby table.
Vulture was a bit sarcastic when it described the story as told to the Comic-Con panel — the Big Bang Theory crew had footage of the incident that they brought to the convention — and, in so doing, perhaps highlighted that the joke would have gone too far even without Cuoco’s real life injury.
“Cuoco and Galecki decided to play a practical joke on everyone and stage a violent fight between their characters — you know, some good clean fun for the gag [reel].”
“Precisely no one else on camera is laughing, and when Cuoco sits up from the floor — still out of frame so you can’t see the blood — her co-star Simon Helberg stands straight up and looks flat out scared for her.”
Cuoco even admitted on the Comic-Con panel that going far was part of the plan, according to The Toronto Sun.
“We thought it would be really funny for the gag reel to take it really far.”
Apparently, producers were not too happy with the prank because, according to Cuoco, they are no longer allowed to do those kinds of jokes.
The prank happened back in 2013, a few years after Galecki and Cuoco ended their off-set relationship. According to Today, Cuoco discussed their recent break up back in 2010, saying they had dated in secret for almost two years. Cuoco was later married to tennis player Ryan Sweeting and has recently been linked to fellow equestrian Karl Cook.
The Big Bang Theory‘s new season will debut in the fall.
[Featured image by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images]