Things You Might Not Know About Big Bang Theory Star Johnny GaleckiPublished on November 22, 2016. Updated April 22, 2020
For years Johnny Galecki was known as David from Roseanne, and now he is best known as Leonard Hofstadter from the massively successful series The Big Bang Theory, but the reality is Galecki has been in the industry for almost 30 years, and while success has been intermittent, there is no doubt he has found it, and along the way earned himself a loyal fanbase! Get to know the talented and charming actor better with these 10 things you didn’t know about Johnny Galecki:
10. Becoming Leonard
There is now no way to imagine anyone else portraying the quirky, awkward and hilarious Dr. Leonard Hoftstadter, but in the very beginning of putting the show together, producers actually wanted the actor to portray Sheldon Cooper. Galecki, however, felt more connected to the character of Leonard and asked for that role instead. “It was a very selfish request on my part. I hadn’t been able to traverse those stories of the heart. I’ve often been cast as the best friend or the gay assistant or whatever character got to explore those relationships. I said I’d rather play this guy, who seems to have a future of romantic triumphs and difficulties.”
9. Tough Love
Fans of Galecki’s are well aware that one of his first big roles was on Roseanne as David, the boyfriend of Darlene, portrayed by Sara Gilbert. Off-screen things heated up between the two as well, and although they dated, it didn’t go much further because it was while dating the actor Gilbert realized she was gay. “I thought he was super cute and had a crush on him. We started dating, and he would come over and we would, like, make out, and then I would start to get depressed,” Gilbert revealed. “I eventually told him it was about my sexuality, and he was super sweet about it.” In fact, the two remained good friends and when Gilbert was planning on talking about coming out and her relationship with Galecki in 2010 on The Talk, she phoned him to make sure she could talk about it. “The story sort of starts with you. And I’ve got to say I made out with you and got depressed, which is kind of a bummer. Of course, being an extremely sweet guy, his response was, ‘Of course. I love you, and I think it’s really important and I’m so proud of you. If you want, I will be there, and I will hold your hand,'” Gilbert shared. “It was so sweet, and you know, this story really makes Johnny look good.”
8. Getting Started
At only four years old, Johnny told his parents that he was going to be a star, and at six years old, he began his acting career with roles at local theaters in Chicago. He landed his first on-screen role in 1987 in the TV movie Time Out for Dad, and got his big break in 1989 when he landed the role of Rusty in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Of hist first big role, Galecki stated, I was still living in Chicago with my family. I was 13, and I read for that role on tape. They flew me out to read with Chevy Chase. They must have been really hard up; I’m not sure why I got that role. I was fresh off the stage in Chicago. I had never done anything comedic before. I don’t consider myself a comedic actor now, but I certainly wasn’t then. I think I have a good idea, a good notion, a good inkling maybe of what’s funny and what isn’t. I think I can serve a good joke pretty well. But I wasn’t bringing much comedic to the table whatsoever at 13.” After his big break in the movie, his whole family moved from Chicago to L.A. to support his career, but ended up moving back, leaving Johnny to live in a studio apartment alone at 14 so he could continue working!
7. I Know What You Did Last Summer
After a string of very memorable roles, many forget that he also had a role in the 1997 hit I Know What You Did Last Summer that was packed with young talent at the time, including Ryan Phillippe, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Freddie Prinze Jr., and Jennifer Love Hewitt. For Galecki, landing the role of Max Neurick was thanks to his time living in the apartment at 14 years old, and as it turns out, Hewitt lived in the same building. “She and my little sister were friends, so I knew her a little bit. I think she suggested me for that role […] I remember doing a body cast for a scene where they open a trunk, and my dead body is in it, and there’s a crab crawling out of my mouth. I got a call that production was shut down, because Jennifer was so upset by seeing this image of me with a crab crawling out of my mouth. They were asking if I would call her and reassure her that I was very much alive.”
6. Early Life
John Mark “Johnny” Galecki was born on April 30, 1975 in Bree, Belgium, to Mary Lou Noon and Richard Galecki. His mother was a mortgage consultant while his father was a member of the U.S. Air Force and was stationed in Belgium at the time of Johnny’s birth. He is the eldest of three children with a younger brother Nick and a younger sister Alison. The Galecki family movied from Europe to Oak Park Illinois, which is where Johnny and his siblings were raised. Although he doesn’t speak much about his childhood, Galecki has said that his mother was loving, but also very tough and added her key phrase was, “I love you, now get out.” Unfortunately, Galecki suffered tragedy when his father died suddenly in a car accident when Johnny was only 16.
Although it might be surprising, Galecki was actually a smoker for quite a long time before he finally quit before season eight of The Big Bang Theory. He began smoking when he was a teenager and smoked for 25 years before finally kicking the habit, and has never been happier about the decision. “Right now, I’m very healthy. I have no vices left. Except sugary breakfast cereal. And absinthe, of course,” he joked.
4. Difficulty With Roles
Of his various roles in Hollywood, one of his most forgotten is perhaps in the 2008 Will Smith superhero film, Hancock. As it turns out, the role is mostly forgettable because it got changed around on Galecki quite a bit from his initial reading to what was actually used in the film. “Both Thomas Lennon and I read for our miniscule roles in Hancock. There were a couple of great scenes that we had initially. Then, the script was rewritten after they’d cast us and after they’d negotiated our contracts and everything. I think I’m like fourth-billed in that movie. Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman, and me. And yet I’m a glorified extra. I really have no lines whatsoever. Neither Thomas nor I knew that until we got to the set and saw the new draft of the script. Honestly, the impetus to that gig was to work with Peter Berg, because I’ve been a fan of his for a long time.” He also revealed that working on 2001’s Vanilla Sky was also difficult because, although he got to “hang around New York for three or four weeks and play Boggle with supermodels,” the director, Cameron Crowe, wouldn’t hand out scrips. “I never knew how big or small my roles was going to be. I just showed up every day.”
3. Net Worth
After almost 30 years in the industry, Johnny Galecki has now racked up 50 credits and to go along with it a whopping estimated net worth of $50 million. While he has many roles in both television and film, it is safe to say that most of his net worth is thanks to his starring role on The Big Bang Theory. During the first season, Galecki earned around $60,000 per episode but, as popularity of the show increased, so did his salary. By 2012 he was making $300,000 per episode, and finally, he and the rest of the stars made the huge deal in 2014 to earn $1 million per episode, plus more than 1 point of the series’ backend money!
2. Personal Life
In his early 40s, Galecki has now been in the entertainment industry for quite some time, and while he has often been able to keep his private life out of tabloids, he has also had high profile relationships with co-stars. He famously dated his Roseanne co-star Sara Gilbert, until she realized she was in fact gay, and more recently he had a two-year relationship with his Big Bang Theory on-screen love interest Kaley Cuoco. Although they broke up in 2009, the two have remained very good friends. Since then he has been linked to actress Kelli Garner, but the pair split after two years together and also remained friends. Galecki lives in Santa Margarita, California, where he owns 360 acres which includes a rustic log cabin and vineyards.
1. Being A Scientist
With 10 seasons under its belt, and its huge impact on pop culture, it is quite clear that in The Big Bang Theory Johnny Galecki is extremely convincing in his portrayal of a genius scientist, but make no mistake, it really is all an act. Galecki revealed that, when he and the other actors landed the role, they tried to jump headfirst into understanding concepts such as physics. “We did try. We talked to physicists at UCLA. We watched Nova. We tried to read some books but they gave me anxiety attacks by page two. We realized that we can’t pretend to think like geniuses. But we can learn to relate to them, emotionally.”