Kaley Cuoco Recalls Nearly Having Leg Amputated After Horseback Riding Accident
Kaley Cuoco nearly lost her leg in a horseback riding incident several years ago.
Cuoco and “The Big Bang Theory” cast, as well as creator Chuck Lorre, recalled the scary incident in “The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series.”
In an excerpt posted by Vanity Fair, Lorre says, "That was the darkest, most frightening time in all twelve years [of the show]. Kaley could have lost her leg. It was a series of miracles that allowed us to get through that and for her to come out the other end of that healthy."
Johnny Galecki added, "They were talking about amputating her leg, which was devastating to hear."
Cuoco was reportedly riding a horse at an L.A. ranch in 2010 when the animal got spooked, pitching Kaley off. When the horse tried to jump over her, it landed on her left leg, leaving her severely injured.
The star was rushed to the hospital, and Lorre said he thankfully ran into Dr. Stephen Lombardo from Cedars-Sinai sports medicine, who was able to help. Chuck said surgeons were able to “stop an infection because her leg was wide open."
Cuoco recalled, "Before I went into surgery, they made me sign something that said, 'We don't know until we get in there and see this leg, and it could come out that you don't have it anymore.' That wasn't the case, obviously, but I had to sign something that said, 'Okay, you can.’”
She added, "Everything ended up fine, and I was up and working a week later, but the doctors acted like I was never going to walk again. It's still too much for me to go into, and it sounded way worse than it was. And of course it was spiraling and everyone was freaking out, which I get. It scared people."
Johnny told her, "But I think it scared people in a good way, myself included. The first day I saw you in that state, I just shed tears in my garage."
Kaley was hospitalized for two weeks, and eventually got back on her feet with the help of a walking boot. She missed two episode of “Big Bang,” but Lorre said the accident could have ended the show.
"It was an absolutely miraculous intervention that I ran into Dr. Steve," Lorre said. "Every time I see him, I say, 'Thank you! You saved Kaley! On a lesser level, you saved ‘The Big Bang Theory'!"
The new “Big Bang” book has been making all kinds of headlines, including its revelation of the time Kaley got a pixie cut in 2014.
In an excerpt posted by Glamour, she confessed, “I just f**king cut my hair off and didn’t tell anyone. I did it for an independent film called ‘Burning Bodhi,’ and basically showed up to our ‘Big Bang’ wrap party with short hair. [Co-creator] Chuck [Lorre] hugged me and said, ‘Wow, look at your hair!’ and I said, ‘Do you like it?’ I don’t know if I was being rebellious. I mean, I did do it for the movie, which was my excuse to cut it.”
Cuoco explained she was sick of her hair and thought short hair would be easier. It wasn’t!
“I cut it and it ended up being more work because it wasn’t easy to style.”
Lorre added, “We didn’t have a heads-up on the haircut! When you think back on it, it was startling. I wish we had been in the loop. Had she come to me, I would have told her how the ratings dropped on ‘Dharma & Greg’ when Jenna Elfman did the same thing. And they dropped on ‘Felicity’ as well. The audience had become infatuated with the character, and not just the character’s behavior and flaws and strengths, but in how the character looked. They became iconic, and to disregard that audience attachment was a mistake. And I witnessed it firsthand.”
He insisted, “It would have been the same thing if Johnny [Galecki] had come to the wrap party and had shaved his head. We’re all in this together! But I love that Kaley recognized it for what it was. She’s very self-aware, and we survived it. As bumps in the road go, that was a small one.”
Vanity Fair also ran an excerpt about Kaley and Johnny’s off-screen romance.
The stars played love interests Penny and Leonard on the sitcom from 2007-2019, and dated in real life from 2008-2010.
In the excerpt, Kaley confessed, "I had a very big crush on Johnny early on."
"I was so not even hiding it," she insisted. “He has such swagger. We were both dating people at the time, but I only had eyes for Johnny. Then, when I found out he had eyes for me, too, I was like, ‘Uh‑oh, this is going to be trouble.’"
Galecki, however, was clueless.
"I have a healthy ego, but you really have to kind of club me over the head to let me know you're flirting with me," he said. "I had zero idea of any sort of crush before Kaley and I began dating."
Cuoco pointed out, "All the scenes up until we actually got together in real life, it was obvious there was always something there. There was chemistry and we were crushing on each other. That was the whole first season until we actually got together for real."
The exes actually shared their first kiss in character the night Penny wore a sexy kitten costume to Leonard’s Halloween party.
"I knew I looked real cute in that outfit, so I was feeling really good about myself," Kaley said. "And I knew he thought I looked cute because he commented on how cute I looked in that outfit earlier. But I was definitely nervous before that kiss."
Galecki added, "I mean, Kaley Cuoco as a kitty cat? Come on!"
Cuoco said she was nervous about their first kisses on-screen and off, explaining, “I mean, I was kissing him as Penny before we ever dated, and it's weird when you have a crush on someone and you're kissing them as actors."
Looking back, they both agreed that their connection grew while filming “The Nerdvana Annihilation,” which was the 14th episode of Season 1.
The episode involves a dream sequence in which Leonard saves Penny in an elevator shaft.
Kaley said they “fell a little in love in that elevator shaft,” Johnny agreed, "We felt something, yeah. I think that was a massive turning point [in our relationship]. At that point, both she and I knew that something mutual was felt, and that it was going to be more of a distraction from the work to try and continue to ignore it than to actually recognize it and surrender to it."
At some point following the episode, Galecki asked Cuoco out for a drink.
"I was so excited when he texted me. I was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ And I knew that was going to be trouble — getting a glass of wine with him. I knew. And we kissed at the bar! It's so dark in there that you almost feel like you can do anything, but then it was like, ‘Uh‑oh, I think this is really going to be bad.’”
The actress revealed, "We started kissing in the bar area, and then we were kissing in the parking lot. Johnny can get really in his head and want to hide, whereas I'm the direct opposite. I would have told everybody the next day at the table read. I would have announced it and said, ‘We're together!’ But he was like, 'We can't tell anyone!' So we kept it quiet."
Galecki said that despite trying to keep the romance under wraps, show creator Chuck Lorre did catch them kissing.
“One time Chuck busted us hiding behind a car in the parking lot. It was after a show... and we ducked down, like kids hiding from their parents!” Johnny said. “And he totally busted us, but he was classy about it and didn't say anything. We just didn't want anybody to worry.”
Chuck insisted he didn’t recall the incident, saying, "I can't remember that. That might be one of those things I compartmentalized like, ‘I can't deal with this, I don't have the mental, emotional bandwidth to deal with an on‑set romance.’"
Kaley called that “such a Chuck answer!” adding that they kept it professional and “never even had [sex] in our dressing rooms. Absolutely f**king not. Not a chance in hell. I wouldn't do that. I'm not in the mile-high club. None of that…."
Cuoco also reflected on how their off-screen relationship influenced their on-screen one.
"I think a lot of what made Leonard and Penny work so well was my relationship with Johnny off camera," she said. "They were always giving each other sh*t, and Johnny and I have a similar relationship — which you do after years of being together. We've always had each other's backs, and you can't lose that. And I do think it happened on-screen. It made our relationship funny and endearing."
“The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story” is available today.