“We’re going to be meeting Leonard’s dad, finally,” “Big Bang Theory” showrunner Steven Molaro announced Wednesday night at the PaleyFest session for the hit CBS comedy.
Molaro then passed the announcement over to Johnny Galecki, who explained that his character’s (Leonard Hofstadter) anthropologist father — who’s been briefly mentioned but never introduced throughout the series’ nine-season run — will be played Oscar-winning actor Judd Hirsch.
As it turns out, Galecki himself proposed the role to the famed “Taxi” actor at NBC’s James Burrows tribute.
“I ran up to him and just kind of bombarded him with verbalization,” said Galecki, revealing that he drew elements from Hirsch’s Alex Reiger to mold the character of Leonard. “I did share with him, and this is true, that when we were shooting the pilot I watched the first two or three seasons [of ‘Taxi’]. Not because I wanted to base Leonard on his character, but the purpose that his character served in this group of people. [He was] just as much, at times, a voice of reason as he was just as confused as everyone else,” Galecki explained, laughing.
From there, Galecki explained, he asked Hirsch if he had any interest in playing Leonard’s dad, in the event that the show’s storyline should require a screen introduction to his character.
“It just kind of went from there,” said Galecki, who pitched the idea of Hirsch playing Leonard’s father to Molaro almost immediately following his run-in with the actor.
Christine Baranski, now a recurring guest star, has appeared in multiple episodes as Leonard’s mother, Dr. Beverly Hofstadter.
“The Big Bang Theory” returns to CBS March 31.