'Big Bang Theory': Kaley Cuoco Says She Would Have Played Penny for 20 More Years

The Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons had no interest in playing Sheldon Cooper for more than 12 seasons, but co-star Kaley Cuoco said she could play Penny for another two decades.

“It’s broken my heart," Cuoco told Extra at the Much Love Animal Rescue event in Los Angeles. "I am so sad that it’s ending. For the record, I would have done 20 more years."

Warner Bros. TV, CBS and co-creator Chuck Lorre chose to end The Big Bang Theory with its 12th season after Parsons reportedly said he did not plan on re-signing for a 13th season. Rather than continue without Sheldon, they agreed to end the long-running comedy.

After the cast and crew heard the news, "I was bad, but everyone was crying," Cuoco told Extra. In fact, they hoped it was just a joke. "I think we were all hoping for a giant 'bazinga,'" she said.

Although Cuoco would love to play her character beyond this season, she said she has not heard about a potential spin-off yet. But if Lorre offered her one, she would definitely accept. “If he called me and said 'let’s do something' tomorrow, I would," Cuoco said.

Cuoco has been on television almost continuously for more than 16 years. In 2002, she joined 8 Simple Rules, which ran until 2005. She followed that up with a stint on Charmed. In 2007, Lorre cast her as Penny on The Big Bang Theory, and the rest is history.

In an interview with James Corden, Cuoco said the ending news was "definitely tough" for the cast and crew.

"There was not a dry eye in the room, and a lot of hysterical sobs," she explained. "You know — I think I wrote this on my social — it wouldn't have mattered when it ended, we all would have been completely devastated. It was a long run, and we've been very grateful. It's time to, I guess, move on to other things. Which is so heartbreaking, but it would would have been heartbreaking no matter when."

Cuoco does have one dream for the series finale: seeing the elevator get fixed. In every episode, the cast has to walk up a staircase to reach their apartments.

“The stairs have gotten more and more exhausting as our seasons have gone on," she told Corden. "You know, season 1 and 2, we’re running up there. Now it’s season 12. We’re all a little bit older. A little more difficult getting up those steps, so I’d like that elevator to work.”

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The Big Bang Theory's final season kicks off on Monday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. Another new episode airs on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET, which will be the show's regular timeslot for the rest of the season.

Photo credit: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./CBS