Filming the last episodes of The Big Bang Theory has been a challenge for Mayim Bialik, who said she suffered from massive anxiety after doing a scene in a sensory deprivation tank, which triggered her claustrophobia.
In the April 18 episode, "The Inspiration Deprivation," Sheldon (Jim Parsons) suggested Bialik's Amy Farrah Fowler use a sensory deprivation tank to calm her nerves while the two compete for a Nobel prize. While it might have helped her character on the show, it did the complete opposite for Bialik in real life.
"In real life I’m claustrophobic," Bialik wrote in the latest entry of her Grok Nation blog. "I was not at all excited to be placed in this giant Mork & Mindy type egg thing with the cover closed. The cover was controlled by a person holding a string that rigged the cover open, so there was the issue of human error adding to my worry."
"When filming, we would wait until the very last second before cameras were rolling to shut me into my pod," Bialik wrote. "The only blessed relief was that I was able to see some light coming in through the back of the pod where the lid met the unit, so that actually helped. It relieved me of the feeling of being held underwater."
Bialik said anyone who has claustrophobia would understand her situation. But ultimately, the moment turned out to be one of her favorite scenes to make.
"If you’ve never experienced claustrophobia, that’s what it can feel like: your throat closing in, water from some unknown source filling your chest and neck and head up as death greets you with her steely gaze inside of your mind," she wrote. "Needless to say, this wasn’t one of my favorite scenes to film."
Bialik continued, "I generally run pretty high anxiety-wise, so sensory deprivation is not something I am rushing to do. I have been to places where they do a sound bath, and I liked that a lot. I loved the science of it. But not being able to see or hear while trapped in a pod? Not for this mama."
Bialik and the other members of The Big Bang Theory cast are preparing for the show's finale, which will air in May. On April 12, Bialik published an emotional essay about saying goodbye to a character she has played since Season 4. She shared pictures of her dressing room, and how difficult it was for her to take down her personal items.
"The details of the end of something are always complicated. Things don’t just end," Bialik wrote. "They cease to be, and we have to literally dismantle the structures that held them up. My dressing room held me up in so many ways. And all of this is so bittersweet. But honestly, the taking down of the things that comforted me feels mostly bitter! I wonder what the last thing to be taken down will be. Probably the picture of me at five-years-old, which is on the door that faces the hallway."
The Big Bang Theory airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.
Photo credit: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc./CBS