In the new sitcom The Big Bang Theory, Kaley Cuoco plays Penny, the hot neighbor of a couple of geeks. Although Cuoco had many parts on various shows, she didn't catch viewers' attention until she co-starred on the hit sitcom 8 Simple Rules, along with John Ritter. That show ran from 2002-2005 at which time she moved over to the series Charmed. She was also the voice of Brandy on the animated show Brandy and Mr. Whiskers.

Kaley admits that John Ritter was a big influence for her. "Just being around him every day and doing these scenes with him, I was watching and I was learning every day. And he did a take - every take was different. Every time he did it, you didn't know how he was going to do it. And he made the audience want to keep watching, and it was very interesting. He was just so, you know, wonderful to be around, which is part of it too. He made us all want to be there and want to do better. I mean, he was just hilarious, hilarious."

Before she was on the show, Kaley knew about John Ritter from his comical portrayal of Jack Tripper on the hit sitcom Three's Company. "I loved Three's Company. I would watch Nick at Nite. And when we had the [first] table read [for 8 Simple Rules], I still couldn't believe he was sitting right next to me," she gushes. "And then, two days later, he had become part of my life, like another father in my life, so it was amazing. It was more family than anything ... I will never work with anyone like that again. I mean, that was incredible." Ritter's comic talents are legendary in the entertainment world.

In Three's Company, one of the three was Chrissy Snow, a ditzy blonde. Many viewers today might make the mistake of comparing Kaley's character of Penny to that of Chrissy. Make no mistake, they are nothing alike, other than their blonde hair and great looks. But Penny is very independent and self sufficient. "She's not a blonde bimbo next door who cannot live on her own and can't take care of herself," explains Cuoco. "I mean, she is a very independent woman. She's young. She's moving out on her own now. And I think she -- well, I know she just generally likes these guys. She doesn't need them. She just wants to hang out with them. She's very capable. She's very capable. And yet, she has her moments, like we all do. But, no, I don't want to really compare it to Chrissy at all, because she's not just that dumb, cute girl next door. She's a regular girl next door who loves these guys and wants to hang [with them].

Having basically grown up in the public eye, Kaley says she's lucky to still be a working actress and getting good job offers. Let's face it, many young actors just don't make the transition to full adulthood. "You know, I feel so lucky because I think a lot of, I would say, actresses have a tough time going from 16 to 18 to 20 to 25 and being able to continue to work. And it's been really smooth. And yeah, I was just starting to drive on 8 Simple Rules. And that whole show was a whole big process for me. I didn't even know what I was doing," she says sincerely. "I learned so much. Now I'm playing a young adult, so it's nice. It's happened really smoothly. I'm so lucky because I think that's kind of a hard thing for some actors, and I've just been able to kind of ride it really nicely. And I thank God I landed here. We were talking about the sitcom thing. I also felt so lucky to get on another one because it's where I live, and it's my most favorite thing in the world. So to be able to do it again is just a godsend, so it's been -- I've been very lucky."

The Big Bang Theory airs Monday nights on CBS.

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