It isn't easy to last in Hollywood. It's a tough industry, and there are many talented actors and actresses who just never manage to get their big break. But Johnny Galecki had a bit of a different experience in Hollywood because he started at such a young age.
Many new fans assume that Galecki got his start when he was older since they really only know him from The Big Bang Theory. And while it's true that his role as Dr. Leonard Hofstadter is the one that catapulted him to mainstream superstardom, he's actually been involved in the industry for far longer than that.
Galecki got his start when he was just a kid, appearing in a few movies and projects during his teen years and eventually landed a steady gig on the sitcom Roseanne.
Galecki had about a decade between Roseanne wrapping up and getting his leading role on The Big Bang Theory where he starred in a variety of other projects. However, there's no denying that he's a sitcom superstar. Now that his current show is wrapping up, we have to admit, we're totally curious about what projects he's going to tackle next!
Whether they've been a fan since the Roseanne days or simply since Dr. Leonard Hofstadter, here are 20 things viewers may not have known about actor Johnny Galecki.
20 He Was Born In Europe — Belgium, Specifically
Johnny Galecki is a midwestern boy and was raised in Chicago, Illinois before heading out to Hollywood to make it in the entertainment industry. However, he wasn't actually born there. It turns out, Galecki was born in Bree, Belgium.
His parents are from the United States as well, but his father was in the U.S. Air Force at the time of Galecki's birth, and Belgium simply happened to be where he was stationed.
The Galecki family ended up moving to Chicago when Johnny was just three years old, so he likely doesn't have too many memories of his early childhood in Europe, but still—that's pretty neat!
19 He Was A Child Star
While Johnny Galecki is now a household name who can probably snag any role he wants, that wasn't always the case. He wasn't acting before he could walk, but he did start as just a tween. He did two films when he was just 12 years old, ended up snagging a pretty major film at 14, and then got on the cast of Roseanne when he was 17. Talk about a whirlwind!
It must have taken so much dedication and motivation to stick to it at an age when many peers were just hanging out relaxing, not working long hours on set. And, before he was even in Hollywood, he was acting on stages in Chicago at just 7!
18 He's Close Friends With Former Roseanne Co-Star Sara Gilbert
There are some actors who co-star in television series or movies together and end up parting ways and never really seeing each other once the project wraps. Then, there are others who forge lifelong friendships on set. Sara Gilbert and Johnny Galecki definitely fall into the latter camp.
The two met when they were on Roseanne together and became close friends.
In fact, Galecki was a somewhat unusual part of Gilbert's journey to discovering who she really was, as he dated her for a while. The two have stayed close friends through the years and know they can always lean on one another in tough times, which is pretty adorable.
17 His Real Name Is John — But He Goes By Johnny Professionally
Many actors end up selecting stage names that make them sound more serious. They don't go by childhood nicknames, instead picking names they think will get them recognized. Johnny Galecki took a different approach. His actual name is John Galecki, but he's always gone by the more informal Johnny.
Perhaps it's just because he got his start as a tween and that's what he went by at the time, but the name stuck through the years. Perhaps it was a conscious choice, as Johnny is a bit more memorable than John, and he wanted to stand out from the crowd. Either way, it's an interesting choice on his part.
16 The Producers Wanted Him To Play Sheldon — But He Wanted The Role Of Leonard
There are many cases of actors who originally audition for a certain character on a show, and end up getting the part of another—it's something Johnny Galecki knows well!
When he first got in the room for a chance at landing a spot on The Big Bang Theory, the producers saw him as Dr. Sheldon Cooper.
Galecki, however, pushed back because he wanted a different part so he could truly flex his muscles as an actor. During his years in the industry until that point, he often was cast as the best friend or sidekick, and he wanted a chance to explore romantic relationships on screen. So, he ended up auditioning for the part of Leonard, and obviously, he got it!
15 He Went From Making $60,000 An Episode To $1 Million An Episode
It's tough to know how successful a television show will be from the very beginning. So, unless you have a huge superstar on the cast who refuses to take less than a certain amount, many actors are paid relatively modest sums during the first or second season of their show. That was the case for Galecki—while $60,000 an episode is a ton of money for many people, in Hollywood terms, it's a pretty modest salary per episode.
As the show progressed in popularity, the cast negotiated their salary from season to season. Galecki went from earning $60,000 an episode to earning $300,000 an episode, and the upward trend just continued every season. Eventually, he managed to negotiate a cool $1 million per episode.
14 He Used To Live Outside Hollywood, In Santa Margarita, California
Most stars, especially those who have jobs on television shows where they have to show up on set season after season, live in California. Whether they opt to live in Hollywood itself or somewhere a little bit outside it is a personal choice.
Galecki wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles so he opted to buy a home in Santa Margarita, California.
He owned 360 acres, which is a ton of land, and the property even had vineyards! Unfortunately, Galecki ended up losing his Santa Margarita mansion during some California fires—we wonder if he loves his new home as much as he loved that one.
13 Leonard's Glasses Are Fake — Johnny Has Good Eyesight
Most fans are so accustomed to seeing Johnny Galecki in glasses that it can seem a bit strange to spot him on the red carpet without them. It almost feels like something is missing! However, the glasses are exclusively for Dr. Leonard Hofstadter—Galecki himself doesn't need them. In fact, the glasses that Galecki wears on screen don't even have lenses inside them.
We imagine a large part of that is simply to avoid any issues with glare on the glasses, but still—take a close peek next time they zoom in on Leonard's face to see if you can spot the empty frames!
12 He Dated Co-Star Kaley Cuoco In Real Life For Years
When actors are spending long hours on set together, it's not uncommon for sparks to fly. That's what happened between Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco. While Cuoco is now happily married to equestrian Karl Cook, for a while, she and Galecki were partners.
However, you may not have heard much about their relationship, because they kept things quite private.
Cuoco isn't really the type to hide her romantic relationships, but Galecki is notoriously private about his personal life, so he didn't really want to reveal anything. So, while they dated for several years, they were pretty much never spotted in public together. Crazy!
11 He Was In The Music Video For Dave Matthew Band's "Satellite"
At this point, many people have forgotten just what a big deal music videos used to be. Many bands ended up finding celebrities to appear in some way in their videos, and those celebrities went on to become huge superstars.
It's fun to see the small projects they did when they were just aspiring actors! In Galecki's case, he had the opportunity to appear in the video for Dave Matthews Band's "Satellite" when hew as just 10 years old. He likely doesn't even remember all that much about the experience, but still—that's a neat thing to have on your resume. We wonder if he's a fan of the band!
10 He's A Vegetarian
Nowadays, it seems like every celebrity is on some kind of interesting meal plan or food trend. There are certain celebrities that eat super low carb and high protein because that's what their bodies respond to best. There are others who are totally plant-based, cutting out everything from meat to dairy. The options are endless!
In Johnny Galecki's case, you won't ever find him eating a steak or beef burger—he's a vegetarian.
He hasn't made the transition to full-on vegan yet, but who knows—he does spend a lot of time with Mayim Bialik, who is a huge advocate of vegan eating. Perhaps one day she'll convince him to make the leap!
9 He's Only 5'5"
On The Big Bang Theory, there are often jokes made about Howard Wolowitz' height or Bernadette's height. In comparison, Leonard seems pretty average. However, it just so happens that Johnny Galecki works on a cast where many of them are on the shorter side—in actuality, he's only 5'5" and would likely be the shorter one on many other casts.
It just goes to prove that there's no set look for a leading man in Hollywood. He's taken on the kinds of roles where he's a romantic interest, and he's not 6 feet tall and super muscular. We love when Hollywood allows different looks to really thrive in the industry.
8 He's A Bit Of A Workaholic
There's no denying it—being an actor isn't always an easy job. Sure, the public perception is that they're always walking the red carpet or getting glam or simply hanging out in their luxe trailer on set. In actuality, though, acting involves many long days on set and can be really challenging.
However, it's not as much of an issue for Galecki, because he's apparently a bit of a workaholic.
While he wouldn't classify it as something unhealthy, he has mentioned in previous interviews that he doesn't really know what to do with himself when he has down time between films. Now that he no longer has a regular sitcom filming schedule, he'll have to pick up a few hobbies!
7 He's A Taurus
Johnny Galecki was born on April 30, which officially makes him a Taurus. That star sign has a ton of positive traits, including patience, generosity, dependability, and persistence—all things that we would agree Galecki possesses! However, they can also potentially be stubborn, self-indulgent, or even possessive.
Whether or not you believe in astrology, it can be fun to find out which celebrities share the same sign that you do. We're not sure if Galecki is really the type to ever read through his horoscope, but it's still interesting to know! Maybe he's low-key a huge astrology fan and checks out what's up with the Taurus on a daily basis—you never know.
6 He Snagged A Role In National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation Without Any Comedy Experience
Even if you're a huge fan of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, you may not have realized Johnny Galecki plays the son. He looked totally different at 13 than he does now!
The role was definitely a huge opportunity for him, and it was a bit unusual that he snagged it because he didn't really have any comedy experience.
Up until that point, Galecki had been working in theatre productions in Chicago, and ended up getting flown to Los Angeles to audition for Chevy Chase. They obviously liked him, and he snagged the role. It seems that they recognized a future comedic star when they saw him, since he went on to appear in countless sitcoms after that!
5 He's An Executive Producer On A New Sitcom
There are some actors who only ever want to be in front of the camera. They love the process of creating a character and bringing them to life and have no desire to get involved in other aspects of the entertainment industry. However, there are also plenty of actors who want to flex their creative muscles in a different way by stepping behind the scenes and producing or directing.
It seems that Johnny Galecki falls into the latter camp. While he was busy with The Big Bang Theory, he also decided to produce a new sitcom called Living Biblically. It was cancelled after only one season, but Galecki probably got a lot of great experience from the process.
4 He's Worked With Mayim Bialik Before
It's always fun to get a new addition to a cast, so we imagine it must have been a blast for The Big Bang Theory crew to start working with Mayim Bialik. Many assumed she'd just be appearing in a few episodes, but she's become a staple of the show over the seasons she's appeared on it.
However, there was one cast member she had already actually met before ever stepping foot on set—Johnny Galecki!
Back when Mayim was a child star appearing in the sitcom Blossom, Galecki played her date in an episode. She worked with a lot of guest stars over the years on the show, so we're not sure how clearly she remembered, but still—that's kind of a crazy coincidence!
3 He's A Motorcycle Nerd And Loves Riding
Okay, we have to admit, we never would have pictured Johnny Galecki on a motorcycle. Perhaps it's because we're so used to seeing him as the nerdy Dr. Leonard Hofstadter on the show. In real life, though, he's a huge motorcycle enthusiast and at one point drove a Harley Davidson Softail Deluxe.
We have to imagine navigating Los Angeles traffic is probably a whole lot easier on two wheels than it is on four wheels—perhaps that was his trick for always getting to set on time! Maybe one day he'll use his motorcycle skills in a role—we'd love to see him do a complete character 180 and play a biker or something like that.
2 He Lived Alone In Los Angeles At 14
The entertainment industry is definitely a tough business, especially when you're young—and Johnny Galecki had a bit of an unusual experiment. When he was just 14 years old, he landed a role on a show, American Dreamer.
He obviously couldn't commute in regularly from across the country in Chicago, so the entire family moved to Los Angeles to make it work.
However, they soon missed their home town and just couldn't envision living in Los Angeles long term. So, Galecki's family ended up moving back to Chicago, leaving Galecki alone in Los Angeles as a teen. It seems like a crazy situation, but Galecki has admitted that he really just worked and didn't really get into any trouble.
1 He Told His Parents He'd Be On Television When He Was Just Four Years Old
Many celebrities don't realize that they want to be on stage until later in life, but Johnny Galecki has always known he was meant to be in the spotlight. His mother spilled to People that he was always quite an artistic and creative kid and apparently told the family that he would be on television when he was just four years old.
That's right—at just four years old, he could already envision what it would be like to be on set, appearing on televisions around the world. It just goes to show how things end up working out—his dream became a reality a decade after he uttered those words at four!
Sources: Fame10, IMDB, Good Housekeeping, Variety