Over a 12-season run, the cast of The Big Bang Theory became one of the highest-paid on television. But before this immense success, many of them were just struggling actors trying to make a living. In fact, series regular Melissa Rauch, visited the unemployment office a day before she auditioned.
Melissa Rauch wasn’t a well-known actor before ‘The Big Bang Theory’
Unlike her Big Bang Theory co-stars Johnny Galecki and Mayim Bialik, Rauch wasn’t a well-known actor before joining the show. In 2006 she appeared in a comedy film called Delirious. And the next year, she landed a small role on the short-lived HBO series, 12 Miles of Bad Road.
In 2008, Rauch earned a recurring spot on Kath & Kim, an NBC sitcom starring Selma Blair and Molly Shannon. The show was canceled after one season. Around the same time, Rauch made an appearance in the Paul Rudd and Jason Segel comedy, I Love You, Man.
She joined the cast in season 3
The Big Bang Theory had already been on the air for two seasons before Rauch joined the cast. She was introduced in season 3 as Bernadette Rostenkowski, Penny’s (Kaley Cuoco) co-worker from the Cheesecake Factory, who is set up on a date with Howard (Simon Helberg).
Rauch made a few appearances throughout the third season. But as Bernadette and Howard’s relationship grew, she was seen more frequently. By the end of season 4, Rauch was bumped up to a cast regular.
In 2013, Rauch was nominated for a Critics’ Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. She remained on the show until its twelfth and final season.
Melissa Rauch filed for unemployment before her ‘The Big Bang Theory’ audition
Before landing her role as Bernadette, Rauch was a struggling actor trying to make ends meet. Unsure of when she would get work, she filed for unemployment. And while in line at the unemployment office, Rauch got a call about an audition for The Big Bang Theory.
“I was at the unemployment office the day I got the audition,” Rauch said during a cast interview on Late Night With Stephen Colbert. “I was doing all these mock interviews and seminars to qualify for my check. And I got the audition, I was over the moon, but I was like, ‘There’s no chance I’m going to get this.’”
Rauch went to the audition, not expecting much. But when she found out they wanted her for a callback, she had trouble deciding whether she should attend her unemployment seminar or go back in.
“I got a call saying that I was going to have a callback, and I was like, ‘I have another seminar the next day,’” she recalled. “It was like high stakes poker, do I roll the dice? I ended up going to the callback.”
Luckily, everything worked out for Rauch in the end. She was part of one of the highest-paid casts in TV, making nearly $425,000 per episode by the time she left. And according to Celebrity Net Worth, Rauch is currently worth an estimated $20 million.