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Jim Parsons Reflects on the Unseen Female Scientist from the ‘Big Bang Theory’ Pilot

Key Points: 

  • The unaired The Big Bang Theory pilot featured a female scientist character named Gilda who was ultimately cut
  • Jim Parsons revealed Gilda’s role was split into the characters of Raj and Howard in the revamped pilot
  • While a missed opportunity for representation, the changes allowed the core cast’s chemistry to flourish

Jim Parsons Discusses Cut Female Scientist from Original Big Bang Theory Pilot

Jim Parson in The Big Bang Theory
Jim Parson in The Big Bang Theory

As The Big Bang Theory rose to become one of the biggest sitcom hits of the 21st century, it’s easy to forget the lengthy development process the show went through just to get on the air initially. Recently, series star Jim Parsons reflected on one particularly interesting revision from the original unaired pilot episode that was scrapped prior to the series premiere.

What Happened to the Female Scientist Gilda?

In an interview on the Dinner’s On Me With Jesse Tyler Ferguson podcast, Parsons opened up about the existence of a female scientist character named Gilda who was part of the main friend group in the first stab at a pilot episode.

“We had one female science nerd friend as it were in our group,” Parsons revealed. “And [the] poor actress who was wonderful, they said, ‘you know what, we’re gonna split that into two and make them both men.’ So we ended up with Kunal and Simon.”

Gilda, portrayed by actress Iris Bahr, was ultimately written out. Her role was divided to create the characters of Raj (Kunal Nayyar) and Howard (Simon Helberg) who became core members of the revamped pilot alongside the remaining stars.

READ MORE: “The Boys” Finale Announced: Season 5 to be Show’s Epic Conclusion

An Early Missed Opportunity for Representation?

Sheldon Cooper
Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory

The conversion of the Gilda character into two male roles could be viewed as a missed opportunity for increased gender representation among the main cast during the show’s earliest days. However, most reports suggest the changes were prompted more by a lack of chemistry among the performers rather than any specific reservation about including a female scientist.

Presumably, had Bahr’s portrayal of Gilda gelled better with her co-stars, the character could have remained as part of the central ensemble. Or perhaps the writers may have found another way to rework the role.

Regardless, the revisions allowed the winning combination of Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar, and Simon Helberg to solidify their iconic dynamics and relationships that made The Big Bang Theory such a monster success over its 12 seasons.

READ MORE: Kaley Cuoco’s Boyfriend Was Unaware of Her ‘Big Bang Theory’ Fame: “I Live in a Cave.”

The entire series run of The Big Bang Theory is available to stream now on Max.

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