BURBANK, Calif. -- With "The Big Bang Theory" ending after 12 seasons, viewers can comfort themselves with reruns. The cast has those — and residuals— but not the reassuring workplace rhythm and camaraderie.
During the closing days of taping the hour-long finale that airs at 8 p.m EDT Thursday on CBS, stars Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Mayim Bialik, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar and Melissa Rauch spoke to The Associated Press about their experiences on the top-rated comedy, and about what they'll do next.
CUE THE KLEENEX
Cuoco: There's a lot of emotions going on, very bittersweet. It's very strange that a lot of people are coming up to me saying, "How are you?" like someone died.
Parsons: It's a real rite of passage moment in your life. And much like more "normal rites of passage," be it a bar mitzvah or a wedding or a graduation, there is a feeling of accomplishment. And like those events people also tend to cry, even if they are happy and they know that this was organic and the way life is supposed to go.
Nayyar: The thing I'm going to miss most is my banter with Simon, with everyone, the fact that we've gotten along so well. There's not a lot of places you can go anymore that you feel safe just being yourself.
Rauch: I think it's going to hit me around the time we normally come back after a hiatus. In August, when I'm gearing up because we're coming back, I think it's going to be, "Oh, I have a table read coming up," and realizing that I don't.
Parsons: I'm still very focused on continuing to seek out work as an actor almost exclusively. I'm not finding anything like writing or directing or anything else that's overtly calling me. I'm just trying to keep moving and active as I can so that the right next thing will speak loudly when I see it.
Cuoco: For me, producing. I'd love to continue to work as an actor but I love the development process, and I just started dipping my toe into it a year ago. I enjoy putting pieces together.
Helberg: I picture myself growing a beard, and waking up at noon and sitting at the piano playing music, or trying to get into photography. Sounds kind of romantic. My favorite thing to do is act, so I'm going to do a play in the fall.
Nayyar: When we started "Big Bang," there weren't a lot of opportunities for South Asian actors. And now what's happening you're getting the best of both worlds (here) and in India. We make 900 movies a year in Bollywood. Now you have Netflix India, you have Amazon India. There are many beautiful, big novels that are being made for this cross-cultural platform, and they're looking for talent and I hope I can help fill some of those roles.
Bialik: I have a couple of projects that I'm looking to produce for other women, and obviously the science space is somewhere that I live in always. But I think I've never been at a place in my career where I could have more of a voice.
Galecki: I really enjoy being more a part of the storytelling. I made the same mistake a lot of actors do, assuming that the process starts with your first day on set and ends with the wrap party. To be in the room when the seminal idea is hatched and nurtured through to the end is really exciting for me.
Rauch: My husband and I write together, and we have our production company here at Warner Bros. And also just spending time with my kiddo is a good thing to do.
'BIG BANG,' FOR POSTERITY
Cuoco: We are in a very modern era where everything is streaming, everything is binge-watch. Our show is as classic as it gets. People still want to tune in and I like that idea of television. I like being able to talk about it all week and look forward to your favorite episode of a show. We don't have that as much anymore.
Galecki: It's a show all about relationships and that's timeless. And I hope it will endure. I don't see a time where 100 years from now that wouldn't resonate or be relatable.
Bialik: If I were a young student at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) and this show had existed, I would have loved the male characters as much as the female, because I think for a lot of women that kind of (science) interest is very genderless.
Rauch: That it's inspired a lot of young girls to go into STEM is so exciting to me.
THE END: A BANG OR A WHIMPER?
Bialik: We're just hoping I don't have to be pregnant.
Parsons: We're obviously on this Nobel trajectory which is going to wrap. I feel like we might lose. We aren't, at the end of the day, real people who could be listed in the history books on the Nobel. So do we want to go that way?
Cuoco: It should just end with all of us around the table eating Chinese food, like we always do. Simple as that. And I want them to fix the elevator. Or not fix it, but address it in some way.
Helberg: I don't want anyone to die. That would be pretty definitive and not funny either, necessarily. Unless they fell down the elevator shaft, that would tie it all in.