It’s been almost three years since The Big Bang Theory—the CBS sitcom that made Kaley Cuoco one of the richest women in television—wrapped up its 12-year run, but in some ways it feels like a lifetime ago. Since then Cuoco has found herself busier than ever thanks to her captivating performance as flight attendant Cassie Bowden, a young woman with a drinking problem and a penchant for finding herself in sticky situations, on HBO Max’s comedy thriller The Flight Attendant.
In its first season, the series—based on the New York Times best-selling novel by Chris Bohjalian—became the streaming service’s number one show during its run. It went on to receive nine Emmy nominations in total for season one and earned Cuoco, a 30-year industry vet who executive-produces the series, her first Emmy nomination for lead actress in a comedy series, as well as placement on some of Hollywood’s most prominent lists, from The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment Power 100 to one of Variety500’s 2021 honorees.
And from the moment Cuoco wrapped season one of The Flight Attendant to when she began filming season two last September, the 36-year-old has acted in two films—this summer’s Man From Toronto, opposite Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson, as well as Meet Cute with Pete Davidson. She has also optioned the rights to two more projects through Yes, Norman Productions, the production company she started in 2017. Those include A Season With Mom, based on the book about a mother and daughter’s baseball-loving bond, and an upcoming limited series on Hollywood golden-era legend Doris Day, based on A.E. Hotchner’s 1976 biography, Doris Day: Her Own Story.
Cuoco has always been a bankable star; even before charming audiences with her sarcastic, witty portrayal of Penny on Big Bang, there was her role as John Ritter’s daughter on ABC’s 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, plus a 22-episode stint on the WB’s Charmed. But it’s The Flight Attendant that has given her a certain cachet that until now has been fairly elusive.
Yet, as it so often goes, professional success doesn’t always equate to personal happiness. Fans assumed she was living her best life, especially when she would share sweet and self-deprecating videos with her husband of three years, equestrian Karl Cook, and their many rescue animals throughout the height of the pandemic. She’ll be the first to tell you that none of it was for show, and she felt—and feels—very grateful and fortunate for her success and relationship, but Cuoco announced last September that she and Cook had filed for divorce.