An interview with Simon Helberg for season six of The Big Bang Theory
Simon Helberg plays Howard in the hit comedy, The Big Bang Theory. With the sixth season about to air, we caught up with the talented actor to discover some insider secrets on upcoming storylines, space travel and blissful married life…
What’s going to happen to Howard in the new series of The Big Bang Theory?
The writers like to keep us in the dark, so I’ve got no idea what’s happening. Howard and Bernadette got married in last season’s finale and Howard got sent into space, so there are a lot of things going on – but the question everybody keeps asking me is, ‘Where are Bernadette and Howard going to live as a married couple?’ That’s going to be a big problem in a fun way because they haven’t resolved it. He’s going to annoy someone a lot, whether it’s his wife or his mother. I guess we’ll have to see what exactly happens, but he’s definitely got some growing up to do this year.
Where do you want Howard and Bernadette to live?
I a big fan of pure conflict and I’m a big fan of making a fool of myself, which is why I think living with his mother will be more fun for the show. That will add more conflict to the story, but it might be a little too sad for him to do that. I don’t know. Either way, his mother is going to continue to be a presence in his life. There is always going to be someone yelling at him from a different room.
Who is the voice of Howard’s mother in the show?
A character actress called Carol Ann Susi provides the voice of Howard’s mother. She’s Italian in real life. She’s not Jewish; she just sounds like one. She’s got an amazing voice and she talks like that even when she’s whispering. She’s got no volume control, but she’s incredibly sweet. She stands at the side of the stage to say her lines and it’s always fun when she’s around.
How often does the actress get recognized as Howard’s mother?
Carol Ann Susi is so funny. She is from Brooklyn, in case you couldn’t tell. She doesn’t drive, so she takes the bus everywhere. Last year, she told me that the bus driver recognised her one day, which was very funny for her. She also gets recognised often in restaurants. I guess she’s got a very memorable voice.
What else are you looking forward to seeing happen in the show this year?
I’m really excited to see how Howard and Bernadette develop into their new married life. I can’t wait to see the problems of being a newlywed. I think he’s going to have to put his clubbing days behind him and put the leather pants up on the top shelf of the closet. It’s going to be fun to discover if he can really be a one-woman man.
How much has Howard changed over the years?
He’s changed a lot, which is exciting to see – but it’s always baby steps. He’s not going to grow up too quickly. In fact, none of the characters grow up too quickly.
Who has grown up the most on the show?
I’m not sure. Look at a character like Sheldon and you’ll discover it took five years for him to hold someone’s hand! It was earned, though. It didn’t feel forced and it didn’t feel stalled. I think the tempo of the writers is amazing. We haven’t jumped the shark on the show or done anything that feels formulaic.
How long can the show continue?
I think there’s a lot of life left in the show because it continues to work well. Like I said before, I feel like everything is earned and the integrity is still there. I guess we’re excited to keep coming back until there is nothing else to do.
Do you ever disagree with the writers and say things like, “Howard would never say something like this. Can you change it?”
All of the actors in the show are pretty loyal to what they write, but the writers are very open-minded. They have such a good knack for the characters – but if something doesn’t feel right, we don’t have to say it. If it sounds wrong when we say something then everybody notices it. There’s not a lot of discussion if that happens. It just gets changed. By the time we get to Tuesday night and we shoot in front of the studio audience, it usually always feels right. If it doesn’t, then the audience lets us know.
You were offered an exclusive trip into space at Comic-Con earlier this year. Why did you say no?
We did something pretty cool in giving away that space trip to a fan, but it was completely scripted. I wasn’t allowed to say yes. However, now I’m realising that it wasn’t very fair. I should have just improvised and said yes to the trip. Then that would’ve been it; I’d be going into space! I think I did the more responsible thing by staying on this planet, though.
The Comic-Con crowd must have gone wild when you gave the trip away…
You know what? There was a weird feeling in the room when the trip was given away. It was very exciting, but it was also very ominous and there was a strange, hushed silence. I think the audience was terrified, excited and in disbelief all at once.
Would you like to go up into space, just like Howard in the show?
It’s easy to say yes, but I’m not sure how I’d handle a trip like that. If you called my bluff, I might panic a little. I would love to have the memory of being in space and looking down to Earth, but I’m not sure if I’d be the best passenger. Maybe I can inject the memory of space into my brain like they do in Total Recall? That would be nicer.
Would you be too scared to take a trip into space?
I’d be too scared of getting sick and dying, or burning up in the atmosphere. I’d be thinking things like that for the entire journey. I would love to see the Earth from up there, but it’s much easier to go to Google Maps and see it on a computer screen.
Do you think Howard’s trip into space will boost his ego?
Definitely. I think you’ll hear a lot of bragging from Howard this year. He’ll be wandering around the place telling everybody where he’s been, even though it sounds like he’s going to be bullied in space. It might be a sensitive topic, but I think he’s going to definitely hype it up.
Will a NASA spacesuit be his favourite new clothing option?
Oh, sure. You’ll see him wearing a NASA shirt to just take out the trash! That’s how he works. That’s how he is. But that’s what makes him wonderful.