It was another celebration – one of many in the final “Big Bang Theory” season – and Kevin Sussman seemed apologetic.
“I have to go,” he said quietly. “I’ve got an audition.”
Auditions used to bring futility and frustration. “As a struggling actor, I couldn’t get any work,” he said.
But now things should be different: He’s Stuart on “Big Bang.” The show is – as Warner Brothers TV chief Peter Roth said in the celebration — “the longest-running multi-camera comedy in television history.”
In its final season, it’s had good stories for Stuart, who wasn’t a regular until the sixth season. Suddenly, his comic-book store is thriving and he even has a girlfriend, Denise (Lauren Lapkus). On May 9 (shown here), a week before the final episodes, they’ve worn out their welcome at the home of Howard and Bernadette.
All of that is a big leap from the original idea — “it was just two episodes,” Sussman said – and a bigger one from his start in New York.
Sussman, 48, grew up in Staten Island and had all the proper training – graduating from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan, then studying for four years with Uta Hagen, who taught Broadway’s best.
Still, he had a look – more Don Knotts than George Clooney – that wasn’t going to bring leading-man jobs. Some of the early roles were simply described as “tuba guy,” “calculator guy” and “supernerd.”
Sussman got by on commercials — “I was the go-to guy for tech commercials” — and brief TV guest spots. “I had a run of crazy-friend roles.”
Things perked up when he was cast as Betty’s original boyfriend in “Ugly Betty.” He moved west, did 15 episodes and landed more TV roles … almost becoming Kripke in “Big Bang.”
Then along came Stuart, a role that fit Sussman neatly. “We’re probably equally as cheap and as much a bundle of neuroses,” he said.
And now he’s a part of something big. As a multi-cam – a show done live in front of an audience — “Big Bang” has all is sets in a long row. The celebration, officially naming the studio for “The Big Bang Theory,” was near Leonard and Penny’s apartment.
Further down is Stuart’s store, with enough items to make comic fans envious, from posters — “Mister Miracle. He cheats death! He defies man! No trap can hold him!” — to action figures.
It’s a fun place to visit, but Sussman had to rush past quickly. He had an audition to go to, trying to start his post-Stuart life.
— “The Big Bang Theory,” 8 p.m. Thursdays, CBS.
— May 9 episode includes a focus on Stuart (Kevin Sussman)
— May 16, final two episodes. Also, “Unraveling the Mystery: A ‘Big Bang’ Farewell” at 9:30. The show’s seven stars – but not, alas, Sussman – are scheduled to be on “The Late Show” at 11:29.