Melissa Rauch: Playing Against Type

The slight but feisty Melissa Rauch talks with New Jersey Monthly about her star-making turn in the hit show "The Big Bang Theory," as well as her upcoming film, "The Bronze."

Small Wonder: Melissa Rauch acts in dramas and in comedies like The Big Bang Theory and writes with husband, Winston.
Photo by Aurelien Levitan

She may be petite—4-foot-11, to be precise—but Melissa Rauch packs a powerful comedic punch. The 34-year-old Marlboro native cut her comic teeth on the stand-up circuit in New York City. Her breakthrough came in 2005 with the one-woman show, The Miss Education of Jenna Bush. Since 2009, she has starred as the good-natured yet feisty Bernadette in The Big Bang Theory, TV’s top-rated sitcom. In 2015, she’ll headline the film comedy The Bronze, which she cowrote and co-produced with her husband, Winston Rauch.

New Jersey Monthly: You can take the girl out of Jersey, but how much of Jersey is still in you?
Melissa Rauch:
I am still very much a Jersey girl. I had a very thick New Jersey accent when I first went to study theater, which did not impress my Shakespeare professors. Although I learned to speak without the accent, whenever I’m tired or upset it comes right back. Also, I live in L.A., where you have to pump your own gas. I do begrudgingly, knowing that in Jersey, we only pump our fists.

NJM: Was there a time when you wanted to be a serious thespian, or was it always about the laughter?
MR:
My background is in theater. I received my BFA in acting and was trained classically. I was simultaneously pursuing a career in comedy while in college. So I would be doing Ibsen and Chekhov during the day and then doing stand-up all night.

NJM: The Big Bang Theory is in syndication in most major markets. Do you ever get tired of seeing yourself on-screen?
MR:
It is definitely weird. I had someone next to me on a plane recently who was watching an episode of Big Bang and he turned to me and said, “Is this odd for you to sit next to me as I watch you?” I love this show so much and was even a huge fan before joining the cast, but I don’t love watching myself. It’s like listening to yourself on a voicemail recording.

NJM: You married your college sweetheart before you ever hit the big time. Any regrets?
MR:
I am very fortunate that I met my husband in college. He is my best friend and the love of my life, in addition to being an incredible writing partner. The only thing I regret is not meeting him even sooner, as my life has just gotten better since he came into it.

NJM: What can fans expect of your forthcoming film, The Bronze?
MR:
It’s definitely a departure from other roles I have done. It’s an edgy, dark comedy that we poured our hearts and souls into.

NJM: Do you hope to do more writing in the future?
MR:
Writing has always been something that has brought me great joy. When I am not working on Big Bang, Winston and I spend all our free time writing new projects. It’s so rewarding to see those passion projects come to life.

NJM: If you wanted to play one role that would blow away any chance of casting you as a Bernadette type again, what would you play?
MR:
The role I play in The Bronze is extremely different than Bernadette. I also just played a prostitute in Matthew Weiner’s film Are You Here. Although I very much enjoy playing different types of characters, I love playing Bernadette with all my heart, and hope I get to do so for a long time to come.

Click here to leave a comment
There are no photos with those IDs or post 92333 does not have any attached images!

By submitting comments you grant permission for all or part of those comments to appear in the print edition of New Jersey Monthly.