Melissa Rauch’s character Bernadette may not have been introduced to The Big Bang Theory until season three. However, she gelled so well with the rest of the cast that she may as well have been there from the beginning.
The show was an insane success, running for a staggering 12 seasons. This proved to be a double-edged sword for Rauch. While her face and name became world-famous, even her biggest fans don’t know much about her beyond this single role.
That’s a shame, because the unknown truth about Melissa Rauch is just as funny and dramatic as any Hollywood role. And her story begins back in the ’80s when she was still a child.
A real ‘funny’ childhood
When did Melissa Rauch decide to become a comedian? Back in kindergarten! Rather than discourage her love of often-risqué comedy routines, her parents encouraged her by mentioning that some people build an entire career out of impersonating others.
Her parents took it to another level by recording late-night talk shows so young Melissa could watch her favorite actors during the day. Pretty soon, she was practicing her new craft at school. While she did perform a stand-up routine at her school’s talent show, she was more known for making raunchy jokes in class that led to more than a few parent/teacher conferences!
Rauch took things more seriously when she went to college. At Marymount Manhattan College, she studied theater and performance. But what ultimately kept her from a more traditional stage career was her accent.
Put simply, the real Melissa Rauch doesn’t sound much like her character Bernadette. She has a deep New Jersey accent, so she worked very closely with dialect teachers. This worked out nicely because she learned how to do different voices for different roles — a great skill for any comedian to have.
A comedy partner in crime
One thing you may not know about Rauch is that she loves writing just as much as acting. As she told Backstage in 2016, writing is something that “feeds the creative part of me and gets to the goods of why you’re doing this.”
In college, Rauch found a writing partner in screenwriter Winston Beigel. The two spent so much time working together that they actually fell in love. They got married in 2007, and Rauch was pleased that he is a great romantic partner as well as a comedy partner.
“He is my best friend and the love of my life, in addition to being an incredible writing partner,” Rauch told New Jersey Monthly in 2014.
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A career built on… Jenna Bush?
Big Bang Theory transformed Rauch into a household name. However, we may never have known who Melissa was without Jenna Bush.
After graduating college, Rauch and her husband were trying to create a fresh take on a classic story: college kids trying to navigate the struggles of the real world. They knew their story was missing something, and that was when they saw Jenna Bush speaking at the Republican National Convention.
Jenna Bush was about the same age as Rauch, so she and Beigel created a one-woman show for Rauch called The Miss Education of Jenna Bush. It was a modest hit and got Rauch noticed by an agent. At that point, Rauch and her husband packed their bags for Los Angeles.
It really did all start with a ‘Big Bang’
Like many aspiring actors, Rauch did not have an easy time in Los Angeles. She faced rejection after rejection, including for some really sad roles (like being a hand model for TGI Friday’s).
Eventually, Rauch got the call to audition for The Big Bang Theory. This was good timing. As she told Entertainment Tonight in 2019, she was actually at the unemployment office the day before she got the call!
Once Rauch got the role, everything came together for her. Her part was intended to be temporary, but she wowed the creators enough for it to become a permanent gig. And as The Big Bang Theory became the hottest comedy in the country, her popularity continued to rise.
Behind the screens
During The Big Bang Theory, Rauch still found time for other work. And one of the most surprising aspects of her career is that she is a very talented voiceover actor. Turns out those dialect lessons really did pay off!
Rauch has lent her voice to everything from Ice Age: Collision Course to Jake and the Never Land Pirates. But she was particularly happy to voice Harley Quinn in the 2017 animated movie Batman and Harley Quinn. In addition to playing such an iconic villain, Rauch was happy to slip a bit of her New Jersey accent into Harley’s voice.
It’s quite possible this casting caused a bit of Big Bang jealousy. After all, it wouldn’t be much later that her co-star Kaley Cuoco would voice the titular role in the DC Universe Harley Quinn animated TV show!
Hollywood: take two
Rauch ultimately transformed her TV stardom into Hollywood feature roles. In 2015, she wrote and financed a starring vehicle for herself called The Bronze.
But perhaps nothing was more exciting for her when Rauch got a chance to work alongside Meryl Streep and Steven Soderbergh for a movie called The Laundromat in 2019.
“Working with and being in the presence of [director] Steven Soderbergh and Meryl Streep was nothing short of a dream come true,” Rauch revealed on Instagram.
From mother to author
A sad element of Rauch’s story concerns motherhood. In a July 2017, essay for Glamour, Rauch revealed that she had experienced a miscarriage.
“The miscarriage I experienced was one of the most profound sorrows I have ever felt in my life,” Rauch wrote. “It kick-started a primal depression that lingered in me.”
Since then, Rauch has given birth to two children. Her daughter Sadie was born in December 2017 and her son Brooks was born in May 2020. Although, Rauch revealed that coronavirus concerns kept her husband from even being in the room when their son was born.
Rauch has even used her experiences as a mother to become a children’s writer. In 2019, she penned a children’s book called The Tales of Tofu that is all about the healthy possibilities of tofu. Based on the wit and wisdom of that book, it’s clear she makes for a naturally awesome mom!
Leaving her mark (permanently)
Rauch’s Hollywood story is far from over. However, she can already say that she left a permanent mark on Hollywood itself!
In May 2019, after The Big Bang Theory wrapped, Rauch and the rest of the cast got to put their handprints in the cement in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California.
Rauch revealed on Twitter that the experience was much like starring on Big Bang: “the honor of a lifetime.”