Actor Johnny Galecki came to prominence on television on the classic sitcom "Roseanne," only to reinvent himself years later as one of the stars of another wildly successful sitcom. After early roles in films like "A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon" (1988) and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" (1989), the talented teen actor gained nationwide recognition as David Healy, boyfriend to the Conners' cynical daughter, Darlene (Sara Gilbert), on the sitcom phenomenon "Roseanne" (ABC, 1988-1997; 2018- ). Determined not to suffer the fate endured by so many teen TV stars, Galecki continued to hone his craft after "Roseanne" ended, taking on roles in such indie films as "Suicide Kings" (1997) and "The Opposite of Sex" (1998), in addition to several critically lauded endeavors in live theater. A decade later, he returned triumphant to weekly television when he was cast as loveable geek Dr. Leonard Hofstadter on the smash hit sitcom "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS, 2007- ), co-starring newcomers Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco. An intelligent performer who made equally thoughtful career choices, Galecki's patience and perseverance paid off handsomely.
John Mark Galecki was born on April 30, 1975 in Bree, Belgium to Richard Galecki, a U.S. Air Force officer who worked as a rehab teacher for blind veterans, and Mary Lou, a mortgage consultant. The family relocated to Oak Park, IL when the actor was just three years old. When asked what he remembered most about his childhood, Galecki said it was running his fingers through his father's Braille books with a blindfold. He knew at a young age that he was going to be an actor, and to facilitate that dream, began performing at theater productions of "Fiddler on the Roof," "Pippin," and "Galileo" (opposite veteran actor Brian Dennehy) at Chicago's Goodman Theater when he was seven. By the age of 11, Galecki had already received a Joseph Jefferson citation nomination for portraying John Henry in "The Member of the Wedding." In 1989, Galecki booked one of his first roles, that of a young man named Billy in the holiday-themed family film, "Prancer." A bigger role came his way that same year when he played Russell "Rusty" Griswold in "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," co-starring Chevy Chase, Beverly D'Angelo, and Juliette Lewis. A hilarious running theme of the "National Lampoon" films was the revolving-door policy when it came to casting the Griswold children, and both Galecki and Lewis brought the semi-bratty characters to life in a film that would eventually become a holiday must-see event.
Three years later, Galecki's life changed forever when he booked a recurring role on the then most popular sitcom in the country, "Roseanne." For five seasons beginning in 1992, Galecki played David Healy, the artistic yet soft-spoken boyfriend-turned-husband of the title character's rebellious daughter, Darlene Conner (Sara Gilbert). The chemistry between Galecki's sheepish and loyal David and Gilbert's tomboyish Darlene, with the formidable Roseanne always getting in the middle of matters, was situation comedy at its best. Off-camera, the actor found inspiration from the often mercurial, sometimes controversial star of the show and her take-no-prisoners attitude. Impressed enough by her co-star's talents, Roseanne and then husband Tom Arnold cast Galecki in their ABC TV movie, "Backfield in Motion" (1991).
After "Roseanne" wrapped production in 1997, Galecki began pursuing feature film work. That same year, he appeared as a young man who mysteriously longs for the movie's heroine (Jennifer Love Hewitt) in the gory thriller, "I Know What You Did Last Summer." The film was a box office hit, and along with Wes Craven's "Scream" (1996), helped revitalize the teen slasher genre. He also appeared as Ira Reder, a rich kid who finds himself in hot water in the crime drama "Suicide Kings" (1997), and in supporting roles in the comedy "Bean" (1997) and the drama "Morgan's Ferry" (1999). Galecki beefed up his resume with a complex character in the 1998 dark comedy, "The Opposite of Sex," in which he played a gay teen who ends up faking his own molestation story.
Director Don Roos, who had written the critically lauded "The Opposite of Sex," also cast Galecki in his next project, "Bounce" (2000), in which the actor portrayed Ben Affleck's gay assistant in the romantic comedy that also starred Gwyneth Paltrow, Affleck's girlfriend at the time. There was three times the star power in Galecki's next film, the surrealistic "Vanilla Sky" (2001), in which he appeared opposite Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, and Penelope Cruz. Because he had a certain freedom as he grew older and less recognizable as "that kid from Roseanne," Galecki often aligned himself with projects that allowed him to show his versatility as an actor, including such roles as a young criminal in "A Family Torn Apart" (NBC, 1993) and an obsessive golfer in the first season of the blue-collar comedy series, "My Name Is Earl" (NBC, 2005-09). He returned to more sitcom work with a recurring role as Jay, the half-brother of Faith Ford and Kelly Ripa on the fluffy sitcom, "Hope and Faith" (ABC, 2003-06).
Balancing TV and film work came easy for Galecki, who maintained a presence on both the big and small screen. He appeared on the testosterone-heavy sitcom "My Boys" (TBS, 2006-2010) and co-starred with Will Smith and Charlize Theron in the superhero feature, "Hancock" (2008). Yet it was his theater work that allowed Galecki to truly push the envelope. In the Tony Award-nominated play "The Little Dog Laughed" (2006), the ex-child actor appeared in the jarring role of a male prostitute that required his first full-frontal nude scene. His dedication to the role brought Galecki to Broadway, where the play ran until February 2007, and earned him a Theater World Award for Outstanding Debut later that year.
When CBS debuted the comedy series "The Big Bang Theory" in 2007, a trio of unknown actors was cast in a post-Y2K version of the John Hughes classic, "Weird Science" (1985). Yet instead of two horny teenagers who "invent" the perfect woman, the sitcom focused on a pair of scientists - played by Galecki and Jim Parsons - who live next door to a sexy waitress (Kaley Cuoco). As Leonard Hofstadter, Ph.D, Galecki showed the same charm and innocence that made him a breakout star on "Roseanne," yet his matured good looks brought a new element to his appeal on the critical and commercial hit. In 2009, Galecki took a break from television to return to the big screen when he co-starred alongside Jennifer Morrison, Sophia Bush and Brandon Routh in the romantic comedy "Table for Three." Meanwhile, Galecki's performance on "The Big Bang Theory" earned the actor an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series - the first such recognition of his career. Picking up yet another Emmy nomination for his continued work on "Big Bang Theory," Galecki also grabbed some screen time in theaters that year opposite Justin Timberlake and Cillian Murphy in the feature film "In Time" (2011), a science-fiction thriller set in a future where time is quite literally money. Galecki's next big-screen appearance came in the New York punk scene period piece "CBGB" (2013), in which he played cult hero indie label owner Terry Ork.
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
At age seven, began performing in community theaters in Chicago
Made his TV acting debut in "Time Out for Dad" (NBC)
Made film debut as River Phoenix's brother in "A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon"
Took over the role of Rusty for "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation"
First starring role on the short-lived NBC comedy series "American Dreamer"
Played Roseanne Barr's son in the ABC made-for-TV movie "Back Field in Motion"
Cast as David Healy, the boyfriend of Darlene Conner, on the ABC sitcom "Roseanne"
Portrayed one of two adopted sons accused of murdering their parents in the NBC TV-movie "A Family Torn Apart"
Played a jealous loser who has an eye for Jennifer Love Hewitt in the thriller "I Know What You Did Last Summer"
Sold first screenplay, "Snollygoster"; co-written with Chris Kletzien
Cast as a nebbishy rich kid who folds easily under pressure in "Suicide Kings"
Played a menacing homosexual opposite Christina Ricci in Don Roos' "The Opposite of Sex"
Re-teamed with director Don Roos for a small role in "Bounce"
Played the lead role in the indie film "Bookies"
Guest starred on the first-season of "My Name Is Earl" (NBC) as a golfer
Had a recurring role as the half-brother of the main characters on the TV sitcom "Hope & Faith" (ABC)
Appeared as a young prostitute in the off-Broadway production of Carter Beene's gay Hollywood satire "The Little Dog Laughed"
Had a recurring role as Trouty on TBS's sitcom, "My Boys"
Cast as Leonard Hofstadter, PhD, on the CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory"
Had a small role in the superhero comedy "Hancock" alongside Will Smith and Jason Bateman
Nominated for the 2011 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in Comedy Series
Cast opposite Justin Timberlake and Amanda Seyfried in the futuristic thriller "In Time"