Kaley Cuoco remembers late co-star John Ritter as 'an unbelievable actor' who told a lot of dad jokes

If you ask Kaley Cuoco, the late John Ritter, who played her TV dad on 8 Simple Rules... for Dating My Teenage Daughter, deserved an Oscar for his turn in the 2003 movie Bad Santa.

“I don’t think anyone realized, he was such an unbelievable actor,” Cuoco said on Monday’s episode of Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard podcast “Yes, he was hilarious and could do a pratfall and make you just pee your pants laughing, but he was an unbelievable actor.”

Cuoco, who was promoting her upcoming HBO Max series The Flight Attendant, has frequently paid tribute to the Three’s Company star. He died on Sept. 11, 2003, after collapsing onset of the show he did with Cuoco. Ritter, who was just 54, died from a tear in the main artery of his heart that had gone undetected.

The Big Bang Theory alum recalled her first meeting with Ritter, in which she played his daughter from 2002 until his death. He slipped into dad-mode immediately and Cuoco, who was a teen herself, appreciated it.

“I had on — because I played a little hot 16-year-old, right? So I was dressed really sexy, thinking that’s what I should do,” Cuoco said. “So John walks in, and he sees me, and I go, ‘Hi, I’m Kaley. I play your daughter.’ And he takes his jacket off and puts it over me and says, ‘Don’t ever dress like this again.’”

While it sounds like that could be an uncomfortable encounter, Cuoco said it was the opposite, because Ritter was laughing the entire time.

“It was really joyful, like, he had a huge smile. It wasn’t negative,” Cuoco explained. “It was like, ‘My daughter doesn’t dress like this’ is what it was ... Isn’t that the cutest?”

Cuoco remembered that Ritter would make the same handful of dad jokes every day, but they would always make her laugh. She described him as “the best of the best of the best of the best in every way.”

Ritter would make one of his favorite jokes whenever the cast members were all together in a scene, something that happened regularly on the family sitcom.

“So we’d have these dinner scenes, and we would rehearse with chips. There were always chips around,” Cuoco said. “And he’d always come up behind one of us. We’d be totally not noticing and he’d come and he’d put a chip on our shoulder, and he’d go, ‘Do you have a chip on your shoulder?’ And then he’d walk away. Every day.”

John Ritter and Kaley Cuoco goof around at the 2003 Teen Choice Awards. (Photo: Chris Weeks/WireImage for Backstage Creations)
John Ritter and Kaley Cuoco goof around at the 2003 Teen Choice Awards. (Photo: Chris Weeks/WireImage for Backstage Creations)

Cuoco had kind words for other co-stars, too. She called Katey Sagal, who played her mom on the show — later called simply 8 Simple Rules — as “cool as s***.” She revealed that she and The Big Bang Theory co-star and ex Johnny Galecki are “closer today than we ever were.”

Cuoco also had nothing but good things to say about Alyssa Milano, who she worked with on Charmed. Cuoco appeared on 22 episodes of the show seven seasons into its run, so she was “terrified” to walk on set for the first time.

“And I walk in, I give a wave and Alyssa stands right up, leaps across the couch, puts her arms around me and goes, ‘Welcome to our show. I’m so happy you’re here.’” Cuoco said. “I know that sounds really small but that changed everything for me. I’ll never forget that she did that because I was so scared and she didn’t have to do that.”

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