Born in Belgium but raised in the heart of the American Midwest, it’s only fitting that actor Johnny Galecki, 39, has found a home in millions of Americans' living rooms -- first as David on the groundbreaking show Roseanne, and now on the wildly popular series The Big Bang Theory, which returns this fall for its 8th season on CBS. Galecki reveals his next big health challenge, how being gentler on yourself is better, and why he’s traded racing a Hog for riding a tractor.
1. You were still a teenager when you were on Roseanne. Did any of the plot situations mirror stuff going on in your own life?
It was actually the opposite for me. I had just moved to L.A. without family and my life was all about getting my bearings as an adult, while I was playing a teenager. But I remember watching the pilot with my family in Chicago and feeling like they were peering in our window -- that's how realistic the show was in many other ways.
2. Are you anything like your super-brainy character, physicist Leonard Hofstadter, on The Big Bang Theory?
The writers do pick up on things and work them into the characters, whether it's dynamics between us actors or other stuff. But in terms of my IQ and Leonard's? I'm not telling. I did take an online IQ test years ago -- twice. I'm not revealing the score, but there was a huge discrepancy between the results.
3. What about Leonard's many health issues?
Nope, I come from fairly hardy stock. I do have terrible eyesight though, so I truly need those glasses.
4. You bought land on a vineyard outside of L.A. Is this your retreat?
Totally. It's a great place to get away from the madness of L.A. At first, owning the property was intimidating. I was a city kid and I travel a lot. But I feel like the place marks a new beginning for me. I even have a tractor!
5. What's your worst health habit?
Smoking. It's a tough one, but I have a plan in motion to quit and I am excited about it. I've tried [quitting] before but never felt this hopeful or ready.
6. Do you have a fitness routine?
It wasn’t easy, being from the Midwest, where there really wasn't a lot about health or fitness being taught. No one in my family went for a jog or had a gym membership. For a long time, I actually looked down on exercising, [thinking] it was a bourgeois thing for fortunate people who hadn't been wrecked by blue collar jobs. Today is another story. I love the elliptical machine.
7. What changed for you?
I was doing a play [in 2006] and had to get into serious shape for the role. I had a hardcore, twice-a-day regimen. Becoming committed to that changed everything for me. Now I consider exercise more about mood moderation than vanity. There's not a bad mood that I can't fix with 20 minutes on the elliptical.
8. What's your best health habit?
I've totally bought into the whole juice thing, and I make a real effort to stay consistent, despite frequent travel. Also, don't tell my brother, I do yoga. I'm a fairly stocky guy, so I like doing things that use my own body weight to keep off added bulk. The psychological element has also been life-changing for me.
9. Do you have a health philosophy?
People need to be gentler with themselves. Instead of beating yourself up for eating or drinking too much, I believe you need to coddle that side of yourself. Be kind and gentle -- like you would with a loved one. Otherwise it could be a lifelong pattern of self-loathing and neglect. And I think that's how people end up very sick.
10. You used to ride motorcycles a lot for fun. Is that still a hobby?
With 200 coworkers who rely on me to be there every day, I feel like risking my life on a motorcycle isn't quite so mature. These days I keep my bikes at the vineyard.
11. Where would you like to travel next?
Iceland. I want to see the glaciers before they're gone!
12. You turn 40 next year. How do you feel about that?
Great! I always felt better about being 30 or 31 than being 27 or 28. Being in the latter part of a decade can feel like heading downhill, and to start a new decade -- there's a real optimism to that. I have so many opportunities and adventures to come.
13. So what age do you feel inside?
Oh, that can vary per hour. I will say that right before I turned 39 I had this moment of, 'Oh my god, where did the last 8 years go?' It was a sinking feeling at first, but then I realized: 'Oh! They went into this work I am fortunate enough to do.' So that was great.
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