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The Stairs Scenes On The Big Bang Theory Were Way More Complicated Than You Would Expect

During its 12 multi-award-winning seasons on CBS, the geek-science hilarity of "The Big Bang Theory" plays out primarily in the rooms, hallways, and stairs of the fictional Pasadena apartment building where core characters Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), and Penny (Kaley Cuoco) live. In fact, the sets used on the series are so familiar to fans that they've essentially evolved into characters of their own.

In addition to the various apartment rooms, for instance, the landing between Sheldon and Leonard's digs and Penny's place often serves as the stage for friendly, serendipitous meetings as characters bump into each other on their way in or out. But it's also a mini battleground where arguments are waged before one party or the other storms off, slamming the door behind them. Likewise, the basement laundry room is frequently a place for private discussions not likely to occur in the more public, upstairs environs. As a multi-camera sitcom filmed in front of a live audience, most of the above areas posed no major problems when it came to shooting a given scene — not so the stairs. As explained in a newly published tell-all book about life in front of and behind the cameras on "The Big Bang Theory," it was no simple feat to capture the comedy as it occurred going up and down the show's familiar stairways.

Shooting scenes on the stairs took impeccable timing

The apartments that Penny, Leonard, and Sheldon call home are situated on the fourth floor of their building, with stairways on either side of the landing. There's an elevator as well, but it hasn't worked since Leonard's rocket fuel mishap, as detailed in Season 3, Episode 22, "The Staircase Implementation." As the recently published behind-the-scenes book "The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hit Series" reveals, shooting scenes that take place on the stairs is an art form all its own.

Series' director Mark Cendrowski explained, "They would write these stair scenes but you needed to time them whenever a character turned the corner." The main problem was that the audience's laughter could cover up the next line. "You'd realize a line is so funny that you needed to move a couple [of] lines to the next floor because the laugh was going to carry over to the next flight of stairs," Cendrowski said. Fortunately, however, the same hall-and-stairs set was used for all the levels in the apartment, so it wasn't too difficult to reshoot. "The set dressers had it down to a science," the director revealed. "The numbers on the door changed, the tape [on the broken elevator door] went up, [and they would] throw a bicycle out there."