Melissa Rauch doesn’t want to wait around. Rather than twiddle her thumbs before a great gig came up, she decided to create something herself. Hence “The Bronze,” an indie comedy co-written by her (and her husband Winston), in which she also stars as Hope, a star gymnast hobbled by an injury in her teens. When we catch up with her she’s washed up, living in a Nowhere, Ohio town and aggressive towards everyone, including an aspiring young gymnast (Haley Lu Richardson) who hires her as a trainer.
For the actress, now 35, it was also a chance to strain her vocal chords in different way than she does as Dr. Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz, who she’s played on “The Big Bang Theory” since season three. We talked about her film and its show-stopping, completely bonkers comedic motel room sex scene.
Was Hope a character that originated in some form in your early comedy and improv days?
You know, it wasn’t. It was really birthed out of the script. We decided on the story first and this world of celebrity. Once we started going into her psyche, she developed from there. Even in the outline phase she wasn’t as, I guess, toxic and tough and vulgar. That all came once we started talking about how depressed and bitter she was. That was also a rebellion against all she was told over the years about how to behave. Now she’s cut off from what she wants to do by her injury. That vulgarity is her rebelling against everything she was told to do.
It’s useful to follow characters who are dealing with the fall-out of failure and disappointment. We usually make movies about winners.
What fame does to the psyche is really interesting. It’s worse when you’re passionate about what made you famous. If you become a reality star, when that fame fades there’s not that same desire to keep doing it. But when your fame is from your sport or from acting, and you’re suddenly cut off, especially from an injury, then it just highlights your detachment. That’s obviously the case for Hope. She’s trying to hold onto any bit of fame she can, because it reminds her of that happiness.
You actually played baseball when you were a kid. Were you anything approaching a real, passionate athlete?
I brag about my baseball days, but I played tee-ball, and once they took the tee away I could not hit the ball. [Laughs] I was a very un-athletic child. I was the kid in school who when they did the Presidential Health Test was on the side of the gym with an inhaler, trying to get out of it.