Melissa Rauch's Transformation Is Seriously Quite Stirring

Anyone who has watched "The Big Bang Theory" will know that the long-running comedy had a stellar cast, which included Melissa Rauch. Appearing as Bernadette Rostenkowski during her time on the comedy series, Rauch charmed viewers, impressed those behind the scenes, and found herself nominated for both a People's Choice Award and multiple Screen Actors Guild Awards alongside her talented castmates. She also participated when they "got to stick their hands and sign their names in concrete" during a ceremony "at the famed TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood," according to Entertainment Weekly.

"I was so grateful when [The Big Bang Theory] happened," Rauch told Backstage in 2016. While "it was supposed to be a one-time guest star" role, it obviously turned into so much more. Joining in 2009, Rauch stuck around until the show wrapped up in 2019 — an entire decade! — popping up on a whopping 209 episodes during that time. Fans watched as Bernadette went on a journey from being a minor character who occasionally showed up to set up a silly situation for her on-screen partner, Howard Wolowitz (played by Simon Helberg), or pitch in the occasional (perfectly timed and delivered) comedic line herself.

At the same time, viewers also watched as Rauch herself grew from an unknown performer into one of the most recognizable stars on television. Granted, that was far from the beginning of the transformation that Rauch has been through over the years.

Melissa Rauch has always been a performer

While Melissa Rauch is a star these days, she was seemingly destined for a career in the spotlight. Born in Marlboro, N.J. in 1980, Rauch said that she has always been interested in performing, even as a child. "I remember my parents said that there are people who do impersonations for a living," she recalled while chatting with the "At Home with Linda & Drew Scott" podcast in May 2020. That obviously sparked something in young Rauch.

Indeed, if you follow the star on Instagram, you will know that she often shares photos of herself as a child and it's not unusual for the images to show hints of her future profession. For instance, in February 2019, she posted an adorable shot of herself striking a pose for the camera. "#FBF to a groundbreaking production of Little Shop of Horrors which ran in my childhood NJ basement," she wrote. Noting that "the stage was a sturdy piece of craftsmanship (a busted lawn chair on top of a plastic step stool)" and that the "curtain was donated from a generous benefactor (ripped from my parent's shower unbeknownst to them)," she also pointed out that the backdrop was "a construction paper sign taped to a projection screen my parents used to show us slides from their travels before kids," and her "breathtaking lighting" was "a lamp from my father's office placed strategically on the floor." If you did not notice, she was also "wearing a silk nightgown ... as ya do in Jerz."

Speaking of Jerz...

Melissa Rauch learned to lose her accent

Melissa Rauch readily shares that she was born and raised in New Jersey. And fans of "The Big Bang Theory" will know that her character, Bernadette, had a distinctive voice. However, that's not the way that the actor really speaks. In fact, while CBS points out that "Bernadette's voice is pretty nasaly ... Melissa's real voice is nothing of the sort." On top of that, long before playing Bernadette, Rauch actually learned to drop her unmistakable accent.

After graduation from high school, Rauch attended Marymount Manhattan College in New York City where she studied theater and earned a bachelor of fine arts degree. While she was not far from home, her New Jersey accent apparently became an issue. She explained to "At Home with Linda & Drew Scott" that she was told that she wouldn't be able to "do Shakespeare" because of how she spoke. "I had a very thick New Jersey accent when I first went to study theater, which did not impress my Shakespeare professors," Rauch told New Jersey Monthly in October 2014. Although she took a dialect class in order to re-train herself when it came to speaking, she admitted, "[W]henever I'm tired or upset it comes right back."

With a new voice in her skill set, Rauch said she was "doing Ibsen and Chekhov during the day and then doing stand-up all night." Granted, that was not all it took for her to make it in Hollywood.

Hollywood was hard to crack for Melissa Rauch... but look at her now!

Although Melissa Rauch is a classically-trained actor, her career in show business was not an immediate success. In fact, she told ET, "I was at the unemployment office the day before I got the audition for [The Big Bang Theory]." Of course, fans know that, from there, she stuck with the show for years and established herself as a force to be reckoned with in the industry. That's because she not only entertained audiences on TBBT, but she has also branched out into other popular projects.

Along with nabbing gigs on "The Office" and "True Blood," she has also done her fair share of voice work on animated series like "Awesome Magical Tales," "Jake and the Never Land Pirates," and "Ant-Man," as well as 2019's "Batman and Harley Quinn" (a character that has coincidentally also been voiced by her former TBBT co-star Kaley Cuoco). And in 2015, she starred in "The Bronze," which she co-wrote with her husband, Winston Rauch.

Rauch also landed a role in 2019's "The Laundromat," which stars none other than Hollywood icon Meryl Streep. The younger star posted about the experience on Instagram, sharing a photo of herself and the legend, writing, "They say to never meet your heroes ... but in this case, working with and being in the presence of ... Meryl Streep was nothing short of a dream come true."

From performing in her basement to working alongside Streep, Melissa Rauch's transformation was nothing short of impressive!

Melissa Rauch's role in Night Court colored fans shocked

Because "The Big Bang Theory" was Melissa Rauch's most-popular project to date, her voice as Bernadette Rostenkowski has been burned into countless fans' memories. Many believed it to be her real speaking voice and were in for a surprise when Rauch appeared on "Night Court" using her actual tone and natural manner of speaking.

"Idk but I was expecting Melissa to bring her squeaky tbbt voice to NightCourt," one fan tweeted. "It's an adjustment seeing Melissa Rauch on a TV series without the Bernadette voice," said another. According to Rauch, the change was deliberate, and it took her some time to lose the "Bernadette voice." Speaking with Glamour, she revealed that she "spent the past few years in voice and speech classes" to unlearn it. The actor also dished that her voice plays a big part in approaching her roles, and "Night Court" was the first project she starred in where she decided to use her true speaking voice.

"I've always used the voice of a character as my way in. It's often one of the first things I think about when working on a new character, whether it's an accent or adjustment to the tone of my voice even slightly," she explained. "This is the first time I've done a TV role in recent years that speaks as I do."

Melissa Rauch loves changing her voice in roles

Part of Melissa Rauch's appeal as an actor is her incredible ability to change her voice every time. In fact, when she auditioned for "The Big Bang Theory," she decided to use a unique, high-pitched voice to stand out. "That was something that I came in with on my own," she told Cinema Blend in 2016. "That was something I did in the audition and then ran with it. That's actually my real voice and this is my fake voice."

In her new role as judge Abby Stone on "Night Court," she did a similar approach, which turned out to be her usual practice ever since she started acting. "Whenever I'm doing a character, I tend to get in there through the voice, which is why I did the voice that I did on 'Big Bang' and, really, a lot of the other roles that I did, that's sort of my entryway into a character," she explained to Game Rant. "Knowing that I was going to speak in my normal register in this, it really became more about the rhythms and the cadence of how he spoke versus the tone."

If she could change one thing, she probably should have made more of an effort to detach herself from the voice of her character Bernadette. She told Salon, "I've been getting, "Oh, that's your voice? I didn't know she talked like that." Part of me was like, "Oh, I should have gradually introduced the voice on this show."