Johnny Galecki in 'A Family Torn Apart'

By Alan Carter
November 19, 1993 at 05:00 AM EST

Johnny Galecki, who plays Darlene’s quiet, modest boyfriend, David, on Roseanne, is trying to have a quiet, modest moment at a coffee shop in the San Fernando Valley. And then just as he starts saying that he never, ever gets recognized, two young women suddenly make him the victim of a drive-by shouting. “David, we lovvvvve you!” they scream before speeding away. Galecki’s face turns beet red. “I still swear,” he says, “that kind of stuff never happens.”

Maybe it will happen less often after his fans see his frightening turn as a troubled teen who may have hacked his parents to death with an ax in NBC’s A Family Torn Apart, which costars Doogie Howser‘s Neil Patrick Harris as his brother. “I wanted to do something a little diverse from what people were used to seeing me do,” says Galecki, who has appeared in such homicide-driven TV movies as Murder Ordained and Blind Faith, though not as the prime suspect. “I’m just a big fan of true-life crime stories. I’m not a violent person.”

The oldest of three kids, Galecki, 18, an Air Force brat, was born in Belgium (his family is now based in Chicago). He asserted his independence early on: Galecki began acting in community theater at age 7 and asked hisparents if he could wear an earring at 10. When his folks said no, he says he used “a safety pin and an ice cube and did the piercing myself. My father’s only reaction was, ‘It looks like a dog gnarled on your ear.’ They figured if I wanted it that badly, I could have it.”

Galecki, who drives a GMC truck and loves the ’70s sitcom Welcome Back, Kotter, met Roseanne and Tom Arnold when costarring in their 1991 TV movie, Backfield in Motion. They gave him a Roseanne guest role, and after his short- lived 1992 ABC sitcom, Billy, ended, they expanded his part. So what about all the rumors about havoc on the set? “Honestly,” he says, sweetly, “it’s really nothing more than a very comfortable workplace.”