Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
March 24, 1973
Currently Known For:
The Big Bang Theory
March 24, 1973
The Big Bang Theory
“One cries because one is sad. For example, I cry because others are stupid and that makes me sad.” Knowing he was destined for the stage since he was six years old and starred as the Kola-Kola bird in his school’s production of The Elephant’s Child, Jim Parsons has seen his greatest dreams come true as one of the stars of the award-winning CBS sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Parsons was a junior in high school when he recognized his natural talent as an actor after starring in the Klein Oak High School spring production of Noises Off. “I fully connected with the role I was playing and started to truly understand what it meant to be honest on stage,” he recalled.
Influenced by sitcoms like Three’s Company and Family Ties, Parsons graduated high school and earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Houston where he divided his time between his studies and the community theater, appearing in 17 plays in less than three years. During this time, he co-founded Infernal Bridegroom Productions before making his way to California where he was one of seven students accepted into the University of San Diego’s highly competitive graduate course in classical theatre. Although demanding, the experience was incredibly rewarding and allowed Parsons to further explore and refine his talents before he moved to New York and worked in Off-Broadway productions.
Parsons snagged minor roles on Judging Amy, Ed, Garden State, and School for Scoundrels but failed to find staying power and, by 2006, had auditioned for over two dozen television pilots. Then, everything changed when he read the script for a new series about two physicists and their neighbor, an aspiring actress named Penny. Instantly feeling a kinship with the dialogue, Parsons auditioned for the part of Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. “The way the writers brilliantly use those words that most of us don’t recognize to create that rhythm… and the rhythm got me,” he recalled. “It was the chance to dance through that dialogue and in a lot of ways still is.”
Continuing to dance through the dialogue as The Big Bang Theory wraps up its 11th season, Parsons has been continuously praised for his performance as Sheldon. He’s earned numerous Primetime Emmy Award nominations and even beat Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, Steve Carell, and Neil Patrick Harris for the 2009 Television Critics Association Award for Individual Achievement in Comedy. Also winning a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Comedy and earning $1 million per episode, we can’t help but wonder more about the man Parsons plays—Sheldon Cooper!
All About Sheldon: Former Child Prodigy and Theoretical Physicist
“People say you can’t live without love. I think oxygen is more important.” A former child prodigy raised in Galveston, Texas, Sheldon Cooper is a senior theoretical physicist at Caltech with his roommate, Leonard. Thanks to Young Sheldon, which first premiered in 2017 as a prequel to The Big Bang Theory, fans have learned more about Sheldon’s troubled childhood, his alcoholic father, and how the nine-year-old prodigy skipped five grades ahead and started high school alongside his older brother.
Despite his genius-level IQ, Sheldon completely lacks social skills, which is made even more apparent in his interactions with Penny, the outgoing and charming “girl-next-door” who dreams of becoming an actress. Lacking humility, empathy and tolerance, Sheldon fails to recognize irony and sarcasm in others, which ignites another level of humor thanks to Parson’s incredible portrayal and use of physical comedy. “Parson’s performance is so spot-on it seems as if the character and the actor are the same person,” television critic Lewis Beale wrote. Admitting Sheldon is a tough character to play, Parsons says the work is “more effort than I ever thought a sitcom would take and that’s really the fun of it.”
Thanks to Parson’s natural talent, Sheldon comes to life each week and embodies the stereotypical geek whose knowledge extends from biology, chemistry and astrology to economics, computers, linguistics, football, and even trains. Uncomfortable with physical touch and awkwardly using slang, Sheldon is often believed to mimic the symptoms of Asperger syndrome, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and borderline asexuality; however, Big Bang Theory co-creators Bill Prady and Chuck Lorre have repeatedly argued otherwise.
As far as relationships, Sheldon keeps his circle of friends incredibly small and, initially, challenges Penny’s intentions and intelligence since the two have very little in common. However, their relationship grows and the two become close friends as Sheldon evolves in his relationships with others and ultimately accepts Amy Farrah Fowler (Mayim Bialik) into the group. By the seventh season, he even surprises himself when he passionately kisses Amy and realizes his feelings for her, a common theme that continues throughout the show’s next three seasons and leads to their wedding, which is rumored to close the 11th season.
The Dish on Dating and Relationships
“Love is in the air? Wrong. Nitrogen, oxygen, and carbon dioxide are in the air.” While Sheldon navigates his relationship with Amy throughout the latest season on The Big Bang Theory, Parsons is well-versed in commitment and has been in a relationship with art director Todd Spiewak for over a decade. In 2012, news of Parson’s relationship came out in an article in The New York Times that lauded his work in Broadway revivals like The Normal Heart and Harvey. “The Normal Heart resonated with him on a few levels,” Patrick Healy wrote in the Times. “Mr. Parsons is gay and in a 10-year relationship and working with an ensemble again onstage was like nourishment, he said.”
Dividing his time between homes in New York City’s Gramercy Park and Los Angeles, Parsons was never really secretive about being gay and always openly answered whatever questions he was asked. However, The New York Times article gave him a bit more freedom to talk about Spiewak, which is why Parsons lovingly described their relationship as “an act of love, coffee in the morning, going to work, washing the clothes, taking the dogs out—a regular life, boring love,” in 2013. Four years later, Parsons and Spiewak exchanged vows in a private New York ceremony in May 2017.
As for what’s next in Parson’s career, the 45-year-old actor has plenty on the horizon from television and film to Broadway and even radio. Continuing to star in The Big Bang Theory and taking home a 2017 People’s Choice Award for Favorite TV Comedic Actor, Parsons starred as God in the Broadway production of An Act of God from 2015 to 2016. He returned to film with credits in Visions and Hidden Figures, the latter of which earned him a 2016 Satellite Award for Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture and a 2017 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.
Also a talented voice actor, Parsons has lent his voice to characters in Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas, Super Mansion, and Michael Jackson’s Halloween. Since 2017, he’s given Big Bang Theory fans even more of what they want by narrating and producing Young Sheldon, an American television comedy that’s a prequel to The Big Bang Theory. Dividing his time between filming the second season of Young Sheldon and wrapping up the 11th season of The Big Bang Theory, Parsons also makes time for the theatre. “Theatre was my first love,” he says. “I can’t take the theatre out of me and I wouldn’t want to. To me, it’s home.” That’s exactly why Parsons keeps returning for more and currently stars as Michael in the 2018 Broadway production of The Boys in the Band. How’s that for living the dream!