Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Neal
Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: RidiculouslyExtraordinary. Posted by Ryan Neal
December 9, 1980
Currently Known For:
The Big Bang Theory
December 9, 1980
The Big Bang Theory
“Look what you created here, it’s like Nerdvana.” From The Big Bang Theory, Old School, and MADtv to his starring role alongside Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins, Simon Helberg has earned endless praise for his outstanding talents as an actor, comedian, and musician. The son of actor Sandy Helberg and casting director Harriet Helberg, Simon Maxwell Helberg came into this world on December 9, 1980 in Los Angeles, California. He attended the Crossroads School in Santa Monica and was close friends with fellow actor Jason Ritter who, coincidentally, was his roommate at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. By then, his parents’ love of acting and the industry itself had rubbed off on him as he honed his talents as an actor at the Atlantic Theater Company.
Spending his early career performing alongside comedian Derek Waters as part of the sketch comedy duo Derek & Simon, Helberg briefly joined the cast of MADtv in 2002 and made is feature film debut as a geek student named Vernon in Van Wilder. The following year, he appeared as Jerry in Old School and in two episodes of Reno 911! but struggled to find staying power with only minor credits as Terry Andersons in A Cinderella Story, as aa CBS page in Good Night and Good Luck, as Jeff in Arrested Development, as Alex Dwyer in Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and as Dreidel L’Chaim in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story.
Accustomed to minor roles and shooting failed pilots that never went anywhere, Helberg’s life completely changed in 2007 when he auditioned for and won the part of Howard Wolowitz, an engineer on The Big Bang Theory. Because of his previous experience as a struggling actor with a long list of failed pilots, Helberg had given up on the idea of finding a lasting job and was ready to settle for whatever he could find. “I actually kind of let go of the idea of having a job, like being on a show,” he admitted. “I thought, I’ll do a pilot a year and support myself, and maybe one day one will go or not…”
Although he thought The Big Bang Theory script was good, he was only there to do the pilot until he heard the audience’s reaction during the first scene of the pilot. “I wasn’t in it, but I was watching on the monitor—there was some line, a scene with Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki, and the audience went so crazy, and they were laughing for so long. I remember I went out of my dressing room going, ‘What is going on?’ And it was just laughing…” Things only got stranger for Helberg when he and Kunal Nayyar made their debut on the series. “When I finally entered, it was in the middle of the show… and upon entering, we got an entrance applause, which was insane, because they didn’t even know who we were. There was no intro to us. We just knocked on the door and the audience went crazy.”
Eleven seasons later and the audience is still going crazy for Helberg and the rest of The Big Bang Theory cast. In fact, the show’s incredible success as one of the longest-running sitcoms in American television has opened dozens of opportunities up to Helberg that he struggled to find before… but, more on that in a moment! First, let’s take a look at the wild world of The Big Bang Theory and Helberg’s portrayal of Howard Wolowitz!
All About Howard: From “Froot Loops” Astronaut at the International Space Station to “Rocket Man” the Aerospace Engineer
“Come on, one day this may double in value and be worth half what I paid for it!” Howard Wolowitz is an aerospace engineer at Caltech who earned his engineering degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Although he lacks a Ph.D. like Leonard, Sheldon, and Raj, Howard is often described as the least intelligent of the group with Sheldon introducing everyone as “three geniuses and their friend Howard.” Howard, of course, comes to his own defense and talks about his work as a former astronaut who’s been considered for top government projects including NASA missions and the International Space Station where his nickname was “Froot Loops.”
Apart from his work, Howard lives with his mother (until he moves in with his wife, Bernadette Rostenkowski) and is the most perverted and worst dressed of the group thanks to his 1960s-era style that includes turtlenecks, dickey collars, lapel pins, slim-fitting pants, vintage Vans, leather windbreakers, and his prized belt buckles. His wardrobe perfectly matches his belief that he’s a “ladies’ man” and only makes his outrageous pick-up lines even more comedic especially when he tries them on Penny who abruptly refutes him and calls him “disgusting.”
Often using magic and card tricks to approach women, Howard’s obsession with the opposite sex pales in comparison to his bromance with Raj. That’s why Howard’s romantic relationship with Bernadette, a waitress paying her way through college to study microbiology, is so significant. Although they initially have nothing in common, Howard latches on to the idea of having a lasting relationship and proposes to Bernadette who rejects the first offer but accepts the second time. Eventually marrying and moving in together, Howard navigates his life as a married man and is shocked in season nine when he learns that Bernadette is pregnant. Bernadette and Howard welcome their daughter, Halley, into the world and, in season 11, learn that they’re expecting a second child!
The Dish on Dating and Relationships
“I am a horny engineer. I never joke about math or sex.” Giving a stellar performance as the horny engineer, Helberg is even-keeled in real life and, like his character, is happily married with two children. Early into his career, he met and fell in love with actress Jocelyn Towne and, after a few months of dating, married on July 15, 2007. Together, the couple welcomed their first child, daughter Adeline, into the world on May 8, 2012, followed by the birth of their son, Wilder Towne, on April 23, 2014./p>
Amid their lives as new parents, Helberg and his wife worked together on the 2013 film, I Am I, which Jocelyn wrote, directed, produced, and starred in. “I had worked with her as an actress before and felt comfortable doing that,” Helberg said, “but I had never worked with her as a director because she had never directed anything. It was very exciting to see her with such a clear vision and with such confidence, stepping into something completely unknown… She put on a different hat, or a different outfit, and went into this scary place and just took complete control over it. She really had an incredible sense of the story she wanted to tell. So, it was great to be in scenes with her and be directed by her because there was such a focus there.”
Thrilled to work with his wife, Helberg went on to write, direct, and produce We’ll Never Have Paris in 2014 and, in 2016, joined Meryl Streep in Florence Foster Jenkins. Playing Florence Foster’s pianist and earning a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor, the experience was incredible and nerve-wracking for Helberg. “I tend to function at a very full-throttle anxiety mode all the time,” he admitted of the project and working with the legendary Streep. “I felt nervous, as I kind of always do, and probably a little more just given how much I cared and how much I wanted to do my best. But when we were doing it together and playing music and acting and talking, it felt like a very collaborative, even playing field.”
Apart from film, the 37-year-old Helberg has appeared in episodes of Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, The Tom and Jerry Show, and Comedy Bang! Bang! but tends to focus all his attention on The Big Bang Theory—and rightly so! “It’s hard to imagine ever having something that tells you where you’ll be in years to come,” Helberg said of the show’s ongoing popularity over the last 11 years. “It’s an incredibly rare thing to be a part of a show that has such an unbelievable following and is received so well, and has a network and studio that has such confidence in it. It’s not lost on me, how unusual that is, these days, especially… As actors, we tend to usually have some issues with self-esteem and some need for validation, and it takes a while for that fear of not having a job to go away. I certainly think that it looks like we’ll be around for a little while.” As Big Bang Theory fans, we couldn’t be more excited to see Helberg at work and how Howard’s story unfolds!