News

Fast chat with 'Big Bang Theory' star Jim Parsons

Lewis Beale
Newsday (MCT)

If there is one breakthrough TV role over the past year or so, it is Jim Parsons' turn as physicist Sheldon Cooper in the hit CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory." Brilliant, supercilious, socially clueless, Cooper is alternately hysterical and horrifying. And Parsons' Emmy-nominated performance is so spot-on, it seems as if the character and the actor are the same person.

But unlike Sheldon, the tall (6-foot-2), 36-year-old Parsons, a Houston native, is actually a sports fan who does not speak Klingon. Lewis Beale discussed the role and other matters with Parsons while he was on a production break.

Q. What did you think about the part when you first read for it?

A. As a character, I don't know I felt a relation at all. What I had a feeling about was the way the dialogue was structured, the way they had structured Sheldon's speeches. Sheldon has always taken that many words to get to a point. I thought, and I still think, they brilliantly use those words that most of us don't recognize to create that rhythm. And the rhythm got me. It was the chance to dance through that dialogue, and in a lot of ways still is.

Q. In some ways Sheldon is so out of it socially, you wonder if he's borderline autistic. Is he?

A. I got asked early on, does he have Asperger's (a mild form of autism)? And I asked the writers, and they said no. Then I read up, and he does share traits with Asperger's and autism. But the writers say he doesn't have that, so that's that. His curse is his blessing, it's how intelligent he is. And his intelligence in general causes him to be able to focus so singularly on the task at hand, that things inevitably fall by the wayside that wouldn't in a normal circumstance.

Q. You're so identified with the character right now, are you worried at all that you'll be typecast in the future?

A. No. I see the reality, I see the "problem" that it could pose for me. But I say no because I don't really have a choice at the end of the day. I feel like I throw myself no more or no less into this role than I have in anything else. I feel like, as an actor, should I be pulling back on how much I give to this character? Should I soften his edges so I don't make the same impression? That's the only thing I can do, and that's an impossibility.

Q. You're actually a classically trained actor who studied at the Old Globe in San Diego, which has a rigorous program based on Shakespeare. How did that hone your skills?

A. I knew the Old Globe had a groundedness in working on Shakespeare. I had done some, but not a lot, and they asked me in the interview, you don't have much Shakespeare, and we just left it at that. They let me in, and I can't tell you how often I have thought about working on Shakespeare while working on these passages they write for Sheldon — the dense road you wend your way through past those lines. It takes more effort than I ever thought a sitcom would take. And that's really the fun of it.

Q. What were your influences growing up?

A. I was very interested in sitcoms. I remember watching "Three's Company" a lot. And I was really formed by "Family Ties," "The Cosby Show." As far as movies went, my parents took me to "Star Wars," and when I began making my own choices. "Grease" was big, then, when I was older, "The Color Purple."

Q. When did you realize you could make it as an actor?

A. I did a play in high school, "Noises Off," it's a farce, and it was the first time I felt the most honest connection to a character and a play. It was the first time I felt like an honest-to-God actor. I thought it was going to be horrible, and I'm still astounded at the reaction we got. I realized it was something I was good at.

Q. Sheldon is kind of the ultimate geek. In what ways are you geeky?

A. I like words, and I like numbers. I like crossword puzzles a lot. I like to deal with lists and rankings and statistics. I'm surprised I'm not more into baseball, because I could geek on that. I love Casey Kasem's Top 40, I love that order. I love seeing what were the nominated Oscar films.

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.

Books

New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.

Music

Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.

Music

Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.

Music

New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.

Books

'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.

Music

Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.

Music

Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.

Music

M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.

Music

Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.

Music

JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.

Music

All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.

Music

Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.

Music

Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.

Music

Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Music

Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.

Books

Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews
Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.