Who Is Jim Parsons?
Actor Jim Parsons studied his craft at the University of Houston and the University of San Diego. Following a series of small film and TV roles, he rocketed to fame as the socially stunted but brilliant theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, winning four Lead Actor Emmy Awards during the hit sitcom's 12-year run. Along with appearing in films like The Muppets and Hidden Figures, Parsons has earned acclaim for his performances in Broadway productions of The Normal Heart and The Boys in the Band.
Early Life & Education
James Joseph Parsons was born on March 24, 1973, in Houston, Texas. He grew up in Houston with his sister, Julie, as the children of a school teacher and the president of a plumbing supply company. Parsons showed an interest in performing at an early age, beginning with studying the piano in kindergarten. A budding actor nearly from the start, he eventually developed his own scripts and staged productions at home.
At Klein Oak High School, Parsons stood out in school productions. After attending the University of Houston, Parsons continued to study his craft at the University of San Diego, in its graduate program with the Old Globe theater, completing his master's degree in 2001.
Movies and TV Shows
'Judging Amy,' 'Garden State'
Parsons then moved to New York City, where he tried to launch his acting career. At first, he found himself struggling to find work, appearing in off-Broadway plays. He also landed a recurring role on the TV show Judging Amy and a bit part in the 2004 film Garden State.
Parsons managed to win over Chuck Lorre, the co-creator of The Big Bang Theory, in his audition for the new sitcom in 2006. Lorre told the Toronto Star that Parsons "nailed it from the moment he walked into the room. He nailed it so much, I had to ask him to come back and do it again, because I wasn't sure if he had simply gotten lucky."
'The Big Bang Theory'
In September 2007, Parsons made his first appearance as theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. He and co-star Johnny Galecki, Sheldon's roommate Leonard, had great comic chemistry from the start, playing friends and sometimes clashing scientists. The sitcom's ensemble cast also included Simon Helberg, who played engineer Howard Wolowitz, and Kunal Nayyar, who played astrophysicist Raj Koothrapalli. Kaley Cuoco rounded out the cast as their common sense neighbor and Leonard's love interest, Penny. Mayim Bialik joined the show later on, playing Sheldon's affection-starved significant other, as did Melissa Rauch, as Bernadette. Real-life scientists Bill Nye, Stephen Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson, among other guest stars, also made appearances on the series.
The Big Bang Theory grew to become TV's top-rated sitcom, thanks in part to Parsons' brilliant job of handling the difficult scientific and technical jargon used on the show. His compelling and convincing portrayal of a quirky boy genius had some fans wondering if Parsons boasted a similar IQ to his character's. "People always want to know if I'm as smart as Sheldon," Parsons explained to the Toronto Star. "It's sweet that they feel compelled to ask. But sadly, no."
Parsons received his first Emmy Award in 2010, for his work on The Big Bang Theory, beating out such established stars as Steve Carell and Alec Baldwin to win one of TV's top honors. His winning streak continued over the next few years, with him taking home three more Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series in 2011, 2013 and 2014.
The popularity of his quirky character led to the creation of the spinoff Young Sheldon in 2016, with Iain Armitage starring as the nine-year-old version of Sheldon in high school, and Parsons involved as the show's narrator.
In August 2018 it was announced that The Big Bang Theory would sign off the following May, after airing its 12th season finale. Entertainment Weekly reported that the show was ending largely due to the wishes of Parsons, who was looking to move on from playing Sheldon Cooper. The Big Bang Theory wrapped its long run with episode No. 279 on May 16, 2019.
'The Muppets,' 'Wish I Was Here'
During production breaks on his hit sitcom, Parsons pursued other creative opportunities. He surfaced as the human version of the puppet Walter in The Muppets (2011), and in 2014 he appeared in Zach Braff's dramatic comedy Wish I Was Here and lent his voice to the lovable alien Oh in the animated movie Home.
'Visions,' Hidden Figures,' 'A Kid Like Jake,' 'Extremely Wicked'
Following his role in the dark thriller Visions (2015), Parsons was among the cast of the Oscar-nominated biopic Hidden Figures (2016). He then co-starred with Claire Danes in the indie drama A Kid Like Jake (2018), as a parent adapting to having a transgender child.
'Extremely Wicked,' 'Hollywood'
In 2019 Parsons portrayed a prosecuting attorney in the Ted Bundy biopic Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. The following year he delivered a well-received turn in the Netflix miniseries Hollywood as Henry Willson, an agent with mafia ties who helped launch the screen careers of closeted gay stars like Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter.
'The Normal Heart'
Parsons has appeared on Broadway several times, including in a 2011 revival of Larry Kramer's AIDS drama, The Normal Heart. A gay man, Parsons found working on the play to be especially appealing. Not long after performing in the theater production, Parsons was cast alongside Julia Roberts, Matt Bomer and Mark Ruffalo in the TV adaptation of The Normal Heart.
'An Act of God,' 'The Boys in the Band'
In 2015 Parsons returned to the Great White Way in the comedic play An Act of God, starring as the titular Creator. In 2018 he joined another celebrated Broadway production with the role of Michael in The Boys in the Band, a revival of the groundbreaking 1968 play about the lives of gay men. In April 2019 it was announced that Parsons and the rest of the Broadway cast would join a Netflix adaptation of the play.
Parsons received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2015. He began hosting his own show, Jim Parsons Is Too Stupid for Politics, on SiriusXM in 2017.
Personal Life and Husband
For more than a decade, Parsons has been in a relationship with graphic designer Todd Spiewak. In speaking about their life together, Parsons said in 2013, "I've never considered myself an activist. I've never considered my relationship with Todd to be an act of activism. Rather simply, it's an act of love, coffee in the morning, going to work, washing the clothes, taking the dogs [out] — a regular life, boring love.”
Parsons and Spiewak married on May 13, 2017, at the Rainbow Room in New York City.
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