Per­fect Hit­ting on the for­mula

Jim Par­sons plays a so­cially in­ept sci­ence nerd on The Big Bang The­ory. In real life he is any­thing but, writes Dar­ren Dev­lyn

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

HE’S the star of a global rat­ings hit and pock­ets a cool $250,000 for each 30-minute episode of his show. But it’s nei­ther fame nor for­tune that are the most en­joy­able by-prod­ucts of Jim Par­sons’ role in The Big Bang The­ory.

Par­sons, who has won two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for his scene-steal­ing por­trayal of neu­rotic nerd Shel­don Cooper, says he gets the big­gest kick from the im­pact his suc­cess has had on his mum, Judy, a first-grade teacher.

‘‘ It is the most glo­ri­ous byprod­uct of what’s gone on here,’’ Par­sons, 39, says.

‘‘ As an ac­tor the goal is to work and for 90 per cent of ac­tors, work does not nec­es­sar­ily lead to peo­ple know­ing who you are.

‘‘ It’s rare, a sit­u­a­tion like this. And when it (recog­ni­tion) started hap­pen­ing, it was (my mother’s) mini mo­ment of celebrity . . . Peo­ple can­not be­lieve she is re­ally Shel­don’s mother! And I know it’s lovely for her.

‘‘ She is much less shy than me. She is much more gre­gar­i­ous, much more of a peo­ple per­son. I think it’s a re­ally nice way for her to start con­ver­sa­tions. I’m just glad that some­thing I’mdo­ing has ac­ci­den­tally added joy to my mother’s life.’’

Par­sons is more solemn when talk turns to his dad, who was the pres­i­dent of a plumb­ing com­pany and an ar­dent sup­porter of his son’s artis­tic en­deav­ours un­til he was killed in a 2001 car ac­ci­dent.

Raised in Texas, an in­tro­verted Par­sons made his first stage ap­pear­ance in a school play at the age of six. It was Rud­yard Ki­pling’s The Elephant’s Child.

A love of per­form­ing was born and Par­sons even­tu­ally went on to study theatre at the Univer­sity of Hous­ton and won a place in a two-year Mas­ters course in clas­si­cal theatre. He grad­u­ated the year of his fa­ther’s death.

Asked if he has thoughts on how his fa­ther would feel about his suc­cess, Par­sons says: ‘‘ I do think about it, ac­tu­ally. I’d be a fool try­ing to guess what he would think of ev­ery­thing . . . I’m sure he’d be en­joy­ing it, at least as much as my mother.

‘‘ He was al­ways very sup­port­ive. She was cer­tainly the wor­rier of the two. Em­bark­ing upon this life, I know he was cer­tainly a big­ger pusher of want­ing me to try it and give it a and 30 TV pi­lots. When The Big Bang The­ory came up, Par­sons was cau­tiously op­ti­mistic.

Two and a Half Men was do­ing well at the time, but the gen­eral feel­ing in Hol­ly­wood was that the sit­com genre was on life sup­port.

Par­sons was cer­tain of just one thing — The Big Bang The­ory was a well writ­ten and ex­e­cuted piece of work.

‘‘ I was think­ing, ‘ This is good work be­ing done’. The prob­lem in bank­ing on that is there have been a lot of TV shows that were re­ally good, but didn’t catch on,’’ Par­sons says.

‘‘ As op­posed to be­ing a big hit out of the gate, it was slow and we as a group work­ing on the show had our foot­ing un­der us. We knew what we were do­ing and felt good about it by the time it started catch­ing on.’’

Some are se­duced by fame to the point where their ca­reers are de­railed and their pri­vate lives fall into dis­ar­ray. Par­sons, how­ever, seems to have taken huge pop­u­lar­ity in his stride. He likes par­ties, but is equally happy at home.

He’s one of the most recog­nis­able TV faces in the world, but in­sists his privacy is rarely in­vaded.

Some may have jumped to con­clu­sions about his pri­vate life when he thanked friend Todd Spiewak in one of his Emmy ac­cep­tance speeches.

Par­sons po­litely de­clines the op­por­tu­nity to talk in de­tail about his life away from work, but says: ‘‘ I don’t have any mar­riage plans or any­thing like that. I don’t re­ally have any­thing to talk about as far as all that goes.

‘‘ I have been re­ally for­tu­nate. Ex­tra­ne­ous sto­ries or more pry­ing sto­ries have been pretty min­i­mal with me.

‘‘ I feel I’ve al­ways been pretty fairly treated by the me­dia. It’s a lot harder for young women, any­one who’s ex­tremely pop­u­lar in movies. Snap­ping a picture of me is fine, but I don’t have the (pa­parazzi) chases that go on. I don’t have to deal with that.’’ go. I do won­der what it would be like for him now . . . I do know he’d be pleased.

‘‘ I still don’t know all the ways that af­fected me, but there’s no way it didn’t,’’ he says of los­ing his fa­ther.

‘‘ It changed the whole fam­ily dy­namic. When I went home af­ter that I still hadn’t grad­u­ated. I had a final project and they (univer­sity) told me, ‘ You don’t have to come back right away’. It was very in­ter­est­ing that I knew I had to go back and do that be­cause whether or not you could be of use at home I re­alised in the end I could only be of use to the fam­ily fully if I did what I needed to do and then went on.

‘‘ What’s funny is I then moved to New York and had a ter­ri­ble sense of di­rec­tion. My dad was very good at it and I un­der­stood the city and how to get around so quickly it bog­gled my mind. And, to this day, I think it had some­thing to do with (his death).’’

Be­fore strik­ing it rich with The Big Bang The­ory in 2007, Par­sons had a re­cur­ring role in Judg­ing Amy. He ap­peared in the se­ries Ed and had bit parts in movies Gar­den State and School for Scoundrels. He es­ti­mates he au­di­tioned for

be­tween 15 AD­DI­TIONAL RE­PORT­ING:

LUAINE LEE The Big Bang The­ory, Chan­nel 9, tonight, 7pm

Suc­cess: Jim Par­sons (above) with an Emmy he won for his work on The Big Bang The­ory.

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