Seven days of TV viewing

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - DAR­REN DEV­LYN, AND LUAINE LEE

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 ( pic­tured), 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 grade- one teacher.

‘‘ It is the most glo­ri­ous by- prod­uct 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! 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’m do­ing 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. He 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.’’

Be­fore strik­ing it rich with The Big Bang The­ory in 2007, Par­sons had a re­cur­ring role in Judg­ing Amy.

He also ap­peared in the se­ries Ed and had bit parts in movies Gar­den State and School for Scoundrels.

He es­ti­mates he au­di­tioned for be­tween 15 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,’’ he 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.’’

THE BIG BANG THE­ORY, WIN, week­nights, 7pm

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