Jim Parsons

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Jim Parsons

Parsons at Comic Con in 2009
Born James Joseph Parsons
(1973-03-24) March 24, 1973 (age 39)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Alma mater University of Houston (BA)
University of San Diego (MA)
Occupation Actor
Years active 1994–present

James Joseph "Jim" Parsons (born March 24, 1973) is an American television and film actor. He is best known for playing Sheldon Cooper on the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, with his performance often cited as a significant reason for the program's success.[1][2][3] He has received several awards for his performance, including the Television Critics Association award for the highest individual achievements in comedy,[4] the National Association of Broadcasters Television Chairman's Award for a significant breakthrough in a specific art discipline,[5] two consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series[6] and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy.



Early and personal life

Parsons was born and raised in Houston, Texas, the older of two children.[7] After playing the role of the Kola-Kola bird in a school production of The Elephant's Child at age six, Parsons was determined to become an actor.[7][8] The young Parsons was heavily influenced by sitcoms, particularly Three's Company, Family Ties, and The Cosby Show.[9] He attended Klein Oak High School in Spring, Texas, a northern suburb of Houston. Parsons points to a role in Noises Off during his junior year as the first time "I fully connected with the role I was playing and started to truly understand what it meant to be honest on stage."[7]

After graduating from high school, Parsons received an undergraduate degree from the University of Houston. He was prolific during this time, appearing in 17 plays in 3 years. He was a founding member of Infernal Bridegroom Productions, and regularly appeared at the Stages Repertory Theatre.[10] Parsons enrolled in graduate school at the University of San Diego in 1999.[10] He was one of seven students accepted into a special two-year course in classical theater, taught in partnership with the Old Globe Theater. Program director Rick Seer recalled having reservations about admitting Parsons, saying, "Jim is a very specific personality. He's thoroughly original, which is one reason he's been so successful. But we worried, 'Does that adapt itself to classical theater, does that adapt itself to the kind of training that we're doing?' But we decided that he was so talented that we would give him a try and see how it worked out."[11] Parsons enjoyed school, and told an interviewer that he would have pursued a doctorate in acting if possible: "school was so safe!...you frequently would surprise yourself by what you were capable of, and you were not surprised by some things."[12] Parsons graduated in 2001[11] and moved to New York.[10]

Parsons lives in Los Angeles.[13] In May 2012, The New York Times reported that Parsons was gay and had been in a relationship for the last ten years.[14]


In New York, Parsons worked in Off-Broadway productions and made several television appearances. In a much-discussed 2003 Quiznos commercial, Parsons played a man who had been raised by wolves and continued to nurse from his wolf "mother".[10] He had a recurring role on the television show Judging Amy[15] and appeared on the television series Ed.[10] Parsons also had minor roles in several movies, including Garden State and School for Scoundrels.[16]

Parsons has estimated that he auditioned for between 15 and 30 television pilots, but on many of the occasions when he was cast, the show failed to find a television network willing to purchase it.[10] The exception came with The Big Bang Theory. After reading the pilot script, Parsons felt that the role of Sheldon Cooper would be a very good fit for him.[7] Although he did not feel any sort of relationship with the character, he was enchanted by the dialogue structure, the way the writers "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."[9]

In his audition, Parsons so impressed series creator Chuck Lorre that Lorre insisted on a second audition to see if Parsons could replicate the performance.[10] Parsons was cast as Sheldon Cooper, a genius physicist with nonexistent social skills who interacts with his other nerdy friends and the attractive waitress who lives across the hall.[10] The role requires Parsons to "rattle off line after line of tightly composed, rhythmic dialogue, and then do something with his face or body during the silence that follows."[10] Parsons credits his University of San Diego training with giving him the tools to break down Sheldon's lines.[7]

Television critic Andrew Dansby compares Parsons' physical comedy to that of Buster Keaton and other silent film stars. Lorre praises Parsons' instincts, saying that "You can't teach that."[10] Lorre describes Parsons' "great sense of control over every part of his body, the way he walks, holds his hands, cocks his head, the facial tics" as "inspired".[16] Reviewer Lewis Beale describes Parsons' performance as "so spot-on, it seems as if the character and the actor are the same person."[9] Parsons admits that the work is "more effort than I ever thought a sitcom would take. And that's really the fun of it."[9]

In August 2009, Parsons won the Television Critics Association award for individual achievement in comedy, beating Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, Steve Carrell, and Neil Patrick Harris.[9][17] He was nominated for Emmy awards in 2009 and 2010, winning in 2010 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.[18] In September 2010, Parsons and costars Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco signed new contracts, guaranteeing each of them $200,000 per episode for the fourth season of The Big Bang Theory, with substantial raises for each of the next three seasons. The three were also promised a percentage of the show's earnings.[19] In January 2011, he won the Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Television Series – Comedy (the award was presented by co-star Cuoco).

In 2011, Parsons appeared with Jack Black, Owen Wilson, Steve Martin, and Rashida Jones in the comedy film The Big Year. It was released in October.[20] That same year, he appeared as the human alter ego of Walter, the newest Muppet introduced in The Muppets.[21]

On May 18, 2012, Parsons began appearing on Broadway as Elwood P. Dowd in a revival of Harvey.[22][23]

Stage appearances



Year Film Role Notes
2003 Happy End Casting assistant
2004 Garden State Tim
2005 The King's Inn Sidney
The Great New Wonderful Justin
Heights Oliver
2006 10 Items or Less Receptionist
School for Scoundrels Classmate
2007 On the Road with Judas Jimmy Pea
Gardener of Eden Spim
2011 The Big Year Crane
The Muppets Human Walter Cameo


Year Title Role Notes
2002 Ed Chet Episode: "The Road"
2003 Why Blitt? Mike TV Pilot
2004 Taste Kris TV Pilot
2004–2005 Judging Amy Rob Holbrook 7 episodes
2007–present The Big Bang Theory Sheldon Cooper
2009 Family Guy Sheldon Cooper Episode: "Business Guy"
2010 Glenn Martin, DDS Draven Episode: "Jackie's Get-Witch-Quick Scheme"
2011 The Super Hero Squad Show Nightmare Episode: "Blind Rage Knows No Color"
2011 iCarly Caleb[30] Episode: "iLost My Mind"
2011 Eureka Jeep/Carl (voice) Episode: "Do You See What I See"
2011 Pound Puppies Milton Feltwaddle (voice) 2 episodes: "Toyoshiko! Bark Friend Machine", "McLeish Unleashed"

Music videos

Year Title Role Notes
2010 "Up 2 You + Me" Featuring Jim Parsons (Music Video) Himself Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) Initiative
2011 "Man or Muppet" Human Walter Song/music video from the soundtrack for The Muppets (also partial vocals)

Awards and nominations

Result Category Award Show
2008 Nominated Best Actor in a Comedy Series EWwy Awards
2009 Nominated Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical Series Satellite Awards
Won Individual Achievement in Comedy TCA Awards
Nominated Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy Awards
2010 Nominated Best Actor in a Comedy or Musical Series Satellite Awards
Nominated Choice TV Actor: Comedy Teen Choice Award
Nominated Favorite TV Comedy Actor People's Choice Awards
Nominated Individual Achievement in Comedy TCA Awards
Won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy Awards
2011 Won Best Actor in a Comedy Series Critics' Choice Television Awards
Won Best Actor – Television Series: Musical or Comedy Golden Globe Awards
Won Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy Awards
Nominated Favorite TV Comedy Actor People's Choice Awards
Nominated Individual Achievement in Comedy TCA Awards
Nominated Outstanding Ensemble in a Comedy Series Screen Actors Guild Awards
2012 Won Best Actor in a Comedy Series Critics' Choice Television Awards
Nominated Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series Emmy Awards


  1. ^ Oswald, Brad. "The buzz: Jim Parsons as Sheldon". Winnipeg Free Press. http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/entertainment/the_tab/the_buzz-39481582.html. Retrieved February 13, 2009. 
  2. ^ Salem, Rob (January 24, 2009). "Nerd herd doing a bang-up job". The Toronto Star. http://www.thestar.com/Entertainment/Television/article/575764. Retrieved February 13, 2009. 
  3. ^ Gilbert, Matthew (February 8, 2009). "Gentle twists on reliable formulas keep viewers hooked". The Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/ae/tv/articles/2009/02/08/gentle_twists_on_reliable_formulas_keep_viewers_hooked/. Retrieved February 13, 2009. 
  4. ^ "TCA Awards hail 'True Blood' and (finally) 'Battlestar Galactica'". The Los Angeles Times. August 2, 2009. http://goldderby.latimes.com/awards_goldderby/2009/08/tca-awards-television-critics-association-news-.html. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  5. ^ "The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons to Receive 2010 NAB TV Chairman's Award". BusinessWire. February 8, 2010. http://www.businesswire.com/portal/site/home/permalink/?ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20100208006669&newsLang=en. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  6. ^ "61st Primetime Emmy Awards | Academy of Television Arts & Sciences". Emmys.tv. http://cdn.emmys.tv/awards/2009ptemmys/61stemmys_noms.php. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d e Cogan, Jennifer (September 8, 2010), "Klein Oak grad takes home Emmy", Klein Sun News, http://www.hcnonline.com/articles/2010/09/08/klein_sun/news/090810_parsons_kl2.txt 
  8. ^ Christie D'Zurilla (August 29, 2010). "Shocking Jim Parsons truths revealed after Emmy win". Los Angeles Times. http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/gossip/2010/08/emmys-jim-parsons.html. Retrieved July 17, 2011. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Beale, Lewis (January 18, 2010), "TELEVISION Fast chat with Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons: Houston native says he doesn't speak Klingon", Houston Chronicle, http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl?id=2010_4836155 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Dansby, Andrew (September 10, 2009), "Jim Parsons find smart comedy role", Houston Chronicle: Zest, p. 8, http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl?id=2009_4790601 
  11. ^ a b Martinez, Olivia (September 16, 2010), "Alum sparks big bang at the Emmys", The Vista, http://www.theusdvista.com/mobile/news/alum-sparks-big-bang-at-the-emmys-1.1602499, retrieved September 23, 2011 
  12. ^ "Comic Relief", Newsweek, September 11, 2009, http://www.newsweek.com/2009/09/11/comic-relief.html 
  13. ^ Getlen, Larry (April 27, 2009). "'Big Bang Theory' Nerd May Get The Girl". New York Post. http://www.nypost.com/p/entertainment/tv/item_wdQH8p7Q2HrdQ8qX3pGa2L. Retrieved February 27, 2010. 
  14. ^ Healy, Patrick (May 23, 2012). "Stalked by Shadows (and a Rabbit)". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/27/theater/jim-parsons-prepares-for-his-lead-role-in-harvey.html?pagewanted=3&_r=1&smid=fb-share&adxnnlx=1337795070-OqM3Ntiv2kIkzKeFelw8yg. Retrieved May 23, 2012. 
  15. ^ Moore, Frazier (May 24, 2010), "Jim Parsons finds 'Big Bang Theory' stimulating", Press of Atlantic City, http://www.pressofatlanticcity.com/life/article_c8dce031-d5b2-5db1-a0e9-de4df0e4893d.html 
  16. ^ a b Keveney, Bill (December 8, 2008), "Big Bang-up role for Jim Parsons", USAToday, http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2008-12-07-jim-parsons_N.htm 
  17. ^ Jakle, Jeannie (August 5, 2009), "Jim Parsons adjusts to his celebrity role: Big Bang star leaps from Klein Oak grad to TV popularity", Houston Chronicle: Star, p. 4, http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl?id=2009_4773419 
  18. ^ Vary, Adam B. (September 3, 2010), "Jim Parsons:The Things I Love Most", Entertainment Weekly, http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20418260,00.html 
  19. ^ Schwartz, Missy (September 15, 2010), "'The Big Bang Theory' cast gets a big, fat raise", Entertainment Weekly, http://news-briefs.ew.com/2010/09/15/the-big-bang-theory-cast-gets-a-big-fat-raise/ 
  20. ^ "The Big Year (2011)". MovieWeb. http://www.movieweb.com/movie/the-big-year. Retrieved July 4, 2011. 
  21. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (November 23, 2011). "The Muppets". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/movies/the-muppets,1165510/critic-review.html. Retrieved December 6, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Jim Parsons, Scott Ellis, and More Talk Harvey!". broadway world.com. May 14, 2012. http://broadwayworld.com/article/STAGE-TUBE-Jim-Parsons-Scott-Ellis-and-More-Talk-HARVEY-20120514. Retrieved May 23, 2012. 
  23. ^ Ng, Philiana (November 29, 2011). "Jim Parsons Plots Broadway Return With 'Harvey' Revival". Hollywood Reporter. http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/jim-parsons-harvey-revival-broadway-267082. Retrieved December 14, 2011. 
  24. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p "More About Jim". the Catastrophic Theatre. http://catastrophictheatre.com/page/more-about-jim. Retrieved July 4, 2011. 
  25. ^ "OLD GLOBE/USD ALUM JIM PARSONS WINS EMMY AWARD". http://theoldglobe.org/information/latestnews/latestnews_page4.aspx. Retrieved August 12, 2010. 
  26. ^ Isherwood, Charles (January 17, 2002). "The Castle". Variety. http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117916781. 
  27. ^ Oxman, Steven (May 20, 2002). "Tartuffe Theater Review". Variety. http://stage.variety.com/review/VE1117917809.html. 
  28. ^ Hirschhorn, Joel (September 22, 2004). "The Love of Three Oranges". Variety. http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117924978. 
  29. ^ Brantley, Ben (April 27, 2011). "‘The Normal Heart' on Broadway – Theater Review". The New York Times. http://theater.nytimes.com/2011/04/28/theater/reviews/the-normal-heart-on-broadway-theater-review.html. 
  30. ^ Dan Snierson (June 6, 2011). "Jim Parsons to guest star on 'iCarly'—EXCLUSIVE". Inside TV. http://insidetv.ew.com/2011/06/06/jim-parsons-icarly-big-bang-theory/. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 

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