Born March 24, 1973 in Houston, Texas, James Joseph Parsons began his acting career on the stage of the University of Houston, where he was a founding member of a theater troupe known as Infernal Bridegroom Productions. By the time he had earned his master's degree in Fine Arts at the University of San Diego, his list of theater credits was staggering — Endgame, What Happened Was, Guys and Dolls, and The Balcony are only a few he appeared in. Parsons toiled for a few years after moving to Hollywood, getting small parts in commercials (Fed Ex, Quiznos, Stride gum, etc.), TV shows (Judging Amy, Ed) movies (Garden State, School For Scoundrels), and three axed TV pilots for the FOX network.
Then, sometime in 2006, Parsons stumbled upon a character named Sheldon Cooper. Sheldon wasn't a resident of FOX — he was going to be a supporting character on a new CBS sitcom called The Big Bang Theory. He was supposedly a post-doc string theorist with an astronomical IQ and an ego to match. Parsons auditioned for the part — and so blew series creator Chuck Lorre away that he asked him back for a second audition to make sure it wasn't a fluke.
Today, Parsons has earned critical acclaim and four consecutive Best Comedy Actor Emmy nominations; he won for the second and the third time. He has also made fans on a global scale for his portrayal of Sheldon, and his performance has been praised as the main reason for The Big Bang Theory's success.
A few other things you should know about Jim Parsons:
- Played the same role in The Balcony that Leonard Nimoy played in the 1963 movie adaptation.
- Plays piano exceptionally and has a wonderful singing voice.
- Doesn't really consider himself a nerd. Theater geek, however, yes. He made his Broadway debut in April 2011 as self-proclaimed "Southern bitch" Tommy Boatwright in The Normal Heart (and repeated his performance in the 2014 HBO film version, to much acclaim).
This actor provides examples of:
- ...But I Play One on TV: Jim often gets asked if he is really as smart as Sheldon, or if he understands all the things Sheldon says. He's mentioned that he had tremendous difficulty memorizing Sheldon's rock-paper-scissors-lizard-Spock speech.
- The Cast Showoff: He can sing, play piano, do Tuvan throat singing and play the bongos.
- I Am Not Spock: Makes it clear in his SNL monologue song that he's not like Sheldon at all.
- Older Than They Look: He does not look forty-eight years old.
- "Sesame Street" Cred: He appeared in a "Word of the Day" segment in which he presented the word arachnid with a Muppet spider. Presumably did so for his nephew, about whom he speaks frequently and adorably.