Jim Parsons

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Jim Parsons
Jim Parsons Comic Con.jpg
Parsons at Comic Con in 2009
BornJames Joseph Parsons
(1973-03-24) March 24, 1973 (age 40)[1]
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Houston (BA)
University of San Diego (MA)
Years active1994–present
Partner(s)Todd Spiewak (2002–present)
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Jim Parsons
Jim Parsons Comic Con.jpg
Parsons at Comic Con in 2009
BornJames Joseph Parsons
(1973-03-24) March 24, 1973 (age 40)[1]
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Houston (BA)
University of San Diego (MA)
Years active1994–present
Partner(s)Todd Spiewak (2002–present)

James Joseph "Jim" Parsons (born March 24, 1973) is an American 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.[2][3][4] He has received several awards for his performance, including the Television Critics Association award for the highest individual achievements in comedy,[5] the National Association of Broadcasters Television Chairman's Award for a significant breakthrough in a specific art discipline,[6] three Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series[7] 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, and one of its northern suburbs, Spring, the older of two children of Judy, a teacher, and Milton "Jack" Parsons.[8][9][10][11] 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.[8][12] The young Parsons was heavily influenced by sitcoms, particularly Three's Company, Family Ties, and The Cosby Show.[13] He attended Klein Oak High School in Spring, Texas, 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."[8]

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.[14] Parsons enrolled in graduate school at the University of San Diego in 1999.[14] 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."[15] 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."[16] Parsons graduated in 2001[15] and moved to New York.[14]

Parsons lives in Los Angeles.[17] In May 2012, a feature article in The New York Times noted that Parsons is gay and at the time had been in a relationship for the last ten years.[18] His partner is art director Todd Spiewak.[19][20] In November 2013 Parsons was named by Out Magazine as the Out100 Entertainer of the Year.[21]

Parsons traced his family's history on TLC's Who Do You Think You Are? in September 2013, and discovered French heritage from his father's side.[22]


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".[14] He had a recurring role on the television show Judging Amy[23] and appeared on the television series Ed.[14] Parsons also had minor roles in several movies, including Garden State (as a nerd-like character similar to Sheldon Cooper) and School for Scoundrels.[24]

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.[14] 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.[8] 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."[13]

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.[14] 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.[14] 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."[14] Parsons credits his University of San Diego training with giving him the tools to break down Sheldon's lines.[8]

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."[14] 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".[24] Reviewer Lewis Beale describes Parsons' performance as "so spot-on, it seems as if the character and the actor are the same person."[13] Parsons admits that the work is "more effort than I ever thought a sitcom would take. And that's really the fun of it."[13]

In August 2009, Parsons won the Television Critics Association award for individual achievement in comedy, beating Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey, Steve Carell, and Neil Patrick Harris.[13][25] Parsons was nominated for Emmy awards in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, winning in 2010, 2011 and 2013.[26] 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.[27] 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).[28][29] As of August 2013, Parsons, Cuoco and Galecki each earn $325,000 per episode.[30]

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.[31] That same year, he appeared as the human alter ego of Walter, the newest Muppet introduced in The Muppets.[32]

On May 18, 2012, Parsons began appearing on Broadway as Elwood P. Dowd in a revival of Harvey.[33][34]

Stage appearances


2003Happy EndCasting assistant
2004Garden StateTim
2005Great New Wonderful, TheThe Great New WonderfulJustin
2005King's Inn, TheThe King's InnSidneyShort film
200610 Items or LessReceptionist
2006School for ScoundrelsClassmate
2007On the Road with JudasJimmy Pea
2007Gardener of EdenSpim
2011Big Year, TheThe Big YearCrane
2011Muppets, TheThe MuppetsHuman WalterCameo appearance
2012Sunset StoriesPrince
2014HomeJ.Lo (voice)Filming
2014Wish I Was HereFilming
2002EdChetEpisode: "The Road"
2004Why Blitt?MikeUnsold Fox pilot
2004TasteKrisUnsold CBS pilot
2004–2005Judging AmyRob Holbrook7 episodes
2007–presentBig Bang Theory, TheThe Big Bang TheorySheldon CooperMain cast
2009Family GuySheldon Cooper (voice)Episode: "Business Guy"
2010Glenn Martin, DDSDraven (voice)Episode: "Jackie's Get-Witch-Quick Scheme"
2011Super Hero Squad Show, TheThe Super Hero Squad ShowNightmare (voice)Episode: "Blind Rage Knows No Color"
2011Pound PuppiesMilton Feltwaddle (voice)2 episodes
2011iCarlyCalebEpisode: "iLost My Mind"
2011EurekaCarl the Jeep (voice)Episode: "Do You See What I See"
2012Family GuyGay-jacker (voice)Episode: "Joe's Revenge"
2012High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange, TheThe High Fructose Adventures of Annoying OrangeHenry Applesauce (voice)Episode: "Generic Holiday Special"
2012Kick Buttowski: Suburban DaredevilLarry Wilder (voice)Episode: "Jock Wilder's Nature Camp"
2013Who Do You Think You Are?[41]Himself
2014The Normal HeartTommy BoatwrightTelevision film; filming
Music videos
2010"Up 2 You + Me"HimselfStand Up to Cancer (SU2C) initiative
2011"Man or Muppet"Human WalterSong/music video from the soundtrack to The Muppets (also partial vocals)

Awards and nominations

ResultCategoryAward Show
2008NominatedBest Actor in a Comedy SeriesEWwy Awards
2009NominatedBest Actor in a Comedy or Musical SeriesSatellite Awards
WonIndividual Achievement in ComedyTCA Awards
NominatedOutstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy SeriesEmmy Awards
2010NominatedBest Actor in a Comedy or Musical SeriesSatellite Awards
NominatedChoice TV Actor: ComedyTeen Choice Award
NominatedFavorite TV Comedy ActorPeople's Choice Awards
NominatedIndividual Achievement in ComedyTCA Awards
WonOutstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy SeriesEmmy Awards
2011WonBest Actor in a Comedy SeriesCritics' Choice Television Awards
WonBest Actor – Television Series: Musical or ComedyGolden Globe Awards
WonOutstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy SeriesEmmy Awards
NominatedFavorite TV Comedy ActorPeople's Choice Awards
NominatedIndividual Achievement in ComedyTCA Awards
NominatedOutstanding Ensemble in a Comedy SeriesScreen Actors Guild Awards
2012WonBest Actor in a Comedy SeriesCritics' Choice Television Awards
NominatedOutstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy SeriesEmmy Awards
2013NominatedBest Actor – Television Series: Musical or ComedyGolden Globe Awards
NominatedBest Actor in a Comedy SeriesCritics' Choice Television Awards
WonOutstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy SeriesEmmy Awards


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  2. ^ Oswald, Brad. "The buzz: Jim Parsons as Sheldon". Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved February 13, 2009. 
  3. ^ Salem, Rob (January 24, 2009). "Nerd herd doing a bang-up job". The Toronto Star. Retrieved February 13, 2009. 
  4. ^ Gilbert, Matthew (February 8, 2009). "Gentle twists on reliable formulas keep viewers hooked". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 13, 2009. 
  5. ^ "TCA Awards hail 'True Blood' and (finally) 'Battlestar Galactica'". The Los Angeles Times. August 2, 2009. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  6. ^ "The Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons to Receive 2010 NAB TV Chairman's Award". BusinessWire. February 8, 2010. Retrieved May 6, 2010. 
  7. ^ "61st Primetime Emmy Awards | Academy of Television Arts & Sciences". Emmys.tv. Retrieved January 30, 2010. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Cogan, Jennifer (September 8, 2010), "Klein Oak grad takes home Emmy", Klein Sun News 
  9. ^ "Biography". Saintmarylancaster.org. 1974-03-24. Retrieved 2013-08-23. 
  10. ^ "Jim Parsons' High School Past: Was He a Nerd?". Etonline.com. 2011-02-16. Retrieved 2013-08-23. 
  11. ^ "Who Do You Think You Are? TV episode; Sep 2013
  12. ^ Christie D'Zurilla (August 29, 2010). "Shocking Jim Parsons truths revealed after Emmy win". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 17, 2011. 
  13. ^ 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 
  14. ^ 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 
  15. ^ a b Martinez, Olivia (September 16, 2010), "Alum sparks big bang at the Emmys", The Vista, retrieved September 23, 2011 
  16. ^ "Comic Relief", Newsweek, September 11, 2009 
  17. ^ Getlen, Larry (April 27, 2009). "'Big Bang Theory' Nerd May Get The Girl". New York Post. Retrieved February 27, 2010. 
  18. ^ Healy, Patrick (May 23, 2012). "Stalked by Shadows (and a Rabbit)". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Retrieved May 23, 2012. 
  19. ^ "Jim Parsons Comes Out As Gay: 'Big Bang Theory' Star's Sexuality Officially Revealed In New York Times". Huffington Post. May 23, 2012. Retrieved September 22, 2013. 
  20. ^ Webber, Stephanie (October 19, 2013). "Jim Parsons, Big Bang Theory Actor, Opens Up About Boyfriend Todd Spiewak: It's An Act of Love, Not Activism". Us Weekly. Retrieved October 19, 2013. 
  21. ^ "Out100: Jim Parsons". Out. November 13, 2013. 
  22. ^ Maggie Furlong (September 10, 2013). "Jim Parsons On 'Who Do You Think You Are?': 'The Big Bang Theory' Star Traces His Family Tree". Huffington Post. Retrieved September 17, 2013. 
  23. ^ Moore, Frazier (May 24, 2010), "Jim Parsons finds 'Big Bang Theory' stimulating", Press of Atlantic City 
  24. ^ a b Keveney, Bill (December 8, 2008), "Big Bang-up role for Jim Parsons", USAToday 
  25. ^ 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 
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  28. ^ Corinne Heller (2011-01-16). "Jim Parsons wins Golden Globe for 'Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Comedy Or Musical'". OnTheRedCarpet.com. Retrieved 2013-08-23. 
  29. ^ "Order of Golden Globe Awards presentations - latimes.com". Latimesblogs.latimes.com. 2011-01-16. Retrieved 2013-08-23. 
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  39. ^ Hirschhorn, Joel (September 22, 2004). "The Love of Three Oranges". Variety. 
  40. ^ Brantley, Ben (April 27, 2011). "‘The Normal Heart' on Broadway – Theater Review". The New York Times. 
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External links