James Joseph Parsons (born March 24, 1973) is an American actor and producer. Parsons is known for playing Sheldon Cooper in the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory (2007–2019). He has received several awards for his performance, including four Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Television Series Musical or Comedy. In 2018, Forbes estimated his annual salary to be $26.5 million and named him the world's highest-paid television actor.
Parsons in 2016
James Joseph Parsons
March 24, 1973
|Residence||Manhattan, New York City|
|Alma mater||University of Houston (BA)|
University of San Diego (MFA)
Todd Spiewak (m. 2017)
Parsons made his Broadway debut in 2011 portraying Tommy Boatwright in the play The Normal Heart, for which he shared a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance. He reprised the role in the film adaptation of the play, and received his seventh Emmy nomination, this time in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. In film, Parsons has voiced the lead character in Home (2015) and played supporting roles in Hidden Figures (2016) and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019).
Jim Parsons was born at St. Joseph Hospital in Houston, Texas, and was raised in one of its northern suburbs, Spring. He is the son of Milton Joseph "Mickey/Jack" Parsons, Jr. and teacher Judy Ann (née McKnight). His sister Julie Ann Parsons is also a teacher. 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. He attended Klein Oak High School in Spring. 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." The young Parsons was heavily influenced by sitcoms, particularly Three's Company, Family Ties, and The Cosby Show.
After graduating from high school, Parsons received a B.A. degree in Theater 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. Parsons enrolled in graduate school at the University of San Diego in 1999. 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." 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." Parsons graduated with obtaining a M.F.A. degree in Acting from Old Globe Theatre/University of San Diego in 2001 and moved to New York.
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. One of his ancestors was the French architect Louis-François Trouard (1729–1804).
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".[dead link] He had a recurring role on the television show Judging Amy and appeared on the television series Ed. Parsons also had minor roles in several movies, including Garden State and School for Scoundrels.
Breakthrough role in The Big Bang Theory
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. 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. 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."
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. Parsons was cast as Sheldon Cooper, a physicist with social apathy who frequently belittles his friends and the waitress who lives across the hall. The role requires Parsons to "rattle off line after line of tightly composed, rhythmic dialogue, as well as then do something with his face or body during the silence that follows." Parsons credits his University of San Diego training with giving him the tools to break down Sheldon's lines.
Television critic Andrew Dansby compares Parsons's physical comedy to that of Buster Keaton and other silent film stars. Lorre praises Parsons' instincts, saying that "You can't teach that." 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'." Reviewer Lewis Beale describes Parsons' performance as "so spot-on, it seems as if the character and the actor are the same person." Parsons admits that the work is "more effort than I ever thought a sitcom would take. And that's really the fun of it."
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. Parsons was nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series, winning in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014. In September 2010, Parsons and co-stars 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. In January 2011, Parsons won the Golden Globe award for Best Actor in a Television Series – Comedy (the award was presented by co-star Cuoco). From August 2013, Parsons, Cuoco and Galecki each earned $325,000 per episode. In August 2014, Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco once again signed new contracts, guaranteeing each of them $1,000,000 per episode for the eighth, ninth, and tenth seasons of The Big Bang Theory, as well as quadrupling their percentage of the show's earnings to over 1% each.
In August 2018, Parsons announced his refusal of a contract worth $50 million for seasons 13 and 14. The producers simultaneously announced that, after 279 episodes, the most of any multi-camera series in TV history, the show will come to an "epic, creative close" in May 2019. Parsons is expected to remain in his role as narrator of the prequel series, Young Sheldon.
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. That same year, he appeared as the human alter ego of Walter, the newest Muppet introduced in The Muppets. On May 18, 2012, Parsons began appearing on Broadway as Elwood P. Dowd in a revival of Harvey.
Parsons received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on March 11, 2015. He voiced Oh, one of the lead roles in the DreamWorks Animation comedy film Home (2015), alongside Rihanna. On January 29, 2015, it was announced that Parsons would star as God in the Broadway production of An Act of God, a new play by David Javerbaum and directed by Joe Mantello. The play began previews at Studio 54 on May 5, 2015 and closed August 2, 2015, to positive reviews.
In 2017, Parsons started hosting his own SiriusXM talk show, Jim Parsons Is Too Stupid for Politics. The show ran for six weeks.
His father died in a car crash on April 29, 2001.
On May 23, 2012, an article in The New York Times noted that Parsons is gay and had been in a relationship for the last ten years. His husband is art director Todd Spiewak. In October 2013, Parsons called their relationship "an act of love, coffee in the morning, going to work, washing the clothes, taking the dogs out—a regular life, boring love". Parsons and Spiewak wed in New York in May 2017.
|2003||Happy End||Casting Assistant|
|2005||The Great New Wonderful||Justin|
|2005||The King's Inn||Sidney||Short film|
|2006||10 Items or Less||Receptionist|
|2006||School for Scoundrels||Classmate|
|2007||On the Road with Judas||Jimmy Pea|
|2007||Gardener of Eden||Spim|
|2011||The Big Year||Crane|
|2011||The Muppets||Human Walter||Cameo|
|2014||Wish I Was Here||Paul|
|2016||Hidden Figures||Paul Stafford|
|2018||A Kid Like Jake||Greg Wheeler||Also producer|
|2019||Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile||Larry Simpson|
|2020||The Boys in the Band||Michael||Post-production|
|2002||Ed||Chet||Episode: "The Road"|
|2004||Why Blitt?||Mike||Unsold Fox pilot|
|2004||Taste||Kris||Unsold CBS pilot|
|2004–2005||Judging Amy||Rob Holbrook||7 episodes|
|2007–2019||The Big Bang Theory||Sheldon Cooper||Main role|
|2009||Family Guy||Sheldon Cooper||Voice|
Episode: "Business Guy"
|2010||Glenn Martin, DDS||Draven||Voice|
Episode: "Jackie's Get-Witch-Quick Scheme"
|2011||The Super Hero Squad Show||Nightmare||Voice|
Episode: "Blind Rage Knows No Color"
|2011||Pound Puppies||Milton Feltwaddle||Voice|
|2011||iCarly||Caleb||Episode: "iLost My Mind"|
|2011||Eureka||Carl the Jeep||Voice|
Episode: "Do You See What I See"
Episode: "Joe's Revenge"
|2012||The High Fructose Adventures of Annoying Orange||Henry Applesauce||Voice|
Episode: "Generic Holiday Special"
|2012||Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil||Larry Wilder||Voice|
Episode: "Jock Wilder's Nature Camp"
|2013||Who Do You Think You Are?||Himself||Season 4, Episode 8|
|2014||Saturday Night Live||Host||Episode: "Jim Parsons/Beck"|
|2014||The Normal Heart||Tommy Boatwright||Television film|
|2014||Elf: Buddy's Musical Christmas||Buddy||Voice|
Episode: "SuperMansion: War on Christmas"
|2017||Michael Jackson's Halloween||Hay Man||Voice|
|2017–present||Young Sheldon||Adult Sheldon Cooper (voice)||Narrator; also executive producer|
|2010||Marvel Super Hero Squad: The Infinity Gauntlet||Nightmare (voice)|
|1993||The Balcony||Torturer (Arthur)|
|1994||Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead||Rosencrantz|
|1995||Endgame||Clov||Infernal Bridegroom Productions|
|1995||Marat/Sade||Steve||Infernal Bridegroom Productions|
|1996||Guys and Dolls||Rusty Charlie||Infernal Bridegroom Productions|
|1996||Eddie Goes to Poetry City||Eddie||New York Theatre|
|1996||Jack and the Future Is In Eggs||Jack|
|1996||Othello||Iago||Infernal Bridegroom Productions|
|1996||Suicide in B-flat||Infernal Bridegroom Productions|
|1996||Woyzeck||Doctor / Horse's Head||Infernal Bridegroom Productions|
|1997||The Cherry Orchard||Yasha||Infernal Bridegroom Productions|
|1997||Chili Queen||Buddy||Stages Repertory Theatre|
|1997||Camino Real||Baron||Infernal Bridegroom Productions|
|1997||Last Rites||Tiger Clean||Infernal Bridegroom Productions|
|1998||Threepenny Opera||MacHeath||Infernal Bridegroom Productions|
|1998||Below the Belt||Dobbitt|
|1998||In the Jungle of the Cities||J. Finnay||Infernal Bridegroom Productions|
|1998||Tamalalia 3: The Cocktail Party||Psychotic psychiatrist||Infernal Bridegroom Productions|
|1998||King Ubu is King||Tom, Mister Nice Guy||Infernal Bridegroom Productions|
|1998||The Pitchfork Disney||Presley Stray||Stages Repertory Theatre|
|1999||Marie and Bruce||Herb / Fred / Waiter||Infernal Bridegroom Productions|
|1999||Tamalalia 4: The Camp-Out||Ralf||Infernal Bridegroom Productions|
|2001||Da||Old Globe Theatre|
|2002||What Happened Was||Jackie||The Paradise Theatre|
|2001||The Castle||Jeremiah||Manhattan Ensemble Theatre|
|2002||Tartuffe||Valère||La Jolla Playhouse|
|2004||The Love for Three Oranges (Gozzi)||Prince Tartaglia||La Jolla Playhouse|
|2011||The Normal Heart||Tommy Boatwright||John Golden Theatre|
|2012||Harvey||Elwood Dowd||Studio 54|
|2015||An Act of God||God||Studio 54|
|2018||The Boys in the Band||Michael||Booth Theatre|
Awards and nominations
- "Monitor". Entertainment Weekly (1252): 30. March 29, 2013.
- Oswald, Brad. "The buzz: Jim Parsons as Sheldon". Winnipeg Free Press. Archived from the original on February 17, 2009. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
- Salem, Rob (January 24, 2009). "Nerd herd doing a bang-up job". The Toronto Star. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
- Gilbert, Matthew (February 8, 2009). "Gentle twists on reliable formulas keep viewers hooked". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
- "61st Primetime Emmy Awards | Academy of Television Arts & Sciences". Emmys.tv. Archived from the original on July 18, 2009. Retrieved January 30, 2010.
- "Highest-Paid TV Actors 2018". Forbes. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
- Cogan, Jennifer (September 8, 2010), "Klein Oak grad takes home Emmy", Klein Sun News[dead link]
- "Biography". Saintmarylancaster.org. March 24, 1974. Archived from the original on December 29, 2013. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
- "Who Do You Think You Are? TV episode; Sep 2013
- Christie D'Zurilla (August 29, 2010). "Shocking Jim Parsons truths revealed after Emmy win". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
- 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
- Dansby, Andrew (September 10, 2009), "Jim Parsons find smart comedy role", Houston Chronicle, p. Zest, p. 8
- Martinez, Olivia (September 16, 2010), "Alum sparks big bang at the Emmys", The Vista, archived from the original on July 17, 2011, retrieved September 23, 2011
- "Comic Relief", Newsweek, September 11, 2009
- Moore, Frazier (May 24, 2010), "Jim Parsons finds 'Big Bang Theory' stimulating", Press of Atlantic City
- Keveney, Bill (December 8, 2008), "Big Bang-up role for Jim Parsons", USAToday
- 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, p. Star, p. 4
- "Jim Parsons wins Emmy for Best Lead Actor in a Comedy". Vox. August 26, 2014.
- Schwartz, Missy (September 15, 2010), "'The Big Bang Theory' cast gets a big, fat raise", Entertainment Weekly
- Corinne Heller (January 16, 2011). "Jim Parsons wins Golden Globe for 'Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series - Comedy Or Musical'". OnTheRedCarpet.com. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
- "Order of Golden Globe Awards presentations - latimes.com". Latimesblogs.latimes.com. January 16, 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2013.
- Battaglio, Stephen; Schneider, Michael (August 26, 2013). "What They Earn". TV Guide. pp. 16 - 20.
- Nellie Andreeva (August 4, 2014). "'Big Bang Theory' Stars Sign New Deals Worth $1 Million Per Episode - Deadline". Deadline.
- Keveney, Bill (August 22, 2018). "'The Big Bang Theory' will end with Season 12 in May 2019: 'A true labor of love'". USA Today.
- Stolworthy, Jacob (August 24, 2018). "The Big Bang Theory ending after Jim Parsons 'turns down $50m' to return as Sheldon Cooper". Independent.
- "The Big Year (2011)". MovieWeb. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- O'Sullivan, Michael (November 23, 2011). "The Muppets". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
- "Jim Parsons, Scott Ellis, and More Talk Harvey!". broadway world.com. May 14, 2012. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
- Ng, Philiana (November 29, 2011). "Jim Parsons Plots Broadway Return With 'Harvey' Revival". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 14, 2011.
- Bentley, Jean (March 12, 2015). "Big Bang Theory Stars Support Jim Parsons Walk of Fame Ceremony: Pics - Us Weekly". Us Weekly. Wenner Media. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
- "Jim Parsons and Rihanna to Voice DreamWorks Animation's Happy Smekday!". June 20, 2012.
- Gordon Cox (January 29, 2015). "Jim Parsons Returns to Broadway in 'An Act of God' - Variety". Variety.
- Stefanie Cohen (January 29, 2015). "Jim Parsons of 'Big Bang Theory' to Star in 'An Act of God' on Broadway". WSJ.
- Isherwood, Charles (May 28, 2015). "The New York Times". Review: 'An Act of God' With Jim Parsons as an Almighty Comedian.
- "Jim Parsons to Host Political Radio Show on SiriusXM (Exclusive)". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
- Perkins, Dennis (March 19, 2018). "John Oliver hijacks homophobe Mike Pence's bunny book with a better one in A Day In The Life Of Marlon Bundo". AV Club. Retrieved March 19, 2018.
- "Jim Parsons weds Todd Spiewak in New York". Wonderwall via MSN. Archived from the original on May 18, 2017. Retrieved May 14, 2017.
- Moses, Claire (December 16, 2014). "Jim Parsons buys Gramercy Park penthouse for $2.8M". The Real Deal. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
- Getlen, Larry (April 27, 2009). "'Big Bang Theory' Nerd May Get The Girl". New York Post. Retrieved February 27, 2010.
- Healy, Patrick (May 23, 2012). "Stalked by Shadows (and a Rabbit)". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved May 23, 2012.
- Malkin, Marc (October 19, 2013). "Jim Parsons Opens Up For the First Time About Relationship With Longtime Boyfriend". E! Online.
- Johnson, Ted (October 7, 2016). "Clinton vs. Trump in Hollywood: Who's Giving". Variety. Retrieved January 27, 2019.
- "Who Do You Think You Are?". Ancestry.com. Retrieved August 15, 2013.
- "Chicago Tribune".
- "Michael Jackson animated Halloween special in the works - NME". July 12, 2017.
- "More About Jim". the Catastrophic Theatre. Archived from the original on September 21, 2011. Retrieved July 4, 2011.
- "OLD GLOBE/USD ALUM JIM PARSONS WINS EMMY AWARD". Archived from the original on March 6, 2011. Retrieved August 12, 2010.
- Isherwood, Charles (January 17, 2002). "The Castle". Variety.
- Oxman, Steven (May 20, 2002). "Tartuffe Theater Review". Variety. Archived from the original on July 20, 2012.
- Hirschhorn, Joel (September 22, 2004). "The Love of Three Oranges". Variety.
- Brantley, Ben (April 27, 2011). "'The Normal Heart' on Broadway– Theater Review". The New York Times.
- David Rooney. "David Javerbaum's 'An Act of God' to Strike Broadway - Hollywood Reporter". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Lefkowitz, Andy (November 1, 2017). "Matt Bomer, Zachary Quinto, Jim Parsons, Andrew Rannells & More to Lead The Boys in the Band on Broadway". Broadway.com. Retrieved November 1, 2017.
- Cox, Gordon (November 1, 2017). "Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto Lead Cast of Broadway 'Boys in the Band'". Variety. Retrieved November 1, 2017.
- "The Boys in the Band (2018)". Internet Broadway Database. November 1, 2017. Retrieved November 5, 2017.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Jim Parsons.|
- Jim Parsons on IMDb
- Jim Parsons at the Internet Broadway Database
- Jim Parsons at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Jim Parsons at AllMovie
- CBS Biography
- Movieline interviews Big Bang Theory's Jim Parsons On Learning Lines, Emmy Nods and Cast Ping Pong Deathmatches
- Fresh Air Interview: Jim Parsons On The Science Of Sheldon, 'Big Bang'