Posted by Kathy Lyford
Here are the answers to your questions for “The Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons, who plays neurotic genius Sheldon Cooper on the CBS comedy, which is one of my favorite shows and one of the few comedies that qualifies as appointment TV for me.
For this Q&A we’re trying a little something different: All your questions were answered via video. It seems actors aren’t as camera shy as showrunners.
Many of you were curious about how much Jim has in common with Sheldon. Well, the answer is not much. Let’s see. They look alike. They sound the same, right down to the Texas twang. They’re both adorable. They’re both smart, but in different ways. They both excel in their chosen professions.
The differences are more profound. Jim dresses better. (Although if you dig Sheldon’s wardrobe, visit this fan site devoted to his t-shirts). Sheldon is socially awkward to the point of ineptitude. Jim is personable, charming, outgoing and witty. Sheldon is seemingly interested only in science, video games and comic books. Jim's hobbies don't include any of those. And while I would never pretend to know about his interests after a two-hour meeting, I can tell you that Jim and I chatted before and after the interview about many topics of interest to both of us: Theater, the state of the economy, the recent election, L.A. real estate, ping-pong (he plays; there's even a "BBT" cast and crew tournament), poker (I try to play), crosswords, blogs and chatrooms, documentaries, the changing television business, critics, movies, restaurants and “Friday Night Lights” (I can bring that series up in any conversation. I’ve now proved it.)
Jim made my job very easy. He not only answered the questions he read them too (sometimes with comments directed toward the person asking). So I got to just sit there and enjoy his delightful company and giggle. Of course, I did have to edit and upload the videos — hence the slight delay. Turns out I’m more of a Penny than a Sheldon when it comes to technology.
Before we start the questions, here’s a short thank you from Jim for all of you who participated plus a special announcement about which one of you won the autographed season one DVD set.
Jim saw almost all of your questions and you are seeing his answers pretty much in full. I only edited out a few moments, like when the server brought us wine that we didn’t order and when we were distracted by the skateboarder who fell on the sidewalk outside the window next to where we were seated. I did break them down into shorter segments so you can more easily find the answers to questions that most interest you or view the Q&A in parts and come back for more later.
Jim grew up in Texas and did a lot of theater as a youngster. He credits that experience as great training for filming in front of a live audience. On that note, we’ll start with a question from Jim’s high school drama teacher, whom he was very surprised and pleased to hear from.
Q. Jim, you were one of the best and brightest students we had at Klein Oak. Am getting the thrill of my old age seeing you on “The Big Bang Theory.” Great show! Keep up the good work. Will you be inviting any of your old drama teachers to see the show? :-) I’ll never forget you and your sister in “Wait Until Dark.” — Brownie High MacKie
Q. Hey, Jim, first of all, I just would like to say I think you make an amazing job with Sheldon. Now, the question, what’s your favorite character on the show? And what’s your favorite thing about Sheldon? — Anita
Q. Tell us about the audition process for the show. How many auditions did you have to go through? — Kat
Q. I really enjoy the show — the smart writing and the excellent performances. If you were told that the show was going to end and they wanted your input, how would you like to see the show finish? — Trevor
Q. You put so much physical stuff into your acting — ticks, movements, gestures, rubbery face and limbs. Is that something that has been a trademark of yours, or something honed for the Sheldon character specifically? — Cynthia
Q. What aspects of Sheldon’s character are the closest to yours? — Caitlan
Q. What kind of comedy did you thrive on growing up? Were there any personal influences or TV Shows that shaped your awesome comedic talent? — Mikey
Q. Your comedic acting is great and seemingly effortless. When you perform Sheldon, to what extent do you rely on free-flow & intuition, and to what extent do you plan the details of your performance? Follow-up question: now that the character has become so popular, are you making any conscious decisions to diminish/maintain/augment any of Sheldon’s quirky traits? — Tony
Q. Tell us about your background. How’d you get started? Anyone in your family an actor? — Cynthia
Q. From playing Sheldon (with all of his neurotic “quarks” ha ha), is it funny when you see aspects of Sheldon in other people? — Daria
Q. Jim, Sheldon is one of my favorite comedic characters in all of TV! I understand that you only know what the writers tell you about your character, so if you don’t know for sure, would you just guess at an answer: Has Sheldon had any romantic experiences? Do you think he ever thinks about having a girlfriend or ever wants one at all? Or does he consider himself above all that? Thanks for considering my question. — Stephanie
Q. Do you have any favorite funny moments of the show (or behind scenes) that you can’t help but to smile or laugh every time you think back to it. — Brian
Q. It seems that almost all TV characters “evolve” as time goes on, and in some cases, become very different characters then what they were in the first episodes. How do you see your character changing so far, and how do you imagine he may evolve in the future? — Brian
Q. Is Sheldon a character you have made up yourself or are there elements of people you know incorporated in his character? — Petra
Q. After doing an entire season so far, have you come across any fans who have crushes on your character and in turn have crushes on you because of who you play? — Steph
Q. I love the episodes in which Penny became addicted to “Age Of Conan,” and the one in which she wrecks the guys in “Halo.” Do you play any online MMORPGs (Massively multi player online role playing game) or video games in general? — Emodius
The following is a combo of questions asked by Catilan, Michael, Lucas, Dominik and Pheobe, all having to do with the science on the show or Jim’s interest in science.
Q. Is it hard to memorize the science terms and what has been the hardest one for you to learn to say? Have you ever tried to learn more about the science mentioned on the show? Do you like science/math in real life? Would you believe in the String Theory or Loop Quantum Gravity?
Q. Did you get your assistant position at Microsoft Sidewalk due to some interest or education in computer science or other science? What was your undergraduate education? — Elisabeth
Q. I imagine that every new table read is a real blast for everyone involved. What would you say about the group dynamics, the group atmosphere, and/or the personalities involved? Do you pitch many jokes/ideas ? Are there any that you’re particularly proud of? — Tony
Q. Jim, I am a special education teacher in Ohio and I wanted to know if your character was or will be identified as having Asperger’s Syndrome or is autistic? I can see elements of both. Regardless, I have never laughed out loud as I have with “BBT.” As in regards to superheroes on the show, do you ever mention Marvel or is Sheldon a DC guy only. Spider-Man was a science guy too. — Paul
Q. What has been the hardest Sheldon one-liner to say with a straight face? How many tries/times did it take to get through it on set? — Caitlan H.
Q. Jim, Is it true that you were the FEDEX robot in the film “I, ROBOT” ? — Paulo Gorris
Q. Do you like working with half of the Roseanne cast? — Daria
I did not ask him any of the forward personal questions posed. This space is not about that. But I did allow this semi-personal one:
Q. What is your favorite food? :) — Jakub Kucmas
Q. Will Penny and Sheldon hook up on the show? — David
NOTE: I did not ask Jim the question about whether he expected an Emmy nomination — partly because the Emmys were two months ago and the nominations for the current season won't be announced until July and partly because that's just an awkward question to ask an actor, or anyone. But in the course of our conversation I did tell him we were a little peeved here at Variety when he wasn't nominated. He responded by saying that was nice of us, that he certainly hadn't expected a nomination but that it would have been fun.
The following questions/comments are being saved for the Q&A we’re doing with “The Big Bang Theory” co-creator Bill Prady. They are more suited to the writer than the actor. I’ll also ask Bill if Penny and Sheldon will ever hook up.
Q. Are Sheldon and Leonard named after the brilliant Sheldon Leonard of "The Andy Griffith Show," "The Danny Thomas Show," "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "My Favorite Martian," "I Spy?" — binnie hedge
Q. In regards to Sheldon, do you think there is a romantic connection with Penny? or will there ever be a connection with Penny? — Mega
Q. Will there be a resolution with the situation with “The Nemesis”, Leslie? It bothers me a bit that she seems to often get the better of Sheldon. — Emodius
Q. Has there been any thought of possibly stretching out a storyline over the course of multiple episodes? The Sheldon worshiper story was very clever but it was wrapped up way too quickly; I would’ve loved to see it continue for a few weeks. — Anthony
Jim Bill, I’m from Czech republic. Even though in “Big Bang” was reference about “Czechoslovakia” I do hope you know that we aren’t Czechoslovakia no more. But only Czech republic. ;-) Have a nice life! I like you. Bye Veronika
Disclaimer: I asked for a quiet table but we ended up close to the kitchen, which explains the background noise. And right outside the window was a bus stop so when buses came by the screen got a little dark. And I didn’t frame the shot very well. Despite all that, I hope you enjoyed the videos anyway.