Here is new interview with Jim Parsons, well it isn’t really interview but… I put quotes in green, but you can also read what others sad about working with Jim. It may be interesting to say that in this one he reveals that he’s gay. But that was already known and now is official :). Except that it is really good because he is talking about Harvey, Normal hart, his childhood and of course Big Bang Theory.
Stalked by Shadows (and a Rabbit)
AFTER seeing the “The Normal Heart” on Broadway last June, three teenagers from Minnesota were in a frenzy explaining why they had chosen the play. “Sheldon!” they all shouted, naming the socially clueless lead character on the CBS hit comedy “The Big Bang Theory” played by Jim Parsons, who had a small role in the play.
Here was celebrity casting in action, yet it had unintended consequences: the teenagers hadn’t known that the show was about gay men dying of AIDS, and they left disappointed that Mr. Parsons wasn’t acting as outrageously pompous as Sheldon, a role that earned him Emmy Awards in 2010 and 2011.
Mr. Parsons is back on Broadway during another summer hiatus from television, and this time he faces audience expectations that are even more complicated.
Not only is he dealing with the shadow of Sheldon again, but also that of a certain actor named Jimmy Stewart. Mr. Parsons is leading a Broadway cast for the first time, in a revival of “Harvey,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy from 1944 about the sweet-natured Elwood P. Dowd and his invisible friend, the title character, a 6-foot-tall rabbit. The show ran on Broadway for four years, opening with Frank Fay as the lead. Stewart later followed as Elwood before bringing him to wider fame in the 1950 film, for which he was nominated for an Oscar. He reprised the role in 1970, the only previous revival on Broadway of this play, which became feared for the task of taking on The Jimmy Stewart Role.
While Mr. Parsons is keenly aware that both Sheldon and Stewart are indelible, he has also drawn confidence from acting techniques and instincts that have served him well for more than 20 years, since choosing his career after performing in the farce “Noises Off” in high school.
“People may not like me as Elwood, people may say ‘I enjoyed Jimmy Stewart more,’ ” he said recently, over coffee at a Midtown Mahattan hotel. “There’s nothing I can do about that. But I have to come in and take a stand on the performance, as it were.”
He memorizes his dialogue well beforehand, writing out lines on white 3-by-5 index cards (he has 200 for “Harvey”). He creates precise physical worlds for his characters, down to where they would place a hat or coat or, in the case of Harvey, where the rabbit would be at every second. He obsesses over body language too: the angular, ungainly stride he created for Sheldon, and the alternately swift and halting paces of Elwood.
And he still has never seen the Stewart film or any stage production of “Harvey.”
“I try to master every facet of a character in order to build a safety net for myself, so I can go on to take more risks to create someone really distinct,” said Mr. Parsons, who is 39, roughly the same age as Stewart when he first played Elwood on Broadway.“One of my very early teachers said over and over again: ‘What are you bringing to the party?’ That expression never left me.
“Well, what about it? What am I bringing to this party?”
“If I’m not making a choice with each and every line,” he continued, “then why are you bothering watching me?”
Mr. Parsons hastened to add that he was not disrespecting Stewart, nor was he cavalier about audience reactions. He is the sort of person, in fact, you could imagine taking his bow then apologizing to theatergoers if any of them were disappointed with his work. His unfailing politeness has an old-fashioned courtliness to it; at a rehearsal for “Harvey” this month, he said sorry every time he had to ask the script prompter to remind him of a line.
It sounded almost automatic, reflecting a tendency to speak his mind without a trace of self-consciousness (a habit that makes his television character so winningly exasperating). At one point during the rehearsal, for instance, the actress Jessica Hecht — who plays Elwood’s sister, Veta — put a prop down on stage in a spot where Mr. Parsons wasn’t expecting it.
“Did Jessica leave that there?” Mr. Parsons said. “That’s never going to work.”
“It won’t happen again,” Ms. Hecht replied collegially.
“It never happened before,” he said — not in an accusatory way but, like Sheldon, with an almost absent-minded bluntness.
“Um, let’s talk about it more,” she joked.
Later, Ms. Hecht described the way Mr. Parsons speaks as a kind of afterthought.
“His concentration is so total that he sometimes says surprising things that I don’t even think he’s aware he’s saying,” said Ms. Hecht, a Tony nominee for her last Broadway role, in the 2010 revival of “A View from the Bridge.” “There’s something so dorky in the best way about him.”
Growing up in Houston, the son of an elementary-school teacher and a plumbing company president, Mr. Parsons was a theater nerd from the start; he recalled throwing himself into the role of the Kola-Kola bird in his first-grade production of “The Elephant’s Child” by Kipling. His curiosity about performance grew from watching the physical antics and reaction shots in the television sitcom “Three’s Company.”
“There was a kind of musicality to the actors’ timing and rhythms that I really responded to,” said Mr. Parsons, who also played piano as a boy.
A turning point came in junior year of high school, when Mr. Parsons was mulling the idea of becoming a meteorologist (Gulf Coast weather had led to a fascination with hurricanes). Thanks to his drama teacher and a fellow student, he was persuaded to take the role of Frederick Fellowes, a nosebleed-prone actor who beats himself up when things go amiss, in the farce “Noises Off.” But as the show moved toward opening night, he became concerned that he and his castmates weren’t in fine enough form.
“All we had was each other, and our very basic mastery of the play, but at our first performance we pulled together and relied on each other and everything clicked,” he said. “We didn’t mug for laughs, we didn’t do anything showy — we just worked together as an ensemble. I felt totally comfortable in this warped world that was far away from the real world. And I wanted to keep doing it.”
Mr. Parsons went on to perform more than two dozen plays during and after his undergraduate years at the University of Houston; he was so busy that he failed a course in meteorology, putting an end to that career path. He did 17 plays in three years with an experimental theater company, Infernal Bridegroom Productions. He was the exploitative doctor in Büchner’s “Woyzeck” in a parking lot, and the servant Clov in Beckett’s “Endgame” and the gambler Rusty Charlie in “Guys & Dolls,” both performed in warehouses.
After graduation he pursued classical training in the master’s program at the University of San Diego, then spent several years in New York working Off Broadway and in guest appearances on television while making trips to Los Angeles looking for work.
When he received the pilot script for “The Big Bang Theory,” he said, the show — about a group of genius-level scientists with terrible social skills — seemed clever enough to him, but the role of Sheldon felt like a great fit.
“There was something in his inability to understand sarcasm, his inability to read emotions off people in a general sense, that I understood,” Mr. Parsons said with a crooked smile. (For the record, in person he is far more at ease and a much better listener than Sheldon.)
Chuck Lorre, one of the creators and producers of “Big Bang,” said Mr. Parsons’s audition was so “brilliant” that he asked the actor to return another day to make sure the performance wasn’t a fluke.
“He physically embodied a character who was like none we had seen before — the peculiar rhythms of the words, the way he held his body,” Mr. Lorre said. “He was uncanny in the choices he was making second to second.”
(Mr. Parsons is set to return to “Big Bang” in August; “Harvey” opens on June 14.)
By the winter of 2011 Mr. Parsons had won his first Emmy for “Big Bang” and was midway through Season 4 when he felt he was “spinning my wheels” as an actor, and began looking to do a play again. He landed the role of Tommy Boatwright, a young gay activist in “The Normal Heart” who bucks up the main characters in their fight against AIDS. The humanity and intensity of the play appealed to him, he said, just as Beckett and Büchner once did; in graduate school, too, his thesis project was a 15-minute performance piece about a mentally disabled death-row inmate, a psychiatrist and a murder victim’s father — all played by Mr. Parsons.
“If I ever wrote a script myself, it would be strongly emotional material,” he said. “Every time I think about writing, comedy doesn’t interest me in the slightest. I can play comedy, but I don’t think in terms of comic dialogue.”
“The Normal Heart” resonated with him on a few levels: Mr. Parsons is gay and in a 10-year relationship, and working with an ensemble again onstage was like nourishment, he said. As the production was ending last summer, he heard that theRoundabout Theater Company was considering a revival of “Harvey” — initially with John C. Reilly under consideration for Elwood — and last November the play’s director, Scott Ellis, asked him and Ms. Hecht to do a private reading of the work in Los Angeles.
“Jim was solid in ‘The Normal Heart,’ ” Mr. Ellis said, “but his character didn’t really change in the journey of that play, so I wanted to see if Jim could take on a challenge and float a couple of feet off the ground, so to speak, in that magical way Elwood has. And in the reading he was just smart, smart, smart.”
In rehearsals Mr. Parsons focused particularly on his relationship with Harvey — a character who is not there. He chose spots in the Studio 54 theater to fix his gaze, at the exact height where Harvey’s face would be, and developed a series of hand gestures when Elwood was speaking to or making way for the rabbit. If the show has plenty of the laugh lines that Mr. Parsons finds familiar from television, he said he was more aware of the differences between Elwood and Sheldon — and was savoring them.
“Elwood has such warmth, and wants nothing more than to connect with other people, whereas my nine-month-a-year job is a character who says things like, ‘If you don’t mind, I’d like to stop listening to you and talk now,’ ” Mr. Parsons said. “The jump-out-of-bed happiness I feel transcends any nerves about taking on a history-laden role.
“Now, would it have been preferable to take on a role that had not been created before? God yes. But breaking in a new role takes more time than I’ll have until my time on TV comes to an end. And when it does, I hope I’ll be back for longer.”