- Full Name: James Joseph Parsons
- Nickname: Jimmy Pea
- Birthdate: March 24, 1973
- Birthplace: Houston, Texas
- Height: 6′ 2″ (1.88 m)
James Joseph “Jim” Parsons (born March 24, 1973) is an American television and film 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.
Early and personal life
Parsons was born and raised in Houston, Texas, the older of two children. 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. The young Parsons was heavily influenced by sitcoms, particularly Three’s Company, Family Ties, and The Cosby Show. He attended Klein Oak High School in Spring, Texas, a northern suburb of Houston. 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.”
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. 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 in 2001 and moved to New York.
Parsons lives in Los Angeles. In May 2012, The New York Times reported that Parsons was gay and in a relationship for the last ten years.
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.
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 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.