Jim Parsons had a handful of guest-starring roles under his belt when he landed a co-lead in “The Big Bang Theory” pilot back in 2006. But what seemed to be his big break was put on hold when CBS decided to redevelop the pilot — which is usually code for recasting. That wasn’t the case for Parsons or co-star Johnny Galecki, though.
Now, as “Big Bang” heads into its fourth season as the second most-watched laffer in primetime and having landed a record-setting off-net payday, Parsons’ win for lead comedy actor caps a Cinderella career trajectory for the young man from Houston and sets the scene for “Big Bang’s” move to Thursday nights this fall.
Parsons grew up in community theater, then attended grad school at the U. of San Diego, where he studied film. He next did a stint in Gotham legit theater and landed a small but memorable role in Zach Braff’s 2004 pic “Garden State.”
Parsons’ credits his breakout success on “Big Bang,” after relatively little time in the biz, to his “luck at getting a character that fits me so well” and for landing in the Chuck Lorre comedy shop.
“I got so lucky in getting hired by these writers,” Parsons said of “Big Bang” co-creator/exec producers Lorre and Bill Prady.
Indeed, Parsons seemed backstage to be channeling his “Big Bang” persona, the idiosyncratic physicist Dr. Sheldon Cooper, when describing how he felt to be nommed for the role the past two years.
“I’m a big reader of almanacs. I like lists,” he said. “I liked being part of a list like this and being a small part of history. Boy, do I sound OCD.”
Parsons win also comes as a bit of vindication for “Big Bang,” which has mostly been snubbed by Emmy voters to date, other than noms for Parsons. Bizzers were surprised when the show didn’t land in the comedy series heat this year after its standout third season. This year, it faces a big challenge in relocating out of the “Two and a Half Men” halo in the Monday 9:30 p.m. slot to the lead-off slot on Thursday, one of TV’s most competitive nights.
Parsons acknowledged that the “Big Bang” team is feeling the heat with the timeslot shift. But on Sunday night he was happy to take a moment to savor the trophy as a nice bit of “gold to bring home” for the show.
“This feels absolutely dreamlike. I keep waiting for somebody to wake me up,” he said. “I am the lamest old man (when it comes to celebrating). This gives me the energy to make it to to roughly 10:30 or 11 p.m. I can rock out with some ice cream tonight.”