You've seen him on screens big and small. He made a name for himself in comedies and proved his acting chops with some meaty dramatic roles. For this day in Pride Month, we salute Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor Jim Parsons.
How You Know Him
Jim Parsons is easily best known as genius geek Dr. Sheldon Cooper from TV's "The Big Bang Theory." But he's turned in a handful of memorable film roles. Kids will know him best as the voice of runaway alien Oh in DreamWorks' "Home." He also appeared in a cameo as the personified version of Muppet Walter during the showstopping song "Man or Muppet" from 2011's "The Muppets."
On the dramatic side, Parsons has appeared in Zack Braff's Sundance gems "Garden State" and "Wish I Was Here." You'll also spot him in Theodore Melfi's historical drama "Hidden Figures," Silas Howard's family drama "A Kid Like Jake," and Joe Berlinger's historical crime thriller "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile."
Parsons made his Broadway debut in 2011 with the play "The Normal Heart." Three years later, Parsons reprised his role as Tommy Boatwright for Ryan Murphy's HBO film adaptation. His performance, alongside lead Mark Ruffalo, landed him an Emmy nomination.
More recently Parsons re-teamed with Ryan Murphy for Netflix's "Hollywood," Murphy's ode to a more inclusive version of the Golden Age of Cinema. Parsons followed that up with another theater role reprisal, this time in the Netflix adaptation of "The Boys in the Band."
His Life So Far
Just like his fictional character Sheldon, Jim Parsons was born in Texas. At the age of six, Parsons caught the acting bug after appearing in a school play. He would continue to act in school productions all throughout his high school and college years. Parsons attended the University of Houston where he studied theater and helped found a Houston-based theater company.
In the early 2000s, Parsons moved to New York and continued acting in theater. At this time he also landed a few recurring TV roles on "Judging Amy" and "Ed." In 2003, Parsons made his theatrical debut in the French rom-com "Happy End." He landed a few more film roles throughout the decade, most notably in the movies "Garden State" and "School for Scoundrels."
Parsons's big break came in 2007 when he landed the role of TV's Dr. Sheldon Cooper on "The Big Bang Theory." Parsons, however, is not like his famous sitcom counterpart. He is not fluent in science nor Klingon. But he took to the role mainly because of what he called the "rhythm" of the words, telling his hometown paper, the Houston Chronicle, that it was a chance for him to "dance through [the] dialogue." "The Big Bang Theory" also allowed Parsons to dabble in physical comedy. TV critics have compared him to silent film stars like Buster Keaton, but he probably also picked up a few pointers from John Ritter and his classic show "Three's Company" (one of his sitcom inspirations).
The CBS sitcom landed Parsons six Primetime Emmy nominations, four of which he won. The role also turned Parsons into a bigger star, which led to even bigger film roles. This included turns in the Steve Martin/Jack Black/Owen Wilson comedy "The Big Year," and the later roles mentioned above.
The Movie to See
As we highlighted, Jim Parsons has played prominent roles in many great dramas like "Hidden Figures" and "The Boys in the Band." But we've already recommended those. For this day in Pride Month, we're going to pick Ryan Murphy's phenomenal HBO film "The Normal Heart."
Parsons had already made his Broadway debut in the stage play, so a chance to reprise his role for a film adaptation was a no-brainer. "The Normal Heart," based on the play by Larry Kramer, details the onset of the AIDS epidemic in New York City, as seen through the eyes of several gay activists, including the fictional Ned Weeks (a Kramer alter ego played by Mark Ruffalo).
In the film, Parsons portrays Tommy Boatwright, an activist based on Rodger McFarlane. As depicted in the film, Boatwright helps Weeks and others form a community organization called Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC). This was -- and still is -- a real NY-based organization founded by Kramer and others. In real life, McFarlane led a crisis hotline that originated in his house. The hotline eventually turned into one of the organization's most effective tools for sharing AIDS information.
The role of Boatwright in "The Normal Heart" landed Parsons his seventh Emmy nomination. It was his first nomination for a role unrelated to "The Big Bang Theory."
What's Up Next
Later this year Jim Parsons is set to star in the HBO Max movie "So Much," based on a book by Internet sensation Anna Akana. In 2007, Akana's younger sister took her own life. The book is a collection of essays that details Akana's struggles as she gives advice about life and womanhood, not just to her late sister, but to young women everywhere. Akana will be co-starring in the film, and both Parsons and Akana will produce, along with Diablo Cody.
Matt Lissauer is a writer & data manager for Noovie. When he is not busy writing listicles, Matt is enjoying life in New Jersey with his lovely wife and three kids.