“The Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons goes from student of the universe to creator of it
Author Erin Brady Photography Kirk McKoy/Contour by Getty Images
As theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory,” Jim Parsons has honed his hyperintelligent, rigidly logical and sometimes childish character into one of the most popular and best loved on television. Eight seasons, four Emmys and a bona fide catchphrase (“Bazinga!”) later, Sheldon may be a tough act to follow, but Parsons’ latest role is taking him to new heights.
Now, the 42-year-old is hitting Broadway as the title character in “An Act of God,” a comedy from “The Daily Show” alum David Javerbaum that promises to “reveal the mysteries of the Bible while answering the existential questions that have plagued mankind—in just 90 minutes.” Here, Parsons, who is onstage alone for much of the show—which, incidentally, is being put on in a bit of a sacred space, the building that once housed the famed nightclub Studio 54—talks about comedy, context and controversy. (out now)
• On controversy
I didn’t approach this, or anything I’ve ever done, with the idea of “people won’t like this” or “people won’t approve of this.” That may sound naive, but I really didn’t. I have to say, though, that Sheldon being well liked is as much an accident in my career as if people don’t approve of the God portrayal.
• On going it alone onstage
It’s a welcome challenge, but there’s no doubt that there’s a certain dauntingness about it—and not just the lines. I do a lot of talking in this with very little interruption, but I like it. I like that challenge. I did walk into this worried about a feeling of loneliness in a way. It’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like this.
• On context
Social media can be so tricky. In regular conversation, it’s easy to just talk and not be 100 percent thoughtfully editorializing things with every sentence. But a comedian trying out new material on Twitter is obviously dangerous. Sometimes it’s things you would say in your living room to two other people who are completely on the same page as you. That kind of thing gets thrown onto Twitter and is easily and not inappropriately taken out of context. Comedy and tone don’t always travel well.
• On the power of comedy
This play is an example of using comedy to crack open thornier topics. I think there are parts that are very thoughtful and brush up against some more profound ideas, and it was only through the comedy that we were able to get there.
• On performing in Studio 54
It certainly has a storied history, but even beyond that there’s a certain Old World regalness about the venue itself. You feel like you’re walking into a building that has housed a lot of different “excitements,” if you will.