“The Big Bang Theory” Jim Parsons celebrates gay roles, but doesn’t want to limit them

The New York Times

Ten years ago, actor Jim Parsons, who was on the cusp of a comedy series that would lead him to the top of Forbes magazine’s list of the highest-paid actors on television, casually told the New York Times that he was gay, and has been involved in a long-term relationship. She remembers that she didn’t want his sexual orientation to become the overriding concern for him from 2012 onwards.

Now, having recently wrapped an off-Broadway run of the musical “A Man of No Importance,” he stars in the romantic drama “Spoiler Alert” (out in theaters), which he also co-produced. In both productions, he plays gay characters, and Parsons says he wouldn’t trade the work he’s doing for nothing.

“Right after that article came out, I felt something I’ve never felt before: that being part of a group has empowered me,” Parsons, 49, said in a recent video chat. The actor added that he was happy not to just play gay roles, even if he is offered a new job involving gay characters.

“It has turned into a wonderful opportunity to get to know me,” she said. “I don’t mean that I feel completely satisfied or that there aren’t many other things I still want to do, but really, there’s no way I could feel much happier, or more fulfilled, than I am right now. “

Parsons links this feeling of catharsis to an ongoing search for love and acceptance. Growing up gay in suburban Houston, the actor said, meant he spent the first two decades of his life with a “very real understanding that love wasn’t going to be accessible” in certain quarters of his life. Even after successful years in her career, she still considers herself in the midst of a journey to come to terms with the feeling that it’s “overwhelming, and somehow difficult, accepting so much love from so many people at the same time.” .

She said her recent projects are a reflection of that journey. “It’s kind of funny because a lot of them I didn’t even cast,” the actor said. “But the opportunity to find out these things about myself and other human beings as part of the process feels like a gift.”

“Spoiler Alert” is an adaptation of a memoir by broadcaster Michael Ausiello, which chronicles the situation the couple faced when her husband, Kit Cowan, was diagnosed with cancer, and the difficult road it took to take. . This offered Parsons an “open vein” of emotion that piqued his interest due to his enduring fascination with the issue of mortality, something he said was reinforced by his father’s death in a car accident in 2001 and from the loss of your dog, years later.

“Both experiences were very painful, but they gave me an insight into how precious my time is in the world, something I’ve never experienced before, and now I will see my life forever through the lens of having loved and having lost what I really liked The thing that really struck me about the book was the story of two people who have the opportunity, tragic but also unique and rare, to bare their soul, or the closest thing to it can imagine to that experience. that one must have if one wants to live and love fully.”

Parsons and Ausiello had some contact on red carpets and press events during 12 seasons of “The Big Bang Theory,” of which the reporter has always been an avowed fan, but it wasn’t until he asked Parsons for an interview from him. promotional book, in 2018, that the actor learned of Ausiello’s story.

“I remember scrolling through Michael’s Instagram after reading the book and seeing a picture of us together at the Emmys,” Parsons said. “I saw the date on the photo and realized he was going through all of this when we took it, and I had no idea. I didn’t know Kit, I didn’t know he was sick, and I wasn’t even close enough for Michael to know, but however, that was a feeling I couldn’t get away from.

Parsons identified with the commonalities between Ausiello and Cowan’s collaboration and her relationship with her husband and partner in the production company they run, Todd Spiewak.

Ausiello told me over the phone that Parsons’ pace of humor has always appealed to him, on and off the screen, and the same goes for his surprising career choices, such as playing a supporting role in “Hanging Stars,” a film of 2016, after winning four Emmys for Outstanding Comedy Actor for ‘The Big Bang Theory’.

“We’ve had an interesting relationship and our interviews have always been very acidic and playful,” Ausiello said. “I’ve always enjoyed interviewing him because I knew it would be a fun experience; he had an answer to everything I said and his timing was impeccable.”

When Ausiello’s book promotion event came around, the roles of the two would be reversed: Parsons would ask the questions. “He came to the Barnes & Noble store with pages and pages of notes—he’s done his homework,” said Ausiello. “It was backstage before we said goodbye that Todd mentioned they were interested in acquiring an option on my book; it was the first time the subject had been mentioned and I was completely surprised.”

For Parsons, the film brought about the greatest involvement he has ever had in any of his projects. While he was not deeply involved in the financial discussions, Parsons played a central role in the production, also selecting English actor Ben Aldridge’s dialogue coach, choosing the teacher who coached him on accents when the actor attended the ‘University of San Diego.

In recent years, Parsons has taken the reins more frequently through the production company he and Spiewak formed in 2015, as well as accepting more lead roles in a variety of productions. In December, he finished the run of a Classic Stage Company revival of “A Man of No Importance.” The play revolves around the efforts of a gay man who has yet to come out of the closet to lead a theater company. New York Times critic Jesse Green described Parsons’ performance this way: “With his confident voice, quiet face, and television perfectionism, he never seems hopeless or, seen from the perspective of our time, too old.” for a new beginning.” .

His previous stage stint, in the 2018 Broadway revival of ‘The Boys in the Band’ (a film adaptation is being filmed in 2020), saw him work with Matt Bomer, who was also a hit on television before coming out gay in 2012. In a phone interview, Bomer explained that when he met Parsons, Parsons was already a “legend” on the Houston suburban high school theater circuit (although born a few years apart, the two grew up in Spring , Texas).

He said he respected Parsons’ leadership and “his fearless approach to character” during the revival, in which Bomer played one of the lead roles, that of a not-so-nice guy.

“Jim achieved the kind of television success that happens once in a generation, and after that he could do whatever he wanted,” Bomer said. “He’s translated that freedom of choice into really thoughtful design and performance, and he’s taken creative responsibility for a lot of really cool projects that I really respect.”

Three years after stepping down from the role of Sheldon Cooper that made him famous, Parsons isn’t sure if his new film and the musical he recently wrapped indicate a new phase in his career as a star, different from the more collective works of which it’s so famous.

“Both jobs have required constant and intense communication with my partners, and I like having a lot to do,” the actor said. “It’s so much easier, when I have one of the lead roles, because I’m constantly in demand on set or on stage; it’s better than having a lot of free time and getting lost in my thoughts. Because I always find something else to do, I swear, and I don’t It’s as healthy as just doing the work and that’s it.”

Translated by Paolo Migliacci

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