For actor Jim Parsons, Texas is a part of who he is personally as well as professionally. His home state not only helped him develop the acting skills that would eventually lead to him landing the role of Sheldon Cooper on the sitcom The Big Bang Theory, but also provided a wonderful place for the actor to grow up.
Parsons told Visit Houston that he feels so lucky to have grown up in the city of Houston. Raised by native Houstonians, he attended the University of Houston where he studied acting and even founded a local theater troupe. Even though Parsons has spent time living in other major cities like New York and Los Angeles, he still misses his hometown in Texas.
"I consider myself so lucky to have grown up in Houston; it was so beneficial to me as a person in general, but very specifically as an actor. And that had a lot to do with the amount of arts that I was surrounded by that informed me and inspired me."
Parsons didn't even leave his beloved hometown until he was 27, when he headed west to attend graduate school at the University of San Diego, where he studied classical theater. It was actually that experience that he credits with preparing him to be able to take on the complicated character of Sheldon. The Big Bang Theory creator Chuck Lorre was so blown away by Parsons' initial audition of the physicist that he asked him back just to see if he could do it again. Clearly...he could.
Playing Sheldon Cooper for twelve years on the successful CBS show earned Parsons four Emmy Awards and even more nominations. But more importantly, he was at the level in his career where he could throw around an idea for a spinoff series specific to his character, and CBS not only listened but immediately ordered 22 episodes.
Young Sheldon is a prequel series to The Big Bang Theory, following a young Sheldon Cooper growing up in the fictional East Texas town of Medford. Iain Armitage plays Sheldon, and Parsons returned to narrate the series as well as executive produce. Though the series, now in its fourth season, isn't filmed in Texas, creators Chuck Lorre and Steven Molaro made sure to actually visit the area so make sure Texans were accurately portrayed in the script.
"Steve and I went to East Texas and Houston and spent some time there last December," Lorre said in a TV Critics Association tour interview, according to My San Antonio. "We wanted to make sure the influence of the environment is part of the show."
Parsons also opened up about a few similarities between himself and Young Sheldon, but admitted he definitely wasn't a boy genius like the character, who enters high school at the age of 9. He didn't have issues with bullies either growing up in the Lone Star state.
"I didn't like sports. I didn't want to play them and I didn't want to watch them. I actually like watching them now, but I still don't play because I don't want to get hurt."
The series is set in the late '80s and Warner Bros even went so far as to have Sheldon's brother Georgie wear a Houston Oilers t-shirt to represent the time before the Texans took over as the city's football team. Laurie Metcalf played Sheldon's mom on Big Bang and her real-life daughter Zoe Perry was cast to play the younger version of her on the spinoff show. It's definitely a dream show for longtime fans of Big Bang who just needed more Sheldon.
For the most part, Medford really nails representing small-town Texas in the '80s/'90s, from Mary Cooper's Dr Pepper addiction and the southern accents to some of the evangelical extremism. The show really is pretty spot-on in representing the great state of Texas and paying homage to where Parsons spent his childhood.