Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s 2010 Emmy coverage.
Jim Parsons is kinda sitting on top of the world these days after having just landed his 2nd consecutive Emmy nomination for his role as the brilliant nerdball physicist Sheldon Cooper on the CBS hit The Big Bang Theory. But it’s also a time of real anxiety for him as well. For one, he’s nervous about both winning and losing an Emmy category where he’s considered a frontrunner. And when his competition includes 3-time winner Tony Shalhoub (Monk) and 2-time victor Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) along with perennial nominees Steve Carell (The Office) and Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm) plus newcomer Matthew Morrison (Glee). Parsons is also a bit on edge because of the tense salary renegotiation going on right now between Warner Bros TV and the three Big Bang leads (Parsons and co-stars Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco). Parsons, 37, spoke with Ray Richmond for Deadline Hollywood about the Emmys, his finances, and the best thing about being a rich and famous TV star.
Deadline Hollywood: So, is this Emmy thing in the bag or what?
Jim Parsons: What? No! Of course not.
DH: It’s what those in the know are saying.
JP: Well, that’s great. But the way I see it, you can look at the Emmys two ways in you’re nominated. It’s either win-win or lose-lose. If things go very well and I win, you still have to get up in front of a group of people and risk having God knows what come out of your mouth. If you won’t win, you have to breathe deeply and smile and clap with a camera in your face. Last year, just before they announced my award, I was weak in the knees and had sweaty palms. It wasn’t because I was nervous about winning or losing. It was having to accept the trophy if I did win.
DH: And then you lost.
JP: Yes! So it all worked out. But I still don’t see the odds being with me winning. It’s…what is it? One in six. But you know, my competition is awfully good. My stomach is already in knots. The problem is that I don’t drink, so I can’t calm myself that way. I wish I could be better at pretending I don’t care.
DH: Let’s get onto a subject that should calm you right down. How are salary renegotiations coming along?
JP: Oh yeah, that’s much more relaxing. You know, as (fellow castmate) Kaley (Cuoco) said at the TCA panel, we all have people who take care of these things. Of course, my parents also told me it isn’t very polite for people to ask about this stuff. But the truth is that people only care because Big Bang is doing so well and they love the show.
DH: But you don’t expect there’s going to be any sort of holdout? You guys will be going back to work next Wednesday as scheduled?
JP: No. And yes.
DH: And you think you’ll be able to live on whatever it is you wind up getting paid every week?
JP: (laughing) Yes. I mean, it isn’t called TV money for nothing. There was a time where I paid my rent by doing theater for years, and I was able to buy groceries and pay my electric bill. I considered myself to be making a living as an actor. This kind of money that we make is a whole other level, of course. But it really is simply the cherry on top of a job and a role that I adore. What this is about is hopefully an opportunity for me to help pave the way for my future in terms of getting financially choosier. You have to plan the windfall as if it’ll be your only one.
DH: If I’m hearing you right, then, you’re doing this job for the love rather than the money?
JP: Oh God yes. Playing Sheldon is just heaven for me. I realize how enormously lucky I am to play a role that makes me so incredibly happy. As I told Chuck Lorre in a Christmas card a few years ago, I’m living a version of the dream.
DH: Are you getting a lot of offers to do movies and plays during your hiatus?
JP: Some. It isn’t like I’m turning down offers every week. I did do one film this summer: the comedy The Big Year with an amazing cast. It’s great to be asked to do movies with people like Steve Martin and Owen Wilson.
DH: Do you feel like there’s a danger of your being typecast, considering how distinctive a character Sheldon Cooper is?
JP: Realistically, there is a danger, of course, when you’re going into someone’s living room as the same guy every week. But I don’t fear it because, I mean, there’s really nothing I can do about it. I can try to combat it through the work, and maybe make sure I don’t do Sheldon 2.0 in any other projects. But it’s just really hard for me to find any negative side effects from this experience.
DH: What’s the best thing this job has done for your life?
JP: I’ll tell you what it is. I have this thing. I’ve always been uncomfortable going to any party where people don’t understand why I’m there. One of the best things about partaking in a show like this is, when I show up to events and parties now, they know me. I don’t have to hear, ‘Oh, you’re an actor? Have I seen you in anything?’ anymore. I used to have to start listing things off of my resume’. It’s really nice not to have to do that anymore.