Jim Parsons, before he was cast as Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, was like any other struggling actor. He had his sights set on big opportunities and was disappointed when they failed to materialize. Even after nearly a decade of prime-time television success with Big Bang, Parsons still recalls the roles that got away.
During a red carpet interview at the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday, Glamour blogger Jessica Radloff asked Parsons what role he wanted but didn’t get. Parsons, unlike Modern Family star Julie Bowen who joked it was “anything that Elizabeth Banks has ever done,” was deliberate in his response. He mentioned a now long-cancelled sitcom that has more than a few connections to The Big Bang Theory.
“There was a show that was on for one season called ‘Out of Practice’ that producer Christopher Lloyd did, and I wanted that very, very badly. I got called back and stuff and went far enough [in the process] for it to be disappointing when it didn’t happen. It all worked out for the best—for all of us—but that is the first thing [I think of].”
Out of Practice aired for one season, 2005-2006, and starred Christopher Gorham as the lone therapist in a family of doctors. Stockard Channing was nominated for an Emmy for her part in the series. Big Bang Theory director Mark Cendrowski also directed four episodes of Practice. Carol Ann Susi, the recently-deceased actor who was the voice of Mrs. Wolowitz on Big Bang, appeared in two episodes.
Even though The Big Bang Theory debuted in the 2007-2008 season, it was in development long before that. An early pilot that featured Parsons and Johnny Galecki had an across-the-hall neighbor named “Katie.” There is every possibility that had Parsons gotten the role on Practice as he so dearly wanted, he never would have ended up on Big Bang— even if Practice only lasted one year.
Since Parsons was available, Big Bang Theory show runner Chuck Lorre found his Sheldon. He was so good in the original audition he was asked back to make sure it was for real, as Lorre told The New York Times in 2012.
“He physically embodied a character who was like none we had seen before — the peculiar rhythms of the words, the way he held his body. He was uncanny in the choices he was making second to second.”
There is good news for Big Bang Theory fans. After three weeks of reruns, the show has a new episode this Thursday. In “The Anxiety Optimization,” Sheldon asks his friends to make him miserable.
The Big Bang Theory airs on CBS.
[Jim Parsons image: Robert Hanashiro for USA Today]