Jim Parsons seems tailor-made for the role of Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. But a new Vanity Fair interview reveals Parsons had considered quite a different career path before acting caught his interest. Parsons, now 42, was so enthralled by the weather as a child that he had a favorite television weatherman, Neil Frank. When he got to the University of Houston, he enrolled in a class on meteorology.
Neil Frank retired from Houston’s KHOU Channel 11 in 2008. He had been with the station for 21 years. Prior to that, he spent 25 years at the National Hurricane Center, according to a profile in Houston History Magazine. That would have been many years for Parsons to watch Dr. Frank and, apparently, get some career inspiration. The Vanity Fair article notes that Parsons watched the coverage of Hurricane Alice in 1983 with great interest.
Frank’s last forecast on Channel 11 is on YouTube, and you can watch that below.
As for Parsons’ own meteorology career, that was stalled after he failed that university class. He told Vanity Fair it wasn’t for lack of talent, but simply because he discovered acting. He never went to his weather class.
“It was just like, ‘You know what? I found my passion already.'”
After attending the University of Houston, Jim Parsons eventually went on to the University of San Diego, where he got an M.F.A. He stopped drinking on New Year’s Day in 2007 shortly after filming the Big Bang Theory pilot. Alcohol, he said, “only makes foggy things foggier.”
Other tidbits in the Vanity Fair article include Parsons’ use of note cards to memorize the scientific dialogue on The Big Bang Theory. The technique is apparently working. In a review of last week’s episode, “The Communication Deterioration,” Lincee Ray wrote in Entertainment Weekly that dialogue surrounding a NASA project was confusing and “[r]ather than wondering what they were talking about, I chose to be impressed with Jim Parsons and Simon Helberg’s ability to memorize such intricate dialogue.”
Parsons is using the same notecard technique to memorize his dialogue for the upcoming play An Act of God. A clip from a Big Bang Theory Season 4 DVD had Parsons interviewing co-star Mayim Bialik, taking questions placed on note cards. Parsons made reference to his technique to learn Sheldon’s lines.
In the companion video to the Vanity Fair piece, Parsons shows his prowess with a baseball bat and reveals his unusual favorite dessert. Hint: it’s got something to do with olive oil.
The Big Bang Theory airs Thursday nights on CBS.
[Jim Parsons image courtesy of Getty]