Jim Parsons is not at the center of the new film Hidden Figures. That would be the group of African-American women in the segregated south who, as NPR reported, were instrumental in doing the math that got men into space in the early days of the space program. But Parsons plays a NASA engineer in the new film, a role that would seem consistent with his best known part as a brainy physicist on The Big Bang Theory.
Noting the potential parallels, Variety asked Parsons whether he’s ever longed to play a character who is a little less intellectual. He was unequivocal in his response.
“Yes! I used to get cast frequently as dumb people. Or rather, they were either not bright or had a certain idiot savant quality about them. There is great joy in playing someone who doesn’t know what the hell is happening.”
Although Parsons describes his character as on the wrong side of history, and thus someone he was not sure he wanted to portray, he reasoned the role was important. He compared it to a similar role played by Kirsten Dunst in the film.
“[W]e serve the same purpose: we’re an embodiment of hurdles and attitude of the time. By reading her storyline and seeing what her role was, I really got it. Plus, it’s really fun as an actor to be in conflict — that’s where the joy is, a lot of the time.”
Parsons particularly enjoyed his scenes alongside Empire star Taraji P. Henson. Octavia Spencer and Janelle Monae, along with Henson, lead the film. It’s based on a nonfiction book that was released earlier this year by Margot Lee Shetterly. The film deal was in place just after Shetterly got her book deal.
Hidden Figures opens December 25, shortly after the winter finale of Season 10 of The Big Bang Theory. In the episode that aired last week, Howard and Bernadette had their first child and Amy and Sheldon — after some delays — engaged in some birthday coitus.
As Glamour reported, the scene where Amy appeared in a Harry Potter-world costume to entice Sheldon was discussed at length by the writers — specifically to which house Amy should belong. Executive producer Steve Molaro sees Amy as on the cusp between Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw, but opted for Hufflepuff because that house exemplifies patience.
After 10 years playing Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, Parsons says he is often recognized, although it is still jarring when people see him as Jim and not Sheldon. He’s also grateful for the kindness he receives from strangers, as he told Variety.
“If I’m recognized, people are very polite. They’ll call out to me: ‘Sheldon!’ But I’m more amazed when people know my name, when I hear ‘Jim.’ Even at this late stage in the game, I’m not used to it, I always wonder how I know them. Because people are so sweet and I’m only that sweet to people I’ve met before!”
In addition to his work as an actor on the big and small screen, Parsons runs a company with Todd Spiewak, That’s Wonderful! productions. Inquisitr reported last month that the were producing a pilot for a new comedy called Lakeside VA. Parsons was reportedly going to executive produce a Big Bang Theory spinoff that focuses on a young Sheldon Cooper.
Hidden Figures opens December 25. The Big Bang Theory airs Thursday nights on CBS and will return in January with new episodes.
[Featured Image by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]