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Jim Parsons Takes the Romantic Lead


Ten years ago, the actor Jim Parsons, riding high on the success of the sitcom that might result in his eventually making the Forbes list as the very best paid actor in television, casually told The Latest York Times that he was gay and in a long-term relationship. He remembers not wanting every little thing from 2012 forward to be about his sexual orientation.

Now starring within the romantic drama “Spoiler Alert” (in theaters), of which he was also considered one of the producers, and having just wrapped an Off Broadway run of the musical “A Man of No Importance” — each of which have him playing gay leads — he says he wouldn’t trade the work he’s been capable of do for anything.

“Right after that piece got here out, I felt power in being a part of a bunch that I had not known I could feel,” Parsons, 49, said on a recent video call. He added that he was completely satisfied to not find yourself pigeonholed as an actor who could only do gay roles, even when more work got here his way featuring gay characters.

“It became a ravishing exploration of myself,” he said. “To not say I feel completely satisfied and that there’s not plenty I still wish to do, but I don’t know the way I could possibly be much happier or feel more fulfilled.”

Parsons ties this sense of catharsis to a lifelong quest to seek out himself worthy of affection and acceptance. Growing up gay in a Houston suburb, he said he spent his first 20 years with a “very real understanding that love can be lost” to him in certain corners of his life. Years right into a successful profession, he still considers himself on a journey to beat the sensation that it’s “overwhelming and a bit difficult to simply accept that much love from so many individuals directly.”

He said that his recent projects have reflected that journey. “It’s type of funny, since so lots of them I didn’t pick,” he said, “but this likelihood to find this stuff about myself, and other humans in the method, looks like a present.”

“Spoiler Alert” is tailored from a memoir by the tv journalist Michael Ausiello, recounting the cancer diagnosis of his husband, Kit Cowan, and the difficult path on which it set the 2. It presented Parsons with an “open vein” of emotion that appealed to his lifelong fascination with mortality, one he said was deepened by the death of his father in a 2001 automobile accident, and the lack of his dog years later.

“Each experiences were so painful, yet offered me a view of the preciousness of my time here that I had not experienced before, and I’ll endlessly now view my life through that lens of getting loved and lost,” he said. “The thing that actually crept up on me within the book was the story of two individuals who have this tragic, but in addition unique and rare, opportunity to undergo an experience as near two naked souls as you possibly can be. It cracks open each of their hearts to see the risks that should be taken so as to live and love fully.”

Parsons and Ausiello had interacted on red carpets and press junkets throughout the 12-season run of “The Big Bang Theory,” of which the journalist was a vocal fan, nevertheless it wasn’t until he asked Parsons to host a promotional Q. and A. for his book in 2018 that the actor learned Ausiello’s story.

The actor stars within the tear-jerker romance “Spoiler Alert,” adapted from the memoir by the tv journalist Michael Ausiello.

“I remember going back through Michael’s Instagram after reading the book, and seeing this picture of us on the Emmys,” Parsons said. “I saw the date on it and realized he’d been within the thick of all this once we took it, and I had no idea. I never met Kit, I didn’t know he was sick, I wasn’t friends enough with Michael to know, but I couldn’t shake that feeling.”

Parsons became attached to the overlaps he saw between Ausiello and Cowan’s partnership and his own relationship along with his husband and producing partner, Todd Spiewak. (A tweet from Ausiello, posted on the day of Parsons’s 2012 Times interview, points to 2 of those most important parallels.)

Ausiello recounted by phone at all times being drawn to Parsons’s comic rhythms, on- and offscreen, in addition to his surprising profession selections, like taking up a supporting role within the 2016 film “Hidden Figures” after having won 4 acting Emmys for “The Big Bang Theory.”

“We had this interesting rapport and snarky banter that made our interviews a lot fun,” Ausiello said. “I looked forward to talking to him since it was going to be an entertaining experience; he was going to offer me as much as I’d give him, and never miss a beat.”

For the book Q. and A., this time it might be Parsons within the interviewer chair. “He shows up at this Barnes & Noble with pages of notes — he did his homework,” Ausiello said. “It was backstage, before we walked out, that Todd mentioned to me that they were keen on optioning the book; that was the primary time I discovered, and I used to be like a deer within the headlights.”

For Parsons, the film proved to be essentially the most involved he had been in any project. Though he mainly stayed out of its financial facets, he played a central role in production, right down to choosing his English co-star Ben Aldridge’s vocal coach — the identical one he had as a student on the University of San Diego.

The past few years have seen Parsons taking the reins more often through the production company he and Spiewak began in 2015, in addition to entering into more leading roles. This month, he finished a run within the Classic Stage Company revival of “A Man of No Importance,” a few closeted man’s efforts to guide a theater troupe. The Times critic Jesse Green wrote of his performance, “Along with his confident voice, unlined face and tv polish, he never seems hopeless or, viewed from our time, too old for a recent start.”

His last stage outing before that, within the 2018 Broadway revival of “The Boys within the Band” (a 2020 film adaptation followed), saw him play opposite Matt Bomer, who also attained mainstream recognition through television before coming out as gay in 2012. In a phone interview, Bomer explained that he’d known Parsons as a “legend” within the suburban Houston highschool drama circuit. (Though born a number of years apart, each men grew up in Spring, Texas.)

He said he got here to respect Parsons’s leadership and “fearless approach to the character” while working on the production, during which he played an often unlikable colead.

“Jim achieved the variety of television success that happens once in a generation, and he could have done anything he wanted after that,” Bomer said. “He’s translated it into these really thoughtful selections and performances, and brought creative responsibility for plenty of projects which are so interesting and that I actually respect.”

Three years faraway from playing Sheldon, the role that made him a household name, Parsons isn’t sure that this recent film and the recent musical point to a recent profession phase of leading roles, versus the ensemble projects for which he’s been known.

“Each projects required such tremendous, constant communication with my partners, and I like having quite a bit to do,” he said. “It’s much easier, if I’m a lead, to be continually needed on set or onstage than it’s to have swaths of time without work, where I can get in my very own head. Because I’ll find something else to do, I promise you, and it won’t be nearly as healthy as just doing the work.”

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