Jim Parsons was on top of the world. But even though he was starring as Sheldon Cooper on the hit television series Big Bang Theory, he never felt comfortable enough during the show’s early days to publicly discuss his sexual orientation. He recently revealed the reason to The Hollywood Reporter.
“I was scared that it might cause trouble, quote unquote, for our big television show,” the 47-year-old Parsons explained.
Parsons was 33 when Big Bang Theory first aired in 2007. At the time, the working actor had some minor roles on television, film, and Off-Broadway, but he was perhaps best known for his quirky portrayal of a man raised by wolves in a hilariously odd 2003 Quiznos commercial.
Times were different for LGBTQ+ persons back then. While society was certainly more tolerant than in the past, Parsons recalls it wasn’t “even close to the era we are in now, as far as what it meant to tell somebody you were gay.” In response, he never really denied he was gay, but he also made a point of not talking about it publicly.
“So I was scared,” he confessed. “I wasn't scared about losing my job. And I wasn't scared to the point of denying my sexuality. But I was scared enough to make it my mission not to talk about it.”
He eventually came out (sort of) during a 2012 interview with Patrick Healy of The New York Times. Parsons was portraying Harvey in The Normal Heart on Broadway at the time.
“I can't remember the exact question, but he asked about something to the effect of, 'Was it more meaningful to be a part of The Normal Heart being gay?'" he recalled. "I said yes. I remember leaving there going, well, I sort of just took the back door out, as it were. I remember thinking it was kind of poetically perfect.”