'A Kid Like Jake' isn't Jim Parsons' acting breakthrough, he was always bigger, better than Sheldon Cooper
It's goddamn great to be Jim Parsons right now.
The four-time Emmy winner, in his mid-forties, is looking forward to a defining career moment, the release of his upcoming parental drama 'A Kid Like Jake' this Friday, starring alongside some of the most-recognized Hollywood talents like Claire Danes, Octavia Spencer, and Priyanka Chopra.
Parsons, who is no stranger to strange and emotionally-challenging roles - especially the ones that provoke a reaction based on society's outlook towards popular stereotypes - will be stepping into the shoes of a dad in the film. As Greg, a Brooklyn-based therapist, sharing a 4-year-old son with his lawyer wife Alex (Danes), Parson's character, in fact, seems nothing out of the ordinary at first glance.
But few seconds into the trailer, almost every concerned parent would find themselves relating to this regular New York couple, who are placed in a unique position.
Greg and Alex, in the middle of figuring out their son's impending private school admissions, are suddenly faced with an excruciating situation when Leo's preschool teacher informs the couple that their boy's gender-nonconforming behavior might be more than just a phase. The regular boyish things don't interest the pre-schooler, instead, Leo is more fascinated by fairy tales, princess plays and so on.
In the light of this discovery about his child, the ideals of modern parenting will evidently be tossed aside as Parsons' character struggles to find the momentum, both as a parent and as a spouse.
While concepts of gender conformity, gender fluidity might be still fresh for the big screen audience, for the actor (who in his own words "felt exposed" as a kindergartener in Texas) the societal response to gender differences wasn't a completely alien topic.
In fact, in the Daniel Pearle-scripted film, 'A Kid Like Jake' - which is an adaptation of the writer's 2013 play of the same name - any attempts at finding a solution to the tidal wave of change might be futile. “The movie doesn’t offer any answers or solutions, but what it does is make it okay to ask dumb questions, to fumble with something that you don’t fully understand,” Parsons admits during one of the press rounds.
This unease with the conventional somehow carries through in many of the actor's portrayals - whether it is his immensely popular 11-seasons-long role as a socially-awkward geek in CBS' The Big Bang Theory or his latest stint on the Broadway, where he questions sexual conventions from the 1960s in Ryan Murphy's latest production of the gay classic, 'The Boys in the Band'.
First performed during the heights of homophobia - 50 years ago, in the April of 1968 - the 'Boys' starring Parsons as a central character in the all-star, all-gay production finally debuted on Broadway earlier this week. And one might even argue that the role initiated a crucial new chapter in the actor's life, where he hangs his gawky, eccentric Sheldon Cooper hat and takes on serious and bigger challenges.
But this is the thing with Parsons. He was never typecast. Rather his unique experiences in life (including his decision to come out and eventually tie the knot with Todd Spiewak) just made him the perfect fit for the plethora of unconventional roles that define his acting career to date. And that includes playing a Sitcom character as well.
The 45-year-old actor happily married for close to a year now to his graphic designer husband, has had a change of heart when it comes to the subject of gay marriage.
“I had an evolution on my feelings on gay marriage,” Parsons told Time adding, “in that I didn’t logically see the importance of it. One of the things that changed my feelings on that was when I thought about, ‘Oh my God, part of the reason you feel this way is because it was never a possibility and so you never dreamed about it.’”
Almost six years after coming out as an openly gay actor, Parsons is leading changes in manners delightful to his heart. And interestingly enough, he finds "continuity" between his life choices and the evolution of his sitcom character, Sheldon.
The obvious parallels with his personal life aside, the hit CBS role that earned him a paycheck of $1 million per episode, putting him in the top spot as the highest-paid TV actor (an earning of altogether $27.5 million as of 2017) makes it possible for Parsons to afford his passion on stage.
Also not to forget a comfortable lifestyle in New York with his husband, when not hustling around in Los Angeles on the sets of The Big Bang Theory.
"In the last couple of years, I’m grateful for the ability to choose what I want to do. That’s a double-edged sword because people can say, ‘You didn’t need to do that to pay the rent. Why in heck did you do that?’” Parsons says, reflecting at his enviable position, thanks to the line-up of big-screen release, the forthcoming season 12 of TBBT and the recent Broadway feature.
It is also partly because of the prominence garnered on the small screen that the actor found Broadway opportunities falling into his lap, without breaking a sweat. He starred in Larry Kramer's (almost) autobiographical play, 'The Normal Heart' in 2011 as the gay activist Tommy Boatwright in the middle of an AIDS epidemic.
The critically-acclaimed production was later taken up for a cinematic iteration, where Parsons joined a truly star-studded cast boasting names such as Matt Bomer, Mark Ruffalo, and Julia Roberts. A check in the quality performance box.
Besides being a critic's favorite, as it turns out, Boatwright's role was a personal score for Parsons as well. He once told Huffington Post, "I started consciously making the connection of what level of importance doing this part has to me as a gay man,” speaking about being associated with the character.
The persona of Parsons, in fact, at least in the public eyes is best summarized as a sum total of his career choices. He might have grabbed a few more eyeballs with the Big Bang, and rightly so, but he was always striving for excellence - and 'A Kid Like Jake' hopefully serves as the step in this right direction.