Ending of Big Bang Theory is ‘like a death’: Jim Parsons
Jim Parsons prepares to mourn the show's end and will miss seeing his co-stars, who are like family
When Jim Parsons turned down US$50 million (S$68.8 million) to do Seasons 13 and 14 of The Big Bang Theory, the producers decided that Season 12 would be the last as they could not continue the show without him.
While the 45-year-old AMerican actor is expected to remain in his role as narrator in the prequel Young Sheldon, the award-winning sitcom about the socially awkward scientists and their friends will air its final episode in May next year.
The 12th and final season of The Big Bang Theory airs every Friday at 8.10pm on Warner TV (StarHub TV Ch 515/Singtel TV Ch 306). Parsons was the breakout star of the series from the first season back in 2007 and has won four Emmys for it.
He also topped Forbes' list of the highest paid TV actors of the last year, earning US$26.5 million, for the fourth year in a row.
His character Sheldon Cooper, a theoretical physicist with an eidetic memory, appealed to fans with his neurotic and arrogant persona that was leavened with charm.
At our interview at the London West Hollywood hotel, Parsons talked about the end of the show - which co-stars Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik - with some regret.
It reminded me of having to put a dog to sleep... You know you are doing the right thing, but it’s still very, very painful. Because it is a death, there’s no way around it.Jim Parsons on the final season of The Big Bang Theory
"It was sentimental, it was harder to talk about it with everybody than I thought it would be. It will be 12 years. There is nothing about it that feels like it's too soon. But even so, this is morbid, but it reminded me of having to put a dog to sleep," he said with a laugh.
"Not that the show is sick. You know you are doing the right thing, but it is still very, very painful. Because it is a death, there's no way around it. It's not just another job ending, it's a whole way of life ending for all of us."
We speculated about the ending. As Sheldon and Amy (Bialik) are now married, is there a baby in the offing?
"Ai-ai-ai," he answered, taken aback. "Well, death is out of the question apparently because of Young Sheldon. I have narrated from the future, so they can't kill me. The things the writers imagined for these characters is beyond anything I would ever come up with.
"A baby would surprise me, so therefore maybe there will be a baby. I don't think so, she would need to be pregnant as a character right now, so I don't think I am going to hold a child, not in this context."
Then how would Parsons like it to end?
"I guess my instinct is that he shouldn't be too far removed from what he is today. I think one of the keys to the success of this series is that they have managed to keep these characters growing while very much tied to who they were at day one.
"It wouldn't do anybody any favours and the audience wouldn't enjoy it if things got too crazy just because it was the last episode."
Parsons said his mum is the one most upset about The Big Bang Theory's demise.
"She is much more broken up about this than I am. She is devastated this is the last season. I am like, 'How long did you think we would do it?'" he said with a laugh.
What he will miss most will be seeing everybody on the set.
"It gets said a lot that things like this become family. And I am always like, 'Yeah, whatever, they are still co-workers.'
"But the bottom line is that like family, you take it for granted that you will see them. As we are getting to the end, we have 17 (episodes) more to do, you take the good, you take the bad and it's like 'Oh, I will be sorry not to see everybody.
"Simon Helberg (and I) spend a lot of time together. We go back and forth to our dressing rooms and have talked for almost 12 years now, and that I will miss.
"I think that's something that six months down the road after we finished, I will be like, 'I haven't talked to Simon in a deep way in a long time.' And that will be hard, I think."
Parsons, who is openly gay and married his art director-husband last year, has an ambivalent attitude to his fame.
"The whole experience of more and more people knowing who you are is to me at least inherently awkward."
There are no plans after The Big Bang Theory ends other than to move back to his home in New York from Hollywood.
"I really don't know. That is the exciting view of looking at it, more unexpected and more unsure of what is going to happen than we have been in the past decade. But it can also be frightening and I am trying to keep a very positive outlook on it, like it's going to be great. I think it will be great," he said.