Young Sheldon: An interview with the cast and creators

An interview with Chuck Lorre (creator), Steven Molaro (creator), Jim Parsons (Sheldon), Iain Armitage (Young Sheldon)

Jim, how similar or not was your childhood to the young Sheldon?

JIM: Mine was completely different. I was not an overly bright child. I was mediocre, and I just didn't have… I didn't befuddle my parents. That came much later, with my sexuality. So, no, it's very different. And to the point of Iain, Iain's so much more in control as a human being than I was back then. Congratulations.

IAIN: I don't think that's true.

JIM: Well, you didn't know me, at all.

IAIN: But I know you now.

JIM: You do know me now, and now is now and then was then and it's very different. So, yeah, very little in common, but I am enjoying watching it happen immensely.

When you were growing up in Texas, what were some ways that maybe you were a little different from other people and you just in some way felt like young Sheldon?

JIM: I didn't like sports. I didn't want to play them and I didn't want to watch them. I actually like watching them now, but I still don't play because I don't want to get hurt. How else was I different? I mean, I enjoyed playing the piano, and I enjoyed doing theatre, and that…

IAIN: So basically me.

JIM: Well, look, here's the difference. You have a very smart, mature approach to this. I was much more fearful of other people than you were. You are so… you will talk to anyone. I still won't, no offense, but I really won't. But I would say in those ways, and in many ways I felt very I had a great time as a child. I really did. But, yeah, those are some of the ways in which I was just slightly different, a smaller group

What do you bring to the table on that show as a producer?

JIM: Oh, very little! No. Look, I feel like when we made the pilot, when we shot the pilot, two main things happened. The first was that I was able to interact with Iain a lot and kind of discuss certain things that are peculiar to this character. And whether it was just lines or moments in general or Sheldon's take on the world, you know, it's an interesting topic for us to go over together. Through that, though, I have to tell you that it was a very moving experience to me to see something that I've put in a decade of my life toward. In the same way that we're mining the writing for what they've been putting in for those ten years, it was very moving for me to see this machine take off that's related to all that.

Chuck, is the single camera comedy a substantial adjustment for you at all, or are you completely accustomed to the single cam now?

CHUCK: I'm a nervous wreck. It's an entirely different animal. It's a wholly different way to tell a story, and the working process is very different. It's much slower, you know. But the end result is something to be proud of, really. I love the pilot.

STEVEN: I think we marvelled at the first family dinner scene in the pilot. In the time it took us to shoot that, we could have shot two episodes of "Big Bang Theory" in front of an audience. Like, wow. Just one scene, okay.

Why did you decide to do a different format for Young Sheldon?

CHUCK: It's more intimate. The pacing, obviously, is very different. The actors aren't having to hold for laughs. They're not playing to the proscenium. They're working with one another. You know, a four camera show is played like a theatrical presentation. They're playing to the audience, and it changes the tone and the pitch and the pacing. And also, we knew going in that we were going to be working with a cast of young children, and it seemed like the more appropriate way for them to get the best work, to do the best work, was in a closed setting where they had the time to develop these characters.

Could you discuss Iain’s casting? What prompted you to cast him?

CHUCK: Well, I've been working with Nikki Valco and Ken Miller for over 20 years, and they're astonishing. They brought Jim to read for The Big Bang Theory 11 years ago. And one of the first things they did when we wrote the script was… actually, even before we wrote the script, we wrote some test sides, right?

CHUCK: And they sent us a video, a home video, right? Iain, did you do that in your home?

IAIN: Well, actually, it was in Georgia at Christmas, because I always go to Georgia for Christmas.

JIM: Whose house was it?

IAIN: My grandma's house.

JIM: Your grandma's house?

IAIN: My meemaw.

CHUCK: Was your mom holding a phone or something? Was it on a phone?

IAIN: Yes. My mom was actually holding the phone.

CHUCK: It was a home video on an iPhone.

STEVEN: He made us laugh.

CHUCK: We laughed. We looked at it and went, "Oh my God. We can't possibly be this lucky." He was just spectacular.

JIM: Astonishingly good, he really was.

Iain, did you watch ‘Big Bang Theory’ much before you got the role?

IAIN: Well, I don't want that much TV anyway, but it is aimed at a different audience than me! Usually, I occupy my time by reading books and playing a lot. I love doing that. I don't like video games. I love stuffed animals. And I love being around people.

Jim, when you first met Iain, how did that go?

IAIN: This is going to be good!

JIM: It's nothing but good! My first meeting was when, after we had seen the audition, he was invited in. Me and Chuck and Steve met in Chuck's office with him and his mother, Lee, and I felt very quiet because I didn't know what… this is very new for me, to see actors on the other side of anything, even a young actor. I don't want to get in their way in a weird way. So I kind of felt huddled in the corner of the couch for a while, and Iain was just… you came in, and you were just like you are, which is very open and receptive…

IAIN: Ah, thank you.

JIM PARSONS: …and excited to see people. And he talked with us. Then we went over, and we recorded him on video in a more official way to send, I guess, to CBS or whatever it was. And he was wonderful. He was wonderful

Steven, what will we learn about Sheldon that we didn't find out on The Big Bang Theory?

STEVEN: We have an opportunity to look at Sheldon as an adult and think about the origins of how he came to be. When we came up on the pilot, he doesn't even like comic books yet. He likes to go to church with his mom even though he doesn't share her views. So there's a bit of a joy of discovery about Sheldon at nine that we've been having a lot of fun with.

CHUCK: The part of the fun of writing the series was not just to watch how Sheldon develops but to see how his family has to adapt. Everybody in the family is affected by having a child who is remarkable, and they all have to adapt, and their lives have to change in order to accommodate him, and that was interesting for us to write about. We touched on it a little bit in the pilot, but it's something we are going to do more of.

STEVEN: Yeah. I think you can look at any character in that house, and their relationship with Sheldon and their backstory and the story of their character is as interesting as Sheldon's.

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