There’s a lot of funny business going on in Burbank on Stage 12 at Warner Bros. Studios where the hit sitcom “Young Sheldon” films. It is the number one new show of the season, and the spin-off of the mega hit “The Big Bang Theory” (now in its 11th season), has already been renewed for a second season on CBS.
The TV writers attending the current 2018 Winter Television Critics Association Press Tour got to visit the set and interview Young Sheldon’s successful creative team which includes co-creators and executive producers Chuck Lorre and Steve Molaro. The series is from Chuck Lorre Productions and Warner Bros. Television.
Plus, executive producer Jim Parsons was on hand to talk about narrating the comedy that focuses on his The Big Bang Theory character Sheldon Cooper growing up in Texas as a young genius who doesn’t fit in.
The real star of the interview session was adorable 9-year-old Iain Armitage who plays the title character with such maturity and craftsmanship that you’d think he is a young genius, but Iain claimed he is not. “Sheldon’s this incredible smart kid, and I’m not. I love that he’s smart, obviously. He is an interesting character, and not exactly hard to play, but he isn’t easy, either. You kind of have to think totally differently.” And Iain revealed that when he needs help understanding the character he turns to Jim Parsons to coach him. Iain said, “He helps me with a lot of it, kind of putting me in the mind set.”
Surrounding Iain is a wonderful cast that also shines with their great characters. Zoe Perry plays Mary his mom, and is the real-life daughter of Laurie Metcalf who plays the older Sheldon’s mother on The Big Bang Theory. Lance Barber plays young Sheldon’s dad George Sr., Montana Jordan his brother George Jr., Raegan Revord his sister Missy and Annie Potts his grandma Meemaw.
Offering terrific insight, Iain told this reporter about the challenges of playing his role. “It’s kind of like a maze, that you know how to get to the end, but it all kind of looks the same. So, you still have to navigate, even though you know how to get to the end.”
Although he thinks his character is interesting, when I asked Iain if he thought he would be a good buddy to young Sheldon, Iain begged off with, “Not exactly a buddy, that isn’t the exact term I would use, but he would be a very interesting friend. I can see myself being friends with him.”
Parsons has become Iain’s friend, and gives his young doppelganger high praise. Jim said, “The reason Iain’s playing this part is that from the very start he understands what he’s reading as soon as he reads it. Even maybe when you don’t think you do, but some little spirit inside you does, because that’s what comes out. The conversations we had (about acting) were more like Sheldon’s peculiar view of the world and how unnatural that could be. A good example is when Sheldon doesn’t understand why something is funny. He doesn’t get sarcasm. That can take a minute, but once Iain hears that, it sails on and he understands it, so he’s doing great.”
Being on a successful show is a gift, and Iain understands that. When he heard about the pick-up for a second season, he said, “The present that I got was feeling super happy for everyone, and being happy for myself, and jumping up and down a bunch.”
Iain was also part of the cast of HBO’s Big Little Lies which just won a Golden Globe for best limited series. So, with all that success under his belt at 9-years-old, does Iain think Hollywood is really like this all the time? “I hope,” he said with his award-winning smile. “I hope everything I’m in is great.”
Young Sheldon is a show as smart as its young star. Tune in.
Margie Barron is a member of the Television Critics Association and has written for a variety of top publications for more than 35 years, and was proud to be half of the husband and wife writing team of Margie and Frank Barron.