Melissa Rauch has played Bernadette Rostenkowski on “Big Bang Theory” since 2009. As the show approaches its series finale, she reflects on her character’s …
“Big Bang Theory” actor Jim Parsons: “It seems unimaginable to be on set right now”
Jim Parsons is one of the meanest guys in Hollywood. Jim Parsons is one of the meanest guys in Hollywood. That can’t be true of the popular superstar from The Big Bang Theory. Alright: Jim Parsons plays one of the meanest guys in his new series “Hollywood” (on Netflix since May 1st). As artist agent Henry Willson, a power figure in show business in the 1940s, he builds good-looking men, who come from the provinces and hope for a film career, into stars. Like Rock Hudson, whom the likewise homosexual Willson forced to marry his secretary Phyllis Gates for appearances’ sake. Jim Parsons’ role in “Hollywood” begins with a shock scene: Willson confronts Hudson with the alternative of oral sex or being fired during his job interview …
Homosexual actors used to have a particularly hard time.
Jim Parsons: Yes, they lived with the fear of being outed. It was such a taboo that their career would have been over. You had no choice but to have sex in secret and pretend for the sake of your career. I can imagine how terribly lonely life was for those men and women. Just sad!
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How was the transition from the portrayal of the “Big Bang Theory” favourite to the disgusting Henry Willson in “Hollywood”?
It was liberating to go through the physical transformation in particular. I spent a lot of time in the make-up chair. I wore a bald wig, dentures and brown contact lenses every time I went in front of the camera.
Sheldon was sarcastic, but never obnoxious.
Yes, Henry, on the other hand, has done a lot of obnoxious things and a lot of people despise him for them. They see him as the devil and the worst part of their lives. I felt empathy for him. Much of his behavior was based on suppressing his sexuality and his desires.
When you were a young actor, did you get involved with people like Willson?
No, I never got involved with anyone as bad as Willson. Thank God I got jobs pretty quickly and didn’t get into any difficult situations. Looking back, I can see how lucky I was.
“Big Bang Theory” will go down in television history as one of the most successful sitcoms ever. How difficult is it to carry on when you were practically at the zenith?
You live and get older. And the older you get, the less you really worry about these things. I appreciate being given the chance to prove myself in new roles. Having new challenges and exploring other sides of myself is important to me.
When did you know that you wanted to become an actor?
After I went to the cinema with my family when I was ten and saw “Tootsie” with Dustin Hoffman. It was completely sold out and the atmosphere was wonderful. The way everyone around me laughed and just enjoyed the film made a deep impression on me.
A completely different question, since we are talking via video conference, where are you right now?
In New York. So not in the city, but in the state of New York in my house.
How do you see the situation?
We’re going through something that nobody saw coming. A lot of people have existential fears. And to me, the worst part of the whole situation is that none of us really know what’s gonna happen next. Even if we are allowed to leave our homes one day, it will still take a long time psychologically to process all this.
Hollywood is at a standstill right now…
… and nobody knows when we’ll be allowed to go back to work. It just seems to be unimaginable to stand on the set again or even to have to hug or kiss someone in one scene. I wish I knew when everything would be back to normal. But the short answer is: I have no goddamn idea!