Jim Parson's 12 years as Sheldon Cooper on "The Big Bang Theory" mean he definitely has expert opinions on how to most accurately play the character. Fortunately, he has a ton of respect for Iain Armitage, who plays a younger version of the character on "Young Sheldon." During a 2014 appearance on "Today," Parsons claimed that it was "surprisingly easy" to play Sheldon Cooper, the anti-social Einstein-level scientist. He also complimented the writing team, although most of his ease came through understanding "what it is to feel outsidery." He continued, "But if you're just willing to access that and tap into that, it's not hard at all to feel like 'no one understands me,'" he added.
Although "The Big Bang Theory" ended in 2019, "Young Sheldon" has allowed viewers to invest themselves in Sheldon's earlier years. Parson is one of the show's executive producers — alongside the original team of "Big Bang" showrunners — which premiered two years before "TBBT." In fact, Parsons actually came up with the premise, which he pitched to his bosses, while attempting to create an original scripted series, according to Entertainment Tonight. But while "Young Sheldon" may not have existed without Parson's initial idea, Armitage's performance has also helped it become CBS's highest-rated show this past spring, per the Los Angeles Times. Not only does Parsons agree, but he may be Armitage's biggest fan of all.
There's never been any doubt as to whether or not Jim Parsons approved of Iain Armitage landing the starring role on "Young Sheldon." In 2017, Parsons explained that Armitage's performance impacted him early on. "Watching Iain bring this young version of this character to life that I've been working on for a decade of my own life, it was really moving," shared Parsons during an Entertainment Weekly interview. "I felt such a sympathy for this little guy. It was kind of mind-blowing to see him brought to life through Iain."
Armitage also made a great impression during the audition phase. "We saw lots and lots of tapes and we saw lots of auditions and there's something about Iain that just popped immediately," said Parsons to Entertainment Tonight in 2017. "There was no denying it as soon as you saw his face and he handles the language well and he memorizes easily, and the biggest thing of all is he's just an excellent actor." Parsons also gave the then-9-year-old the best compliment. "I don't know how someone so young acts so well," added Parsons. "I didn't when I was his age, but he does."
Iain Armitage holds a pretty high opinion of Jim Parsons as well. During a 2018 interview with Metro UK, Armitage called Parsons "awesome" as he shared how the original Sheldon Cooper was helping him create his version of the character. "He is my coach so he's awesome!" said Armitage. "We get along very well. What I've learned from him, he kind of helps me get into the mindset of Sheldon. I mean, a lot of the stuff he taught me was like a year/year and a half ago so my brain just absorbed it and now it's easier to get into Sheldon so it's not so much something to think about."
The "Young Sheldon" star has also used some of his free time to soak up Parsons' talents via other roles. In December 2022, Armitage posted about seeing "Spoiler Alert," where Parsons stars as journalist Michael Ausiello, whose memoir, "Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies," was adapted to create the film's heartbreaking plot. "Today I got to see @therealjimparsons in @spoileralertthefilm — it was terrific and he was wonderful it in," wrote Armitage on Instagram. "Everyone was. I don't know what I was expecting but I wasn't expecting my heart to get ripped out in that incredible way movies have of getting you really invested in the stories of people you don't even know. Oh and it's based on a real story, which broke my heart even more. Let me know when you see it!"