TORONTO – He won an Emmy for playing the ultimate geek, but Jim Parsons says he couldn’t be further from his “Star Trek” and comics-obsessed character on “The Big Bang Theory.”
In fact, the lanky 37-year-old says none of the actors who depict the show’s stereotypical nerds knew much at all about the quirky passions that dominate the lives of their alter egos.
“(We know a bit about) ‘Lord of the Rings,’ ‘Star Wars’ and after that we all tend to drop off,” Parsons said Thursday during a promotional visit to Toronto with co-stars Simon Helberg (Howard) and Kunal Nayyar (Raj).
“It’s kind of funny to assemble four guys around our age, at least one of them normally is like, ‘I was totally into “Star Trek!”‘ or totally into comic books, whatever. We don’t have any of it between the four of us. I’ve learned everything I learned about ‘Star Trek’ from ‘Big Bang Theory.’ “
That ignorance has landed Parsons into trouble, he admits.
Parsons’ character Sheldon is such a Spock fan that he once boasted that Leonard Nimoy had a restraining order against him.
But Parsons notes that when he tried to portray Sheldon offering up a Vulcan salute, his poorly executed attempt angered one viewer so much they wrote a letter complaining about his hand formation.
“I still don’t know — do I put the finger there or finger there? I don’t know, honestly,” he said bewildered, wondering whether to extend his thumb or keep it close to the side of the palm.
Helberg said he couldn’t even do the salute, holding up a curved palm and awkwardly outstretched fingers to demonstrate.
“We did it in the show and I faked it and I tried to kind of hide it,” says Helberg.
The trio met with reporters before being greeted by more than 1,000 fans at CTV studios in downtown Toronto. Absent was co-star Johnny Galecki, who plays Sheldon’s nasal-voiced roommate Leonard.
The U.S. show — about a pair of genius physicists and their nerdy friends — consistently dominates the ratings on both side of the border.
In Canada, their fans include the Royal Canadian Institute for the Advancement of Science, which awarded an honorary membership to the show’s co-creators Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady on Thursday. Parsons, Helberg and Nayyar were to accept the award on their behalf.
Helberg and Nayyar suggest the secret to the show’s success north of the border is the inherent Canadian-ness of its geeky characters.
Their nerdy onscreen personas, they note, are smart, polite guys just like many of their Canuck fans.
“Canadians have a very lovely demeanour and I think these guys are also really nice guys, they’re nice people,” Nayyar said.
“And this is a culture that emulates all of that — they’re smart and polite and kind and … so I think that’s why they connect.”
The trio said they were looking forward to going to a Maple Leafs game Thursday night, but Helberg admitted to inadvertently igniting a hockey firestorm earlier in the day.
He says he tweeted a photo of a Leafs jersey he was given with his name on the back, and that sent ardent hockey fans protesting on behalf of their beloved teams.
“I tweeted a picture of the jersey (saying): ‘Guess where I am!’ and everyone was like, ‘Oh my god! …. How dare you! Go Habs!’ or whatever.”
Nayyar and Helberg said “Big Bang” fans can expect to see a host of special guest stars this season, including George Takei, Wil Wheaton, Mayim Bialik, Eliza Dushku and Katee Sackhoff.
Nayyar said Kaley Cuoco, who broke her leg in a recent horse-riding accident, was expected to resume her role as Penny after a two-episode absence.
“They’re going to shoot around (the broken leg), that’s what we’ve heard. But again, all this is subject to change,” said Nayyar.
“Big Bang Theory” airs Thursdays on CTV.