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Jim Parsons Recalled His ‘HIMYM’ Audition: “Ignore That Script”

Key Points: 

  • Jim Parsons auditioned multiple times for the role of Barney on How I Met Your Mother before it went to Neil Patrick Harris
  • Parsons was skeptical of the “big lug” character description for Barney that didn’t fit him at all
  • His advice is to ignore limiting characterizations in auditions and just do what you want with the material

Jim Parsons Ignored “Big Lug” Description in Auditioning for Barney on HIMYM

Jim Parson in The Big Bang Theory
Jim Parson in The Big Bang Theory

Long before bringing Sheldon Cooper to life as the iconic lead of The Big Bang Theory, Jim Parsons was just another working actor going through the audition grind. In one particular instance, Parsons recalls being considered for the role of Barney Stinson on the hit CBS comedy How I Met Your Mother despite having reservations about the character’s description.

Why Jim Parsons Was Skeptical About the Barney Role on HIMYM

Jim Parsons in The Big Bang Theory
Jim Parsons in The Big Bang Theory

As detailed in the book The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story, Parsons made it to multiple audition rounds for the role of Barney that ultimately went to Neil Patrick Harris. However, he went into it with doubts.

“I didn’t want to audition for it because they described him in the casting breakdown as a ‘big lug of a guy,'” Parsons stated. “I was like, what are they f***ing thinking?! I’m not a big lug of a guy!”

Parsons admits he learned an important lesson in having an open mind once Harris was cast as the smooth-talking ladies’ man despite also not fitting that physical portrayal.

“I thought, don’t read that crap in the breakdown anymore,” Parsons advised actors. “Just forget all of that. Go in and do what you want to do with the material.”

READ MORE: Johnny Depp Shares How He Outperformed Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, and Michael Jackson for ‘Edward Scissorhands’

Ignoring the Audition Script’s Limits Paid Off for Parsons as Sheldon

Jim Parson in The Big Bang Theory
Jim Parson in The Big Bang Theory

Perhaps taking his own advice to simply put his own spin on the role, Parsons would go on to land what became his star-making turn as the intellectually brilliant but emotionally stunted theoretical physicist Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory just a year later.

Had Parsons rigidly stuck to the “big lug” description of Barney and not pursued that opportunity as a result, not only could he have missed out on How I Met Your Mother, but his career-defining role on The Big Bang Theory may never have happened either.

READ MORE: Kaley Cuoco Nearly Lost Her Leg During ‘The Big Bang Theory’ Mid-Season

Both The Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother are available to stream now on Max.

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