‘I was doing what I had to do’

Jim Parsons as Michael and Ben Aldridge as Kit in Spoiler Alert.  (Photo by: Linda Kallerus/Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Jim Parsons as Michael and Ben Aldridge as Kit Spoiler alert. (Photo by: Linda Kallerus/Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Earlier this year, Universal backed it up Siblings hoped to go where no major studio comedy had gone before, becoming the first LGBTQ romantic comedy starring two gay actors – Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane – to top the box office charts. Despite critical acclaim and sold-out showings at the Toronto International Film Festival, however, the film had to settle for fourth place during its opening weekend and an overall gross of just under $15 million.

Eichner, who also wrote the film, didn’t hesitate to express his disappointment in interviews and on social media. In a since-deleted Twitter post, he suggested that “straight people … just didn’t show up for Siblings,” potentially contributing to the film’s financial woes. (Some conservative commentators have made similar arguments after Walt Disney’s new animated adventure, Strange world — which featured gay comedian, Jaboukie Young-White, as the company’s first gay teenager — underperformed in its opening weekend, costing Disney over $100 million.)

Flash-forward a few months, and Universal’s specialty label, Focus Features, is releasing its own LGBTQ romance with no gay actors featured: Spoiler alertproduced and starring ex Big Bang Theory starring Jim Parsons. Based on the memoir of broadcaster Michael Ausiello, the film has a very different tone than the proudly raunchy R-rated Siblingswhich tells the story of Ausiello’s romance with her husband, Kit Cowan (played by Ben Aldridge), from their first meeting in 2002 to Cowan’s death from cancer in 2015. It’s a sweet, funny and sad love story in the tradition of past heteronormative hits like…well, Love storywith a pinch of Terms of Endearment launched through the presence of Kit’s doting parents, played by Bill Irwin and Sally Field.

Asked if he’s worried Spoiler alert meeting the same fate as Siblings as it launches in theaters, Parsons is understandably reluctant to see either film as part of a larger trend around the types of LGBTQ-themed stories mainstream audiences will or won’t see.

“I certainly hope [they see it] for the sake of the movie,” he tells Yahoo Entertainment. “But there are so many factors involved in why people go to see something or not. I would have no faith in fixing the sexual orientation of the characters on the success or failure of it. It’s a mystery why people come out about things or don’t very often; I don’t know if the homosexual aspect has much to do with it or not.”

For his part, Parsons says he was particularly drawn to it Spoiler alert because it offered him the opportunity to portray one half of a gay couple no get to experience a picture-perfect “happily ever after” story. Even before Kit’s cancer diagnosis, he and Michael have a sometimes tumultuous romance that includes secret affairs and even separate living arrangements.

“It shows a very realistic view of what it’s like to live a life together,” notes the Emmy-winning actor, who married his longtime partner, Todd Spiewak, in 2017. “I feel like I’ve been through so much It’s been my life to see movies that depict that, but aren’t normally about a gay couple. Both as a viewer, but especially as an actor, the ability to be a part of these scenes with these subtle complications has been truly gratifying at times.”

“And having that experience with Ben, another gay actor, was an even more profound experience than I expected,” Parsons continues. “I am very happy that at the heart of this film is a relationship that has lasted a long time and goes through so many machinations.”

Aldridge and Parsons in a scene from Spoiler Alert.  (Photo: ©Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Aldridge and Parsons in a scene from Spoiler alert. (Photo: ©Focus Features/Courtesy Everett Collection)

Parsons also has experience in grieving the loss of a loved one that he was able to draw on for the most tragic parts of Michael’s story. (In addition to losing Kit, Ausiello’s mother and father both died while he was still a child.) In 2001, the actor’s father died suddenly in a car accident, and that experience shaped his interest in the stories that directly struggle with mortality.

“I have the knowledge that we will all leave eventually,” he reflects. “Part of that is just who I am, but I think it’s also influenced by losing my father at a young age – I was 20 when he died. You can’t help but have a different outlook on life when you’ve lost people that were so close to you. Even if you live a long life, you always know that it’s a limited time you have here.”

Based on her experience with grief, Parsons says she still makes a point of reaching out to friends and family whenever they lose someone. “I remember the feeling of every person I saw and connected with or reached out to me after I lost my father,” he says. “I could really feel the specific place in my heart that person held. It wasn’t a wash of friends, and it wasn’t a wash of condolences — it was all very specific. One wouldn’t want to go around quite always so sensitive, but it was a beautiful snapshot of a moment when I felt that kind of clarity.”

“The other thing is, don’t let anyone tell you how to suffer,” adds Parsons. “I tell a lot of people that I’ve shed a lot more tears over my dog’s death than over my dad! And this is not a comment on my feelings for my dad. Until it happens, you never know how it’s going to affect you, and you have to try to make room for that.”

Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons in an episode of The Big Bang Theory.  (Photo: ©CBS/courtesy Everett Collection)

Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons in an episode of The Big Bang Theory. (Photo: ©CBS/Courtesy of Everett Collection)

Meanwhile, Big Bang Theory Fans still mourning the end of the hit CBS sitcom were surprised to learn how Parsons directly impacted the producers’ decision to end the show after its 12th season in 2019. Jessica Radloff’s recent oral history , The Big Bang Theory: The Definitive, Inside Story of the Epic Hitrecounted how things played out behind the scenes, including that Parsons’ choice to walk away from the show apparently “blindsided” her co-stars, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco.

“We cried for hours,” Cuoco said in the book of the fateful meeting where Parsons announced his departure, and the producers subsequently announced the end of the show. “We thought we were going to make it another year, then suddenly your life flashes before your eyes.” Added Galecki: “I didn’t agree on how it was handled. We thought we were going to Chuck’s office to talk renegotiations, and then Chuck handed the baton to Jim. And Jim was shocked and obviously taken aback.” .

Reflecting on the bumpy circumstances surrounding her departure now, Parsons says she “feels good” about how she’s coped with her decision to leave the series. “It’s never nice to know that you did something that even accidentally made someone angry or feel bad,” she notes of her co-star’s remarks in Radloff’s book. “But I was doing what I had to do, and that was the best way for me to handle it. To be honest, we weren’t the kind of group I felt I needed to have a team meeting like that.”

Parsons also reiterates that he had no idea at the time that his choice would lead to the show’s conclusion. “I can’t say I was surprised, but equally I wouldn’t have been surprised if he had moved on,” he admits. “There was a part of me that had a sense of joy that it could go on without me! But that’s not what happened.”

Spoiler alert it’s playing in theaters now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *