The CBS comedy "Young Sheldon" has become as popular as the show it was spun-off from, "The Big Bang Theory." People say it is the incredible performance by lead actor Iain Armitage, who plays the titular character. Others think it has to do with actor Jim Parsons, who originally played Sheldon on "The Big Bang Theory" and who narrates Sheldon's young life, acting as a guiding hand in his role as an executive producer that the show is so successful. In reality, there are many reasons behind the show's success and a lot has to do with the show's cast.
"Young Sheldon" follows the titular character's childhood in his home state of Texas, as he approaches his teenage years. In the series, Sheldon is played by twelve-year-old actor, Iain Armitage. At the heart of the show is Sheldon's relationship with his non-genius family, and how he struggles to fit into his family as well as at school.
Iain Armitage could be considered a child prodigy as well, no? He has been acting professionally since he was eight-years-old, and first gained prominence on another hit TV show, "Big Little Lies," where he played the son of Shailene Woodley's character. But even before he was a recognized actor, young Iain was famous for something completely different.
Iain first came to be well-known for his YouTube reviews of Broadway shows. His channel IainLovesTheatre gained a huge following - close to 20K subscribers - for the precocious youngster's spot-on reviews of major Broadway productions. He made hundreds of videos over eight years starting when he was only four years old.
Iain was born in 2008 to actor Euan Morton and theatre producer Lee Armitage, who is the daughter of former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Iain, his parents have stated, was named after British actor Ian McKellen, who even appeared on one of his namesake's Broadway review videos.
Having been born into the theatre, there was nothing else that young Iain was interested in pursuing. Along with starring on "Young Sheldon," which is currently in the top five broadcast TV shows in America, Iain has already, at just twelve-years-old, shared the screen with Hollywood heavyweights Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, and Jane Fonda. There is nowhere to go but up for young Iain.
On the show, as in real life, Sheldon is very close to his mother, Mary, played by actress Zoe Perry. The two share a close bond despite Sheldon's genius-level intellect and Mary's devout born-again Christian faith. Mary loves all her children on the show and is the first to be their defender whenever they are faced with a problem. But there is an interesting connection between the actress who plays Young Sheldon's mother and the actress who played Mary on "The Big Bang Theory."
Zoe Perry is the actress that plays young Mary Cooper on "Young Sheldon." It is fitting that she got the part since her mother, actor Laurie Metcalf played the older version of Mary on the original show. Laurie Metcalf is best known for her other matriarchal roles on "Roseanne" as Aunt Becky or, more recently, as Marion McPherson in the 2018 dramedy "Lady Bird" for which she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
Despite her mother originating the character and playing the role to much acclaim (Laurie Metcalf was nominated for an Emmy for playing the role of Mary Cooper), Zoe Perry did not have an easy time getting the part in "Young Sheldon." Even knowing the series creator and producer Chuck Lorre since she was very young, she still had to go in and audition like everyone else.
In the original show, "The Big Bang Theory," we never got to see Sheldon's father, George Cooper Sr. It was explained that the patriarch of the Cooper clan had died and was only talked about on the show, often in negative terms. Older Sheldon described his father as a difficult person who cheated on his mother. Except, in "Young Sheldon," his parents have quite a different relationship, perhaps thanks to this actor's performance.
While he can't take all the credit for this softer version of George Cooper Sr., actor Lance Barber does give the mysterious - up until now - character a softer, kinder edge. George Cooper Sr. is a high-school football coach who does not necessarily connect with his genius son. But rather than having the difficult relationship described in "TBBT," George Cooper Sr. has a very conventional, but loving, TV-dad relationship with his on-screen family.
Maybe it's because he is a father in real-life to two kids, Lance doesn't find it hard to play one on TV as well. He certainly does bring a lot of affection and charm to the character, even though George Cooper Sr. was always described otherwise. Lance, however, was fully aware that taking on the role of Sheldon's father would end eventually as, according to the timeline established by "TBBT," he dies when Sheldon is fourteen-years-old.
The one family member that Sheldon, both young and old, absolutely adores is his grandmother, aka Meemaw, aka Connie Tucker. Like with the other characters on "Young Sheldon," Meemaw has two versions. The first version, and which fans of "TBBT' already know, is played by actress June Squibb. The character did not make an appearance until season nine of the show, although she is one of the main characters on "Young Sheldon."
While June Squibb plays Meemaw as a grandmother well into old age, veteran character actor Annie Potts, perhaps best known for her roles in "Ghostbusters," the "Toy Story" franchise, and her decades of TV work, plays Meemaw as a much younger person. Meemaw is also recently widowed on the show, but still lives on her own and often comes to babysit the Cooper kids whenever she is needed.
George Cooper Jr., Sheldon's brother, was not seen on "TBBT" until the twenty-third season of the show, so he is a pretty undeveloped character. This gave actor Montana Jordan a lot of room to play the character how he wants. The role is Montana's first acting gig, and he had to leave public school to be home-schooled and take the part. Montana, despite his name, is also one of the only cast members to be from Texas, where the show takes place.
Missy Cooper made several appearances on "TBBT" as she is Sheldon's fraternal twin, even though they are very much not alike. Missy has a higher emotional intelligence quotient than her brother, who has difficulty socializing and making friends. Missy is played by Raegan Revord, who is the same age as her co-star Iain Armitage. The similarity in age turned the young actors into friends off-screen - they are both vegetarians - which helps their performance on-screen when they play siblings.
What are your favorite moments from "Young Sheldon"? What did you find out about the cast of "Young Sheldon" that you didn't know before? Was there someone that you wanted to learn about more? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. "Young Sheldon" has only been on-the-air for three seasons, but it is already getting the same buzz as "TBBT" got when it first premiered back in 2007 when Iain Armitage wasn't even born. The show has gotten rave reviews and continues strong in the ratings, probably because of the talent and likability of all the main cast members.