EXCLUSIVE: Jim Parsons says 'Young Sheldon' star Iain Armitage is 'inspirational to watch'


Jim Parsons and Young Sheldon star Iain Armitage are like two peas in a pod.

The actors play the same character, Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory, just 30 years apart. Parsons has played the part for 10 seasons now, while Armitage is taking on the character's origin story in CBS' new sitcom this fall. ET's Nichelle Turner spoke with the two during the summer Television Critics Association press tour, where they had nothing but great things to say about each other.

RELATED: First Look at 'Big Bang Theory' Spinoff 'Young Sheldon' -- See the Pics!

Parsons and Armitage have been spending a lot of time together while filming the new series -- on which Parsons serves as an executive producer -- including seeing a performance of the Broadway musical Come From Away in New York in May.

"You had so many more people recognize you in the theater than recognized me," the 44-year-old actor told his mini-me. "They love you there."

"Not true," Armitage chimed in, but Parsons insisted. "That is true. And it's not just because you wore tap shoes and they could hear you coming."

RELATED: Will 'Young Sheldon' Have a 'Big Bang' Crossover? Plus, Why a Family Tragedy Won't Be a Big Mystery

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Jim Parsons out and about
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Jim Parsons out and about
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE WITH ANDY COHEN -- Pictured: Jim Parsons -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE WITH ANDY COHEN -- Pictured (l-r): Diane Lane and Jim Parsons -- (Photo by: Charles Sykes/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 03: Actor Jim Parsons is seen on May 3, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Patricia Schlein/Star Max/GC Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Jim Parsons arrives at the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Actor Jim Parsons attends Vanity Fair and Genesis Celebrate 'Hidden Figures' on February 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 24: Actors Jim Parsons (L) and Taraji P. Henson attend Vanity Fair and Genesis Celebrate 'Hidden Figures' on February 24, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29: Actor Jim Parsons attends People And EIF's Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards Gala at The Shrine Auditorium on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for People Magazine)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 20: Actor Jim Parsons visits New York for the premiere of his weekly talk show 'Jim Parsons is Too Stupid for Politics' exclusively on SiriusXM Radio Andy channel 102 at SiriusXM Studios on January 20, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 29: Jim Parsons poses at the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Expo Hall on January 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS -- Episode 475 -- Pictured: (l-r) Actor Jim Parsons during an interview with host Seth Meyers on January 19, 2017 -- (Photo by: Lloyd Bishop/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
PALM SPRINGS, CA - JANUARY 03: Actor Jim Parsons arrives for Variety's celebration of '10 Directors To Watch' and Creative Impact Awards at Parker Palm Springs on January 3, 2017 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by Tara Ziemba/Getty Images)
PALM SPRINGS, CA - JANUARY 02: Jim Parsons arrives at the 28th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Film Awards Gala at Palm Springs Convention Center on January 2, 2017 in Palm Springs, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
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The idea for Young Sheldon came about while Parsons was working with husband Todd Spiewak, his "partner in life" and partner in his production company.

"We had been asked by [CBS] executives, 'Would you look into your own life? Because those pitch well,'" Parsons explained. "So we were looking at my family and one of my nephews, my sister's kids, her oldest, he's very smart. Not like in a Sheldon way, but they frequently say, 'Where did he come from?' So we were like, this sounds like a good idea. And the more we talked -- they're in Texas -- and it was, like, this relates."

"I mean, you could be talking about a young Sheldon here," he continued. "So I wrote Chuck [Lorre] and was like, 'Listen we have this idea. It also sounds like this. If this interests you and you want to look into this together, let's chat. If not, we can go on our merry way and change it enough that it doesn't relate as much.' But Chuck loved it and Steve Molaro loved it. And what they've done with it, in making it a single cam, and the way that they've opened this up, it's beautiful -- even more than I could have dreamed of."

RELATED: Jim Parsons Goes to the Theater With 'Young Sheldon' Actor Iain Armitage

TV viewers first got a real glimpse at the 9-year-old Armitage starring as Shailene Woodley's son, Ziggy, in the Emmy-nominated HBO drama, Big Little Lies.

"So is that like, in your contracts? I only work with Oscar winners and big time actors?" Turner asked Armitage.

"Yeah, it's actually on page 29, section B," he joked. "No, I'm just kidding. I've just gotten really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really lucky."

So how did the 9-year-old rising star land the role?

"On tape. He taped himself," Parsons shared. "His mother taped him at his grandmother's house over Christmas. Chuck and Steve wrote this ridiculously long, complicated monologue, which was not in the script. I think it was kind of a trial by fire thing -- we don't know if we're going to write this long for this character, but they need to be prepared for it."

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‘The Big Bang Theory’ cast's salary per episode
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‘The Big Bang Theory’ cast's salary per episode

Kaley Cuoco Salary: $1 Million Per Episode

On “The Big Bang Theory,” Kaley Cuoco is Penny Hofstadter, wife of Leonard. Currently a pharmaceutical sales rep, Penny moved to Los Angeles to become an actress, but never got her career in show business off the ground.

Cuoco is one of the highest-paid actresses on television, behind only Sophia Vergara of “Modern Family,” reported Forbes. Cuoco has a net worth of $45 million. Since season eight, she has earned $1 million per episode of “The Big Bang Theory” to play Penny, a leap from her previous salary of $350,000, reported Deadline.com. Additionally, her work on the show has earned her a Critics’ Choice Award and a People’s Choice Award.

Unlike Penny, Cuoco found success in acting at a young age. At present, she has nearly five dozen acting credits to her name, dating back to the 1992 TV movie “Quicksand: No Escape.” Some of her most noteworthy roles include playing Bridget Hennessy on the series “8 Simple Rules” and starring as Gretchen Palmer in “The Wedding Ringer.”

Jim Parsons Salary: $1 Million Per Episode

Jim Parsons is Dr. Sheldon Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory.” A theoretical physicist who enrolled in college at the age of 11, Sheldon finds himself to be the perfect human, but his seriously eccentric personality makes him a bit difficult for others to handle. In the Oct. 10 episode of season 10, Sheldon finally decides to move in with long-time girlfriend Amy.

Playing the role of Sheldon has proven incredibly lucrative for Parsons, as he’s been banking $1 million per episode since season eight. His current salary is nearly three times the $350,000 he was earning prior to his contract negotiation, bringing his net worth to $70 million. Beyond monetary gains from the show, he also won a Golden Globe and four Primetime Emmys for his work on “The Big Bang Theory.”

Sheldon is the biggest role Parsons has ever played, but it’s certainly not the only one. He previously appeared on the series “Judging Amy,” lent his voice for Oh in the animated film “Home” and appeared in “Wish I Was Here,” among other projects.

Johnny Galecki Salary: $1 Million Per Episode

Penny’s husband, Dr. Leonard Hofstadter is played by Johnny Galecki. Best friend and former roommate of Sheldon, Leonard is a bit less socially awkward than the rest of his geeky pals and constantly finds himself stuck explaining Sheldon’s peculiar behavior.

Galecki earns $1 million per episode for his work as Leonard on “The Big Bang Theory.” Along with Cuoco and Parsons, he renegotiated his salary to its current rate from $350,000 prior to season eight. In total, Galecki’s net worth is $50 million.

Since starting his career as a child actor in 1987, Galecki has achieved major success. Besides “The Big Bang Theory,” he’s best known for his long-time role as David Healy on the series “Roseanne.” He also starred as Rusty in the cult classic “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and the horror film “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”

Simon Helberg Salary: $750,000 Per Episode

Howard Wolowitz is played by Simon Helberg. Prior to settling down with his now-wife Bernadette Rostenkowski, the aerospace engineer considered himself to be quite the ladies’ man. Until she passed away in season eight, Howard had a seriously overbearing mother who tried to control him.

Helberg’s net worth is $45 million, and he earns around $750,000 per episode of the CBS sitcom, reported Deadline. In addition to serious monetary gains, he also won a Critics’ Choice Award for his portrayal of Howard and has received numerous Screen Actors Guild Award nods.

Beyond his work on “The Big Bang Theory,” Helberg recently starred in the film “Florence Foster Jenkins.” He also has a recurring role voicing the character Bian Zao on the series “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness” and appeared in the films “Van Wilder: Party Liaison” and “Old School.”

Kunal Nayyar Salary: $750,000 Per Episode

Better known as “Raj,” Kunal Nayyar is Dr. Rajesh Ramayan Koothrappali on “The Big Bang Theory.” For the first six seasons of the show, the astrophysicist suffered from the social anxiety disorder selective mutism, which made it impossible for him to talk to women he wasn’t related to.

Nayyar is paid a salary of about $750,000 per episode to play Raj, which has brought the actor’s net worth to $45 million. “The Big Bang Theory” has proven to be a lucky break for the actor — he picked up the role just a few years into his career.

Lately, Nayyar has been keeping a busy schedule. In addition to his obligations for “The Big Bang Theory,” he’s been lending his voice to a number of animated roles, including Vijay Patel on the television series “Sanjay and Craig” and Dr. Pakij on “Fantasy Hospital” — in addition to Guy Diamond in the movie “Trolls.” Previously, he’s guest-starred on “The Mindy Project,” “Sullivan & Son” and “NCIS.”

Mayim Bialik Salary: $100,000 Per Episode

On “The Big Bang Theory,” Mayim Bialik is Dr. Amy Fowler, Sheldon’s girlfriend. A Harvard-educated neurobiologist, Fowler met Sheldon in the season three finale and has been dating him on-and-off ever since.

Bialik’s net worth is $12 million and she reportedly earns $100,000 per episode for playing the part of Amy, according to numerous media outlets. Earlier this year, the actress told the NY Daily News that she, Cuoco and other cast members were overpaid.

A seasoned actress, Bialik has been recognized with a Critics’ Choice Award and four Primetime Emmy nods for her work on “The Big Bang Theory.” She starred as Blossom Russo on the hit ’90s show “Blossom.” She’s also appeared on a number of television shows, including “7th Heaven,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.”

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Parsons admitted that producers saw "so many tapes" that "were all good in different ways," but he explained that Armitage's audition had something special.

"Iain's was mind-blowing in some ways. It's true," he said. "There was a naturalness with it and a spirit with it, and an understanding of what..."

"Now you're just being kind," interrupted Armitage.

"I am not kind. I'm a nice person but I'm not kind when it comes to those things. I would just not say anything if I didn't like it," Parsons insisted.

Throughout The Big Bang Theory's 10 seasons, Parsons' character has often spoken about his childhood and his upbringings. To created the storyline for Young Sheldon, the writers looked back at those episodes to see how they will incorporate those stories.

"I know they're doing that when they're writing it," Parsons told ET. "We did a panel today and Steve Molaro was talking about -- the two things he brought up, he brought up the uranium that Sheldon buys, and he brought up the Halloween where Sheldon made his sister push him around in [an] office chair! With a speaker thing attached to his chest so he could be Steven Hawking, but everybody thought he was R2D2."

For now, Armitage has just had a blast taking on the role, which Parsons calls "inspirational to watch."

"You are having fun and it's been really inspirational to watch," he told his young doppelganger. "There's just a way in which he's tackling all this that is so such fun and such joy of the process... You're a reminder to, I think, anybody who's been doing it for a while to [see] how much fun it is."

Young Sheldon premieres after The Big Bang Theory's season 11 return on Monday, Sept. 25 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT before debuting in its regular time slot Thursday, Nov. 2 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

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Big Bang Theory
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Big Bang Theory
LOS ANGELES - APRIL 19: 'The Line Substitution Solution' -- Pictured: Trevor (Blake Anderson), Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg) and Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar). Sheldon hires Stuart to spend the day with Amy when he'd rather go to a movie screening. Also, Leonard's mother, Beverly (Christine Baranski), comes to town and Penny struggles to make a connection with her, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, May 5 (8:00-8:31, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - APRIL 19: 'The Line Substitution Solution' -- Pictured: Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki), Stuart (Kevin Sussman) and Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg). Sheldon hires Stuart to spend the day with Amy when he'd rather go to a movie screening. Also, Leonard's mother, Beverly (Christine Baranski), comes to town and Penny struggles to make a connection with her, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, May 5 (8:00-8:31, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - APRIL 19: 'The Line Substitution Solution' -- Pictured: Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons), Howard Wolowitz (Simon Helberg), Rajesh Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar) and Leonard Hofstadter (Johnny Galecki). Sheldon hires Stuart to spend the day with Amy when he'd rather go to a movie screening. Also, Leonard's mother, Beverly (Christine Baranski), comes to town and Penny struggles to make a connection with her, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, May 5 (8:00-8:31, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Michael Yarish/CBS via Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 16: (L-R) Moderator Alie Ward, executive producers Chuck Lorre, Steven Molaro, Bill Prady, actors Mayim Bialik, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, and Kunal Nayyar attend The Paley Center For Media's 33rd Annual PALEYFEST Los Angeles ÃThe Big Bang Theory' at Dolby Theatre on March 16, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 09: (L-R) Actors Jim Parsons, Melissa Rauch, Kunal Nayyar, Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Mayim Bialik and Johnny Galecki perform onstage during the 24th and final 'A Night at Sardi's' to benefit the Alzheimer's Association at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images)
MUST SEE TV: AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE TO JAMES BURROWS -- Pictured: (l-r) Kaley Cuoco, Simon Helberg, Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons -- (Photo by: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 2: 'The Positive Negative Reaction' -- Bernadette is concerned when Wolowitz freaks out over her pregnancy announcement, and Wolowitz is convinced he must make more money to provide for the baby, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Feb. 18 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg, Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 19: 'The Valentino Submergence' -- Sheldon and Amy host a live Valentine's Day episode of Fun with Flags, Leonard and Penny grapple with getting older, Howard and Bernadette find a surprise in their hot tub and Raj is torn between Emily and the cute girl he met at the Comic Bookstore, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Feb. 11 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT), on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Johnny Galecki, Simon Helberg, Jim Parsons and Kunal Nayyar (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 8: 'The Celebration Experimentation' -- After more than nine years together, the gang finally celebrates Sheldon's birthday, surprising him with a special guest, on the 200th episode of THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Feb. 25 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Jim Parsons, Kunal Nayyar, Sara Gilbert, Kevin Sussman, Adam West, Simon Helberg, Melissa Rauch, John Ross Bowie, Wil Wheaton, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 2: 'The Positive Negative Reaction' -- Bernadette is concerned when Wolowitz freaks out over her pregnancy announcement, and Wolowitz is convinced he must make more money to provide for the baby, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Feb. 18 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar, Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 30: 'The Pulled Groin Extrapolation' -- Sheldon and Penny wonder how they'll get along when Leonard goes to a wedding as Amy's date. Meanwhile, Howard (Simon Helberg, left) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch, right) spend the weekend with Mrs. Wolowitz, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Sept. 29 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Richard Cartwright/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 23: 'The Workplace Proximity' -- Howard (Simon Helberg, left) finds himself sleeping on Raj'™s couch after a fight with Bernadette, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, Oct. 17 (8:00 -“ 8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Also pictured: Johnny Galecki (right) (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - APRIL 15: 'The Gorilla Dissolution' -- Howard (Simon Helberg, left) and Bernadette (Melissa Rauch, right) struggle to care for Mrs. Wolowitz, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Thursday, May 8 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 18: Kaley Cuoco is seen at 'Jimmy Kimmel Live' on September 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by RB/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Kaley Cuoco is seen in Los Angeles on September 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Kaley Cuoco is seen in Los Angeles on September 20, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Actress Kaley Cuoco (R) and husband Ryan Sweeting (L) attend HBO's 2014 Emmy after party at The Plaza at the Pacific Design Center on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Barry King/FilmMagic)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Rihanna, Steve Martin and Jim Parsons are all guests on 'Good Morning America,' 3/13/15, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25: Actress Kaley Cuoco arrives to the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images)
BURBANK - JULY 23: Gallery Promo Coverage of CBS' THE BIG BANG THEORY, scheduled to air on the CBS Television Network. Pictured: Simon Helberg as Howard Wolowitz. (Photo by Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - DECEMBER 18: Actress Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting arrives at The PEOPLE Magazine Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on December 18, 2014 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - MAY 18: CBS announces their new fall schedule. (Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS via Getty Images) *** CBS presented its 2016-17 prime time schedule today (May 18) at Carnegie Hall, where many of the Networks new and returning series stars were in attendance. Pictured L-R: Melissa Rauch, Mayim Bialik, Simon Helberg, Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons, and Johnny Galecki from THE BIG BANG THEORY *** Melissa Rauch;Mayim Bialik;Simon Helberg;Kaley Cuoco;Jim Parsons;Johnny Galecki
LOS ANGELES - SEPTEMBER 9: 'The Hook-Up Reverberation' -- Raj's honesty about his past comes back to haunt him after his girlfriend, Emily, is cold to Penny. Also, the guys consider becoming part-owners in Stuart's comic book store, on THE BIG BANG THEORY, Monday, Oct. 6 (8:00-8:31, ET/PT), on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Laura Spencer, Simon Helberg, Melissa Rauch, Mayim Bialik, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting (Photo by Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images)
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