By the winter of 2011 Mr. Parsons had won his first Emmy for “Big Bang” and was midway through Season 4 when he felt he was “spinning my wheels” as an actor, and began looking to do a play again. He landed the role of Tommy Boatwright, a young gay activist in “The Normal Heart” who bucks up the main characters in their fight against AIDS. The humanity and intensity of the play appealed to him, he said, just as Beckett and Büchner once did; in graduate school, too, his thesis project was a 15-minute performance piece about a mentally disabled death-row inmate, a psychiatrist and a murder victim’s father — all played by Mr. Parsons.
“If I ever wrote a script myself, it would be strongly emotional material,” he said. “Every time I think about writing, comedy doesn’t interest me in the slightest. I can play comedy, but I don’t think in terms of comic dialogue.”
“The Normal Heart” resonated with him on a few levels: Mr. Parsons is gay and in a 10-year relationship, and working with an ensemble again onstage was like nourishment, he said. As the production was ending last summer, he heard that the Roundabout Theater Company was considering a revival of “Harvey” — initially with John C. Reilly under consideration for Elwood — and last November the play’s director, Scott Ellis, asked him and Ms. Hecht to do a private reading of the work in Los Angeles.
Hat/tip to Wonder Man.