‘Young Sheldon’ star Zoe Perry on playing same character as her mom Laurie Metcalf does on ‘The Big Bang Theory’

Zoe Perry has had a lifetime to prepare for her role as the tart-tongued Texan Mary Cooper on “Young Sheldon.” Her mother, Emmy and Tony winner Laurie Metcalf, plays the same part on the contemporary comedy “The Big Bang Theory,” which begat this prequel set in 1989. The family connection extends even further as Perry previously played her mother’s character in flashbacks on “Roseanne,” which was executive produced by Chuck Lorre, the creator of both these hit CBS shows.

Metcalf encouraged her to audition for “Young Sheldon” and she readily admits that she had an advantage, in that she knew her mother’s mannerisms and vocal patterns. After she was cast, Perry made a point of watching all the episodes in which her mother appeared. Her goal was “to carve out an original Mary but one that is grounded in what my mom did.” And she was pleased that the producers gave her the latitude to make the character her own.

SEE 2018 Emmys calendar: Two-week voting starts June 11, nominations on July 12, ceremony on September 17

Perry is the heart and soul of “Young Sheldon,” which is the first single-camera comedy from Lorre and company. Not making it a multi-cam like “Big Bang” meant more freedom for the cast says this classically-trained actress. “It was so bold and clever to go out on this limb, something so different from what they are known for.” To that end, she thinks “it suits our show so well as it allows us to do more intimate scenes, to concentrate on the quieter more reflective moments.”

She readily admits to feeling the pressures of headlining a new show that follows the #1 comedy on the CBS schedule. “We are so grateful that people stuck around to check us out.” And, she is delighted that the ratings are keeping pace with the lead-in, given that “our pacing and tone is different and we are kid-centric.”

Perry knows that she won’t get to act opposite her mother on either show but fondly recalls working with her twice on stage. The first time was at Chicago’s famed Steppenwolf Theater in the rollicking comedy “Pot Mom” when she was a teenager and then more recently as a newly minted Northwestern graduate in the Broadway drama “The Other Place.”

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