It seems only fair that Zoe Perry would play Mary Cooper, Sheldon’s mother, on CBS’ new sitcom Young Sheldon. That’s because her real-life mother, Laure Metcalf, plays the same role on The Big Bang Theory. Perry is also the daughter of Scandal star Jeff Perry.
The 33-year-old Perry has been acting since she was eight years old. She’s had several leading roles on TV since then, starring in the short-lived The Family and earning a recurring role on Scandal.
Perry is not married and it’s not publicly known if she has a boyfriend. You can follow her on Twitter here.
Here’s what you need to know about the actress playing Sheldon’s mom.
1. She Also Played a Younger Version of Her Mom on ‘Roseanne’
This isn’t the first time Perry has been cast to play a younger version of her mom. She made her acting debut in 1992 as “Little Jackie,” while her mom played adult Jackie Harris on Roseanne. The role earned her mom three consecutive Emmys. Zoe appeared in two Roseanne episodes – 1992’s “Halloween IV” and 1995’s “All About Rosey.”
After appearing on Roseanne, Perry didn’t act for a decade. So where was she? Going to school. According to a 2008 New York Post profile, Perry wasn’t allowed to act again until she finished high school.
But even after graduating, she was too nervous to act. Instead, she went to Northeastern, where she finally appeared in a play. If acting didn’t work out, she wanted to go to grad school for social work.
In the Post profile, Metcalf said growing up on the Roseanne set was “inappropriate.” Her father added, “Grossly inappropriate!”
2. She Had to Audition for the Role on ‘Young Sheldon’ Just Like Any Other Actor
The producers behind Young Sheldon are many of the same ones who work on Big Bang. However, they didn’t purposefully say “We’ll hire Zoe Perry because she’s Laurie Metcalf’s daughter.” Perry todl the Toronto Star she had to audition for the part just like any other actor.
“I had to audition like everybody else,” she told the Star. “I didn’t go in there thinking, ‘I’ve got this.’ I always think, ‘Wouldn’t that be nice but probably won’t happen.’ Which is frankly how I went into this one. So it’s pretty marvellous that I have the opportunity.”
In that same interview, Perry said she watched her mother’s performance on Big Bang for research. The character is supposed to be from East Texas, so she had to get the accent right.
She watched her mother to “Make sure my dialect was similar. How she holds and carries herself. And then I gave myself some latitude,” she told the Star.
In the series, Sheldon starts out as a nine-year-old going to high school. He’s played by Iain Armitage.
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“We get introduced to Mary at a very different stage in her life. She’s figuring out as best as she can how to help Sheldon navigate this world in which he feels so alienated,” Perry told the Toronto Star. “Working with Iain was really easy; he’s a wonderful actor, and so present. It’s a really lucky position to play mom to these kids who are so warmhearted and generous. I just get to show up.”
3. She Acted With Her Father Jeff Perry on ABC’s ‘Scandal’
Perry’s father is actor Jeff Perry, who has been acting since the late 1970s. However, today’s audience knows him best as Cyrus Beene on ABC’s hit series Scandal. Perry also appeared on that show, starring in nine 2017 episodes as Samantha Ruland.
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Metcalf and Jeff Perry divorced in 1992. Metcalf them married Matt Roth in 2993 and they had three children before their divorce in 2014. Jeff Perry is now married to Linda Lowy, the casting director on Grey’s Anatomy, and they have a daughter.
“It’s a great joy,” Jeff Perry told People Magazine of working with his daughter. “There was kind of an inception moment for this, in [Producer Shonda Rhimes’] brain, I think. Shonda came to a local theater production of a revival of Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie. Zoe played Anna Christie, Kevin McKidd from Grey’s Anatomy played the sailor. I was Anna’s father. Shonda was really taken with the production. A year and a half later, whatever it is, two years later, as she and the writers are creating this character, Zoe came into her mind.”
Perry also told People that it was great to work with her dad and the rest of the Scandal team.
4. Perry Also Appeared on the Stage in Plays With Her Parents
Perry has also appeared on the stage in productions with her parents.
In 2013, she acted alongside her mother in the Broadway production of The Other Place. As Broadway.com notes, the production also included Daniel Stern (Home Alone) making his Broadway debut. Metcalf plays a neurologist whose life is changed just as she finds a breakthrough treatment for Alzheimer’s disease.
Jeff Perry is also a longtime Broadway actor, having starred in August: Osage County and other productions. In 2015, he appeared in a Los Angeles production of Eugene O’Neill’s Anna Christie with his daughter.
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In a 2015 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Perry said her parents always treated the theater as sacred ground.
“It was the place where fun things happened and where I got to really see them professionally and also personally light up,” she told the Times. “I guess I feel really lucky that I share the same passion.”
5. Metcalf Has Praised Her Daughter’s Acting Skills, Saying She ‘Could Definitely Hold Her Own’
Metcalf is proud of the decisions her daughter has made as an actress. She told People that she was nervous about her daughter following in her footsteps at first.
“It’s been stressful for me because I never knew if she had that thick of a skin,” the Emmy winner said. “But I’ve enjoyed watching her ride so far.”
Metfcalf also praised her daughter’s work on the stage. “She could definitely hold her own. Suddenly I was working with a peer, and that was a great feeling,” she said of Perry.
As for Perry, she told Entertainment Weekly that it was daunting playing the role her mother played on Big Bang.
“When I’m acting, there are moments where I’m thinking, ‘I sound like my mom when I say that,’ or ‘I sound like my dad when I say that,” Perry told EW. “Now working with both of them, it’s like, ‘I sound like them when I say that!’ It’s surreal.”