Thanks to the intense popularity of nerds in entertainment culture, Emmy-winning actor Jim Parsons emerged as the poster boy of geek chic with his winning portrayal of Sheldon Cooper on "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS, 2007- ). Prior to this career-defining role, Parsons made his way up from the stage to land small roles in the features "Nowhere to Go But Up" (2003) and "Garden State" (2004). Following more minor parts in "The Great New Wonderful" (2005), "10 Items or Less" (2006) and "School for Scoundrels" (2005), Parsons sparkled in his performance as the neurotic and socially maladjusted physicist on "The Big Bang Theory," turning the actor into the hit sitcom's breakout star, as well as a frontrunner for a number of comedy awards. While his character was stand-offish, calculating and arrogant - as one would have expected from a brainiac with two PhDs and a masters degree - Parsons imbued his character with a healthy dose of charm and leading man likeability. No one in Hollywood quite understood how he did it, but Parsons helped make genius the new cool.