‘Young Sheldon’ Star Lance Barber Says ‘Everyone Had a Crush’ on Jennifer Garner in Theater School (Exclusive)

From an early age, Lance Barber had the acting bug after taking in some fun shows at the local community theater. Now, Barber stars onYoung Sheldon as Sheldon Cooper’s father — but he still fondly recalls his early days learning acting at that same local theater, alongside another now-famous entertainer.

Barber recently sat down with ET’s Kevin Frazier and recalled how he joined an Equity program at The Barn Theatre School in Battle Creek, Michigan, where he took classes and performed in shows alongside a young Jennifer Garner.

“She was a young theater student, and she came out to do summer-stock theater to get that experience as well, and we did some shows together,” Barber reflected. “My recollection of Jen is the same as everybody’s — she was delightful and wonderful, and everybody had a crush on her at the time.”

“She was a genuinely sweet and talented person,” Barber said, adding that, after Garner’s career took off, everyone who grew to know her at the theater school was excited for her. “Everyone was proud, and no one was surprised.”

Years later, and Barber has become one of TV’s iconic sitcom dads, playing George Cooper to a pint-sized Sheldon (played by Iain Armitage) on the hit CBS sit-com.

When asked about the status, Barber said, “I don’t know about iconic. I think I need some time before I reach that status!”

“But it’s great company to be in,” he added. “I always grew up watching dads of all sorts and I always thought that it felt like a regular guy role I could do.”

Young Sheldon is a prequel series to the megahit sitcom The Big Bang Theory — a show in which Barber also appeared. The actor played Leonard Hofstadter’s (Johnny Galecki) high school bully. So, when he got cast to play Sheldon’s dad, some fans had a bit of a hard time wrapping their heads around it.

“It was fun for me because when that happened and I got that job, it was apparent to me that that was going to be noticed, especially from how deep the fans are of those shows,” he said. “So it wasn’t going to go unmissed by the fandom.”

In response, some in the fandom crafted some fairly wild theories to explain it, and Barber laughing explained, “I’ve heard some and there’s been some weird stuff like is this is this a multidimensional universe.”

“It’s nonsense,” he added. “It’s an actor playing a different part!”  

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