Director Mark Cendrowski on Straddling the ‘Big Bang Theory’ & ‘Young Sheldon’ Worlds
Mark Cendrowski is known for his work on The Big Bang Theory — he was nominated for two Emmys for directing, including the series finale, during its run — and he’s also directed four episodes of its spinoff, Young Sheldon.
He’s returning for a fifth in Season 3, and he enjoys being “able to straddle both worlds,” he told TV Insider. “A large group of the writers have come over now also, but knowing foreground of what we did with Sheldon and where he ends up, it really informs you on how to write for his character, how to deal with him.”
The director also enjoyed the crossovers between the shows that we saw in recent years. “Being able to have Sheldon’s brother appear again on Big Bang after you see him on Young Sheldon, it was really fun,” he said. “The actors would go back and forth. Montana Jordan, who plays Georgie, came to a taping of Big Bang, to see Jerry O’Connell and what he was going to be like when he got older. Iain [Armitage] obviously knowing what Sheldon is like.”
“To have that back and forth was really fun to play with,” he continued. “They were able to treat it with the writing and to make sure, ‘hmm, how can we fit this in?’ As directors, we kept a close eye on it with the way the characters acted.”
Cendrowski was also behind the camera for the pilot of the new ABC comedy United We Fall, which was a bit of a different experience for him. He didn’t direct the pilot of The Big Bang Theory — Jim Burrows did — although he did the first three episodes after that and became the CBS comedy’s regular director.
“We had a great time doing [United We Fall],” he said. “Will Sasso’s wonderful. Jane Curtin, who I’ve been a fan of my entire career, is just wonderful to work with. The big difference is that’s a family show and Big Bang was more of an ensemble show. You have to treat things a little differently the way you approach it. The experiences can all be the same.”
But no matter what the differences, he still finds it “a blast” to film in front of a live audience. “That’s what I love about the multi-cam world because you have this brand new episode that no one’s ever seen before, no one has seen these characters before, you’re doing it for the first time, and when you see that audience respond and you know you’ve done a good job, it’s like, ‘yes, they understand it, they get the motivation, they’re following the story, they like these people.'”
And he expects people to like the characters of United We Fall. “This is a family you want to root for and it’s funny, too. They’re real people, and that’s something I tried to bring that we always did at Big Bang. These are real people, and you don’t have to do things too big and broad. Play the reality of it and people will relate to it and find it funny.”
Young Sheldon, Season 3 Premiere, Thursday, September 26, 8/7c, CBS