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Rules The Young Sheldon Cast Had To Follow On Set

It may be named after one character in particular, but, at its heart, "Young Sheldon" is a show about family. Although it's centered around the child genius Sheldon Cooper, the bulk of this "The Big Bang Theory" spin-off delves into how the main character's intellect and behavior causes friction in what is otherwise a very normal household in East Texas. It focuses on how his siblings react to his higher intelligence and the problems Sheldon causes for his parents just by being so smart.

However, just because Sheldon is smarter than pretty much anyone else we see in "Young Sheldon," he still has to follow the law set down by his mother and father. Just like Missy and George, Sheldon is subjected to strict rules that he is supposed to always follow. The same was also true for the people who portrayed these characters over the course of seven memorable seasons. The actors had to abide by a set of behind-the-scenes regulations that were laid out by the producers and writers, some of which were pretty restraining.

From changing (and maintaining) their physical appearances to following the labor laws dictated by the state in which they filmed, here are all the rules that the "Young Sheldon" cast had to abide by on set.

Iain Armitage had to dye his hair

It's important that actors match the appearance of the character they're playing in television shows and movies, and it's especially important in cases where a character is already well known to viewers, whether it's from a book or a previous screen project. In the case of "Young Sheldon,” the protagonist is someone fans were already very familiar with. Yes, this is a younger version of Sheldon Cooper, but, given everything the audience knew about him and his personality, it would have been very odd if he looked dramatically different — he's just not the kind of person who would change his look all that much.

It was vital that the creators of the show made Iain Armitage look as similar to Jim Parsons' version of Sheldon as they possibly could. This meant that the young actor had to dye his usually blonde hair dark brown for "Young Sheldon." Armitage told the New York Post that he is "usually a total blondie" and producers made him change his hair color. His original hair can be seen in the show "Big Little Lies." It's noticeably lighter than Sheldon's hair in "The Big Bang Theory," and viewers would have certainly picked up on this had the producers not stepped in and made Armitage go darker.

The child stars had to do a lot of school work

Given the nature of "Young Sheldon," a lot of child actors were involved in bringing the prequel spin-off to life, and there are a lot of rules in place to protect child actors when they are filming television series and movies. In locations such as California and New York, where the majority of TV shows and films are made, children (meaning anyone under the age of 18) are restricted in terms of the hours they can work. Like "The Big Bang Theory," "Young Sheldon" was shot in California, where time spent in wardrobe and makeup is considered part of a child's working hours.

A certain number of hours must be set aside for education, with three hours a day being the minimum in California. Iain Armitage has explained that this sometimes involved squeezing a lesson into a 20-minute break. It can be a challenge, but, luckily for Armitage, he loves to learn. In fact, by the time the show came to a close, he was actually more advanced than your average 15-year-old. "I'm proud to say I'm a straight-A student and I'm a bit ahead of where I would be normally," he told UPI. "I could pretty much graduate this upcoming year if I wanted to, but I think I'll probably stay in and keep learning things that I'm interested in."

California's strict rules on education for child actors helped Armitage get ahead of his peers, but he credits his teacher, Maura Gannett, for making learning fun and keeping his best interests at heart. "Miss Maura does two things," the actor told the New York Post back in 2017. "She teaches me, but she also looks out for me to make sure I'm in safe conditions. So nothing unfair or inappropriate is happening."

The actors had to keep the same hairstyles throughout

While some stars refuse to change the way they look for a movie or television show, in a lot of cases, actors are required to alter their appearance in order to better fit the character they're portraying. This includes things like growing (or getting rid of) facial hair, wearing certain cosmetics or accessories, or having a particular hairstyle. In extreme cases, an actor may be contractually obliged to keep a certain element of their appearance for a set period of time to avoid things like Henry Cavill's Superman mustache controversy and prevent continuity errors. That was the case with actor Raegan Revord in "Young Sheldon."

Playing Sheldon's twin sister Missy Cooper meant that Revord had to have long brown hair for the show and she was unable to get a haircut. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Revord explained that she had been wanting a haircut so she could have shorter hair for four years, but she had been blocked by the show's producers, who wanted her to keep the long hair that her character was associated with. That eventually changed after she was involved in a traumatic car crash and those in charge relented after realizing how much it would mean to the young actor. "And now I have short hair and I'm so happy," she said in the interview. "I love it so much. I got Van Leeuwen and I got a haircut. What more can you ask for?"

The cast and crew had to follow strict COVID-19 testing rules

It goes without saying that COVID-19 had a huge impact on Hollywood, and that included TV shows, too. Sets are usually very busy places, with a lot of cast and crew working together in small spaces. The pandemic meant that this wasn't possible, as it risked spreading the virus further. Many projects had to be shut down and delayed, and when production did begin again, there were strict rules put in place that everyone involved had to follow. This usually involved regular testing for COVID-19 as well as some other rules around wearing masks.

In terms of "Young Sheldon," Warner Bros. introduced stringent processes that the actors had to follow at all times. This impacted Season 4 most prominently, which started filming in September 2020, during the height of the pandemic. The rigorous rules meant that the cast and crew had to take tests regularly. Any positive results would lead to the day's filming being suspended and production being paused. On at least two occasions — in October 2020 and December 2020 — filming of "Young Sheldon" ground to a halt because of positive COVID-19 tests.

Those playing known characters had to prepare extra carefully for their roles

With any prequel, it's important that those taking part fully understand the franchise and take extra time to prepare for roles. After all, any errors or inconsistencies compared to the original series will be instantly picked up on by fans and will often lead to angry comments from the most dedicated among them. When it comes to shows like the still-popular "The Big Bang Theory," it is even more vital that everything syncs up and makes sense.

For the cast of "Young Sheldon," this meant trying to learn as much as possible about the characters that they would be playing. The best source of that information was obviously the original actors, with Iain Armitage spending a lot of time with Jim Parsons to learn about Sheldon Cooper. In particular, the young actor worked with Parsons to perfect the voice of the character. Speaking to Build, he said: "We worked on Sheldon's mannerisms and once I have my hair and makeup and costumes on [...] I feel like Sheldon."

Zoe Perry, who plays Sheldon's mother Mary Cooper, also studied the actor who originally played her character, though she had a head start in terms of knowing her mannerisms: The older version of Mary was played by her real-life mother Laurie Metcalf. "I definitely went back and rewatched her scenes because I wanted to make sure that I was in at least the ballpark," said Perry to The Hollywood Reporter.

Iain Armitage was made to learn long monologues

Because Sheldon Cooper is a genius, he often says things that you wouldn't expect to hear in normal conversation. While that wasn't much of a problem for an adult actor like Jim Parsons, who had plenty of acting experience, it was a little bit more difficult for the young Iain Armitage. After all, as those who watched "The Big Bang Theory" know, Sheldon began demonstrating a high intellect and a love of science from a very early age. This meant that the younger version of the character often had to say complicated and technical things.

You couldn't blame the creators for watering down Sheldon's genius in order to make the dialogue more palatable for the spin-off's young star, but they didn't — in fact, from his very first audition for "Young Sheldon," Iain Armitage was forced to learn long monologues and scientific jargon. Speaking to Mashable, Armitage revealed the process of him landing the part, saying: "I had a three-page long monologue that I had to memorize!" He also acknowledged that it was a complex task to learn his lines for the show. "It is pretty hard," he added in the interview. "Usually, I just read it a couple of times and then go for it."

The child stars weren't allowed to watch The Big Bang Theory

Unlike its sister show, "Young Sheldon" is a family comedy that can be watched by people of all ages. That means the jokes are more tame and the storylines don't focus exclusively on adult themes. The fact that "The Big Bang Theory" is aimed more at adults meant that it wasn't exactly suitable material for the young cast of the prequel show, even though it would have been useful to watch for research purposes.

Speaking to CinemaBlend, Raegan Revord detailed how she wasn't allowed to watch "The Big Bang Theory" when she first started shooting "Young Sheldon" as it wasn't age appropriate. "When I [first] did the show, I mean, I was nine years old," she said. "'Big Bang' is not for a nine-year-old, so I've never seen it before, and I actually still haven't seen it. I probably should watch it at some point." The same was true for the show's main star, Iain Armitage.

While he watched a few select clips so he could see how Jim Parsons portrayed Sheldon, Armitage hasn't actually watched "The Big Bang Theory" properly yet. That's largely because he was still too young for the show when he landed the role of Sheldon. "Well, 'Big Bang' isn't really appropriate for me, plus it's not really aimed at my audience level," he told Business Standard in 2018, adding, "though I would really love to see it." Now that "Young Sheldon" is finished and the young stars are getting older, it's probably only a matter of time before they sit down to binge the original show.