Craig T. Nelson Of ‘Young Sheldon’ & ‘Coach’ Chats About Time He Was Star Struck & More!

“Half a Wiener Schnitzel and Underwear in a Tree” - News of the tornado reaches Sheldon and Mary in Germany. Also, with the Cooper house in chaos, Missy steps up, on the season 7 premiere of YOUNG SHELDON, Thursday, February 15 (8:00-8:31 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network, and available to stream live and on demand on Paramount+*. Pictured: Craig T. Nelson as Dale Ballard.
Sonja Flemming/CBS

As Young Sheldon comes to an end (May 16), the cast is a bit melancholy. Ending a hit show is something Craig T. Nelson has been through before, with the beloved Coach.

Both characters (Dale, who’s Meemaw’s beau on Sheldon, and Coach Hayden Fox) radiate a sense of decency; these are men you want in your life. Although a spinoff of the Thursday CBS sitcom has been announced — and Young Sheldon was a spinoff of The Big Bang Theory — Nelson did not yet know if his character would be involved.

On a break from shooting the last few episodes, Nelson reflects on these beloved comedies as he answers our “5 Questions.”

Did you enjoy playing Coach Hayden Fox?

COACH, Craig T. Nelson, (season 8, 1995), 1989-1997,

Craig Sjodin/ABC/courtesy Everett Collection

He had a wildness and vitality that I really liked, a passion for life, tolerance, and a lot of compassion. Depending on the year that the show was being shown, there were different aspects to him that would be played into. It was just a lot of fun.

Where do you keep your Emmy Award?

In a corner of the living room.

Tell us about a time when you were starstruck.

TAKE ME HOME AGAIN, (aka THE LIES BOY TELL), from left: Craig T. Nelson, Kirk Douglas, (aired December 18, 1994).

NBC/courtesy Everett Collection

It was 1960, and I was in Spokane. My mom took me to see Spartacus, and I just fell in love with Kirk Douglas and Jean Simmons. It was a wonderful experience, and years and years and years later, I am working with Kirk Douglas, and I just could not believe it. I mean, here was a kid from Spokane, looking at a movie star, and I am actually doing scenes with him. Literally, I think I did the whole part with my mouth open. It was originally called The Lies Boys Tell. And I think they changed it to Take Me Home Again. The son has taken his father back to the places the father remembers. They were not on good terms, the father and son.

What’s your ideal day?

WESTWOOD, CA - MAY 06: Actor Craig T. Nelson attends Paramount Pictures' Premiere Of "Book Club" - Red Carpet at Regency Village Theatre on May 6, 2018 in Westwood, California.

Leon Bennett/Getty Images

One in which the puppy (a golden retriever) behaves, and I can sit down and do my writing. I am presently writing a book, doing it almost two years now. It’s historical fiction, right after the flood, with Noah’s three sons, and it follows one of the sons. The research has been endless and really fun, an awareness of the human condition and where we were as a people and where we were going. Time to do that or play the guitar. That is primarily what I am doing and taking care of the business I have — my youngest son is very involved and has four different projects going, a part of Family Tree, my production company.

What’s a job you had that still influences you?

Probably when I was in the mountains. I worked as a logger. I was a choker setter, the guy who sets the cable around the logs that have felled and they are about 3/4-inch thick cable put on a loader. I got a chance to work in the woods and a chance to know the various trees, and I had an innate affinity for their beauty and the stories they told.


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Favorite TV Families

December 2020

Who was your favorite TV family? We cover the decades, from the Cleavers, Waltons and Brady Bunch, to the Ewings and much more!

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