The Magical Life of Child Actor Iain Armitage

Sure, he's rubbed elbows with Nicole Kidman and Lin-Manuel Miranda. But he's also just a regular kid.

Iain Armitage as Young Sheldon. Photo by Robert Voets/CBS

Name: Iain Armitage

Age: 9

Family drama: Iain’s mom, Lee Armitage, is a former stage producer who grew up in Northern Virginia (her father, Richard Armitage, served as deputy secretary of state during George W. Bush’s presidency). Iain’s dad, stage actor Euan Morton, is currently performing the role of King George in Hamilton on Broadway. Signature Theatre artistic director Eric Schaeffer is Iain’s godfather.

Hometowns: Until he started acting, Iain and his parents split their time between Arlington’s Ashton Heights neighborhood and Manhattan. Halfway through 2017, Iain and his mom decamped to a rental house in L.A. near Warner Bros.’ studios, but they have no intention of selling their Arlington home.

Résumé: Iain started recording his own YouTube theater reviews outside Signature Theatre in 2014. After his cheerful paeans went viral, infotainment star Perez Hilton invited him to work the red carpet as an on-camera correspondent at the Tony Awards, chatting up the likes of Glenn Close, Sting and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Iain never considered acting until a Hollywood agent who had seen his online reviews talked his mom into having him audition. Iain’s biggest roles to date include portraying Shailene Woodley’s on-screen son in the Emmy-sweeping HBO miniseries Big Little Lies (which also stars Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman), Jane Fonda’s grandson in the Netflix film Our Souls at Night and the title role of Young Sheldon, the CBS prequel spun off from the hit series The Big Bang Theory. He’s never taken an acting class.

Hobbies: Magic tricks, reading, tap dancing, long walks, tae kwon do and going to the theater. He collects playbills and estimates that he’s seen 300 plays so far. When he was younger, he took gymnastics classes at the Barcroft Sports & Fitness Center and dance classes at Adagio Ballet.

First TV Job: My role in Big Little Lies. It had an amazing cast and a lot of very kind people, including five other principal kids. Three boys and three girls. It was perfect! We played a lot.

On Stardom: I’m living in a dream, basically. I’m having a good time and it’s very fun. Sometimes I have to ask myself, Is this happening? I have to keep pinching myself. But I don’t really want to be seen as a celebrity. I’m not in it for the fame. It’s just a matter of wanting to make people happy and make people smile.

On Home-Schooling: It’s amazing, like a portable school you can fold up and say, You’re coming with me. When we’re out here [in L.A.], there’s a studio teacher who helps me with my work, but my mom usually teaches me. My favorite subjects are history and science. And I love Shakespeare. He’s awesome. I don’t want to say he’s history, because he still lives in our memories.

Off Screen: I’m not allowed to do social media. I wouldn’t want to anyway when you could do something more fun. Me and my cousin like to hunt frogs and then let them go. I have an ant farm and I’m going to get a tadpole that we are going to watch turn into a frog. And reading. I love reading.

When in Arlington… [I like] going to the theater, especially Signature Theatre in Shirlington, and doing tae kwon do at the Jhoon Rhee studio. I love the Silver Diner—that place is so good. And hanging out in my house with my toys, and playing with my friends.

Looking Ahead: I love watching theater and being in some shows, but when I grow up, I want to be a magician. I love doing magic—mind reading, cards, vanishing canes, things that turn into scarves, all kinds of stuff.

TV or Not TV? [The Big Bang Theory] is a little inappropriate for me. It’s aimed at a different audience, so I haven’t really been watching it. I watched a couple of short clips [for my role in Young Sheldon] but I don’t watch that much TV. It’s just not my thing.

Doing the Work: I don’t have much trouble memorizing my lines because we shoot such short sections at a time. I like learning them because [Young] Sheldon uses so many words that I don’t know yet, and I also get to learn some scientific formulas.

Early to Bed: I usually go to bed at 7 p.m. You need sleep. We gotta sleep.

Emily Schwartz Greco first met Iain Armitage three years ago when he was tap-dancing on the sidewalk outside a Shirlington restaurant.

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